Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

The Trout

In Uncategorized on March 6, 2011 at 1:07 pm

On August 30th 1969, five young musicians, all of whom were about to become established as international artists of the highest rank, gather in London to perform Schubert’s “Trout Quintet” in the new Queen Elizabeth Hall. Daniel Barenboim, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Jacqueline du Pré and Zubin Mehta named themselves The Jewish music mafia. It was clear that the concert would become legendary and make musical history. 

The artists had all been intimate friends for many years and they are well aware of the dangers of putting five soloists together but there is the very hope that because of their talent, their friendship and the similarity of their approach they will be able to produce the give-and-take so essential to chamber music and so rewarding and that is why they have commited themselves to this concert.

Pinchas Zuckerman was born in Tel Aviv and started playing violin at the age of 8. In 1962 he moved to the US to study at the Juilliard School, under the tutelage of Stern and Ivan Galamian. Zukerman performs over 150 concerts around the world each year, and is considered one of the greatest violinists of the 20th and 21st centuries. Zukerman is on the faculty at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music and is the head and founder of the Zukerman Performance Program at the school. Amongst his former students have been Koh Gabriel Kameda, Julian Rachlin, Guy Braunstein and others.

Daniel Barenboim is born in Buenos Aires and became an Israeli Citizen. He started piano lessons at the age of five with his mother and made his debut as a pianist in Vienna and Rome in 1952, in Paris in 1955, in London in 1956 and in New York in 1957 with Leopold Stokowski conducting the Symphony of the Air. From then on, he made annual concert tours of the United States and Europe. He toured Australia in 1958 and soon became known as one of the most versatile pianists of his generation. In 1992 he became General Music Director of the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin. In the autumn of 2000, the Staatskapelle Berlin appointed him Chief Conductor for Life. He also appears regularly with the Berlin Philharmonic and Vienna Philharmonic orchestras

Jacqueline du Pré is born in Oxford, England and is recognized as one of the best-loved cellists of our time. At 12 she performed a first concert for the BBC in London. In 1965, at age 20, du Pré recorded the Elgar Concerto for EMI with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir John Barbirolli, which brought her international recognition. She, then, undertook short-term studies with Mstislav Rostropovich in Russia in 1966. So impressed was Rostropovich with his young pupil that at the end of her study with him, he declared her “the only cellist of the younger generation that could equal and overtake his own achievement.”

Jacqueline du Pré met pianist Daniel Barenboim on New Year’s Eve 1966. Shortly after the Six-Day War ended, she cancelled all her existing engagements (to the enormous annoyance of promoters), and they flew to Jerusalem. She converted to Judaism overnight, and they were married on 15 June 1967 at the Western Wall. Their union was one of the most fruitful relationships in the entire history of music – which some compare to that which bound Clara and Robert Schumann. This can be clearly seen in the many concerts they have given, Barenboim at the piano or conducting. However, despite her incredible talent, she had nervous breakdown and had suicidal behavior. In 1971, at only 26, du Pré’s playing began an irreversible decline as she started to lose sensitivity and mobility in her fingers and other parts of her body. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in October 1973. Her last public concerts were in New York in February 1973: four performances of the Brahms Double Concerto with Pinchas Zukerman, and Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic were scheduled. Du Pré recalled that she had problems judging the weight of the bow, and just opening the cello case had become difficult. As she had lost sensation in her fingers, she had to coordinate her fingering visually. She performed three of the concerts and cancelled the last. Isaac Stern stepped in for her, performing Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. She died in 1987 at the age of 42. Barenboim was at his side when he died. She leaves her Stradivarius Yo-Yo Ma

Like Zuckerman, Itzhak Perlman was born in israel and went to the Julliard School in New York where they even had the same teacher. Both of them won the Leventritt Award, America’s top musicla prize and both are recoginsed as violinsts of international stature. He started violin at 3 but at four and a half, he had polio, which condemns him to walk with crutches, and forcing him to play the violin just sitting.  In 1987, he joined the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra for their concerts in Warsaw and Budapest, as well as other Eastern bloc countries. He toured with the IPO in the spring of 1990 for their first-ever performance in the Soviet Union, with concerts in Moscow and Leningrad, and toured with the IPO again in 1994, performing in China and India. As well as playing and recording the classical music for which he is best known, Perlman has also played jazz, including an album made with jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, and klezmer. Perlman has been a soloist for a number of movie scores, notably the score of the 1993 film Schindler’s List by John Williams, which subsequently won an Academy Award for best score. He is widely considered to be one of the preeminent violin virtuosi of the 20th century.

Zubin Mehta is probably the most famous and talented conductor in the history of music. He was born into a Parsi family in Mumbai and like Pinchas Zuckerman his father was a violinist and founding conductor of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra. However, he chooses to study medicine, but eventually became a music student in Vienna at the age of 18, under Hans Swarowsky. At 21 he won the Liverpool’s Conductor Competition. At 23 he was appointed musical director of the Montreal Symphony and in 1962, at 26 he also became musical director of the Los Angele Philarmonic. In 1978 Mehta became the Music Director and Principal Conductor of the New York Philharmonic and remained there until his resignation in 1991, becoming the longest holder of the post. It was under his leadership that was played the third concerto for piano and orchestra (Op. 30) by Sergei Rachmaninov by Vladimir Horowitz. In 1999, Zubin Mehta was presented the “Lifetime Achievement Peace and Tolerance Award” of the United Nations. In 2009, Mehta established Mifneh (Hebrew for “Change”), a music education program for Israeli Arabs, in cooperation with Bank Leumi and the Arab-Israel Bank. Three schools, in Shfaram, the Jezreel Valley and Nazareth, are taking part in the pilot project.

Metha and Barenboim in 1966

Perlman , Rubinstein , Mehta , Du pre

I believe that the justification of art is the internal combustion it ignites in the hearts of men and not its shallow, externalized, public manifestations. The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenalin but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.

Glenn Gould


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