Isaac Stern
Isaac Stern was a Ukrainian-born violinist
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

. He was renowned for his recordings and for discovering new musical talent.


Isaac Stern was born into a Jewish family in Kremenets
Kremenets is a city in the Ternopil Oblast of western Ukraine. It is the administrative center of the Kremenets Raion , and rests 18 km north-east of the great Pochayiv Monastery...

, Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

. He was fourteen months old when his family moved to San Francisco. He received his first music lessons from his mother before enrolling at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music
San Francisco Conservatory of Music
San Francisco Conservatory of Music, formerly the California Conservatory of Music, founded in 1917, is a music school, with an enrollment of about 400 students. It was launched by Ada Clement and Lillian Hodgehead in the remodeled home of Lillian's parents on Sacramento Street. It was called the...

 in 1928 where he studied until 1931 before going on to study privately with Louis Persinger
Louis Persinger
Louis Persinger was an American violinist and pianist.Louis Persinger trained at the Leipzig Conservatory, before finishing with Eugène Ysaÿe in Brussels. He became leader of the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra and the Royal Opera Orchestra in Brussels. In 1915 he was appointed leader and assistant...

. He returned to the San Francisco Conservatory to study with Naoum Blinder
Naoum Blinder
Naoum Blinder was a Russian-American virtuoso violinist and teacher, born in Yevpatoria .-Early life and education:...

 for five years. He said he owed the most to Blinder. At his public début on February 18, 1936, aged 15, he played Saint-Saëns'
Camille Saint-Saëns
Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was a French Late-Romantic composer, organist, conductor, and pianist. He is known especially for The Carnival of the Animals, Danse macabre, Samson and Delilah, Piano Concerto No. 2, Cello Concerto No. 1, Havanaise, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, and his Symphony...

 Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor
Violin Concerto No. 3 (Saint-Saëns)
The Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor, Op. 61, by Camille Saint-Saëns is a piece for violin and orchestra written in 1880. Saint-Saëns dedicated the concerto to fellow composer-virtuoso Pablo de Sarasate, who played the solo part at the premiere...

 with the San Francisco Symphony
San Francisco Symphony
The San Francisco Symphony is an orchestra based in San Francisco, California. Since 1980, the orchestra has performed at the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall. The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus are part of the organization...

 under the direction
Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures. The primary duties of the conductor are to unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, and to listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble...

 of Pierre Monteux
Pierre Monteux
Pierre Monteux was an orchestra conductor. Born in Paris, France, Monteux later became an American citizen.-Life and career:Monteux was born in Paris in 1875. His family was descended from Sephardi Jews who came to France in the wake of the Spanish Inquisition. He studied violin from an early age,...

. Reflecting on his background Stern once memorably quipped that cultural exchanges between the US and Soviet Russia were simple affairs: "They send us their Jews from Odessa
Odessa or Odesa is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast located in southern Ukraine. The city is a major seaport located on the northwest shore of the Black Sea and the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,029,000 .The predecessor of Odessa, a small Tatar settlement,...

, and we send them our Jews from Odessa."

Within musical circles, Stern became renowned both for his recordings and for championing certain younger players. Among his discoveries were cellists Yo-Yo Ma
Yo-Yo Ma
Yo-Yo Ma is an American cellist, virtuoso, and orchestral composer. He has received multiple Grammy Awards, the National Medal of Arts in 2001 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011...

 and Jian Wang
Jian Wang (cellist)
Jian Wang began to study the cello with his father when he was four. While a student at the Shanghai Conservatoire, he was featured in the celebrated documentary film From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China...

, and violinists Itzhak Perlman
Itzhak Perlman
Itzhak Perlman is an Israeli-born violinist, conductor, and instructor of master classes. He is regarded as one of the pre-eminent violinists of the 20th and early-21st centuries.-Early life:...

 and Pinchas Zukerman
Pinchas Zukerman
Pinchas Zukerman is a world-renowned violinist, violist, and conductor. He is considered one of the greatest violinists of the 20th and 21st centuries, and his ongoing 45-year career has seen him perform with the world's best-known orchestras and record over 100 works...

. He also played a major role in saving New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

's Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park....

 from demolition in 1960, which later had its main auditorium
An auditorium is a room built to enable an audience to hear and watch performances at venues such as theatres. For movie theaters, the number of auditoriums is expressed as the number of screens.- Etymology :...

 named in his honor.

Among his many recordings, Stern recorded concerto
A concerto is a musical work usually composed in three parts or movements, in which one solo instrument is accompanied by an orchestra.The etymology is uncertain, but the word seems to have originated from the conjunction of the two Latin words...

s by Brahms
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

, Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

, Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

, Mendelssohn
Felix Mendelssohn
Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Barthóldy , use the form 'Mendelssohn' and not 'Mendelssohn Bartholdy'. The Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians gives ' Felix Mendelssohn' as the entry, with 'Mendelssohn' used in the body text...

, Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Russian: Пётр Ильи́ч Чайко́вский ; often "Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky" in English. His names are also transliterated "Piotr" or "Petr"; "Ilitsch", "Il'ich" or "Illyich"; and "Tschaikowski", "Tschaikowsky", "Chajkovskij"...

, and Vivaldi
Antonio Vivaldi
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi , nicknamed because of his red hair, was an Italian Baroque composer, priest, and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice. Vivaldi is recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread over Europe...

 and modern works by Barber
Samuel Barber
Samuel Osborne Barber II was an American composer of orchestral, opera, choral, and piano music. His Adagio for Strings is his most popular composition and widely considered a masterpiece of modern classical music...

, Bartók
Béla Bartók
Béla Viktor János Bartók was a Hungarian composer and pianist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century and is regarded, along with Liszt, as Hungary's greatest composer...

, Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

, Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein
Leonard Bernstein August 25, 1918 – October 14, 1990) was an American conductor, composer, author, music lecturer and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the United States of America to receive worldwide acclaim...

, Rochberg
George Rochberg
George Rochberg was an American composer of contemporary classical music.-Life:Rochberg was born in Paterson, New Jersey. He attended the Mannes College of Music, where his teachers included George Szell and Hans Weisse, and the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Rosario Scalero and...

, and Dutilleux
Henri Dutilleux
Henri Dutilleux is one of the most important French composers of the second half of the 20th century, producing work in the tradition of Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, and Albert Roussel, but in a style distinctly his own...

. The Dutilleux concerto, entitled L'arbre des songes ['The Tree of Dreams'] was a 1985 commission by Stern himself. He also dubbed
Dubbing (music)
In sound recording, dubbing is the transfer or copying of previously recorded audio material from one medium to another of the same or a different type. It may be done with a machine designed for this purpose, or by connecting two different machines: one to play back and one to record the signal...

 actors' violin-playing in several films, one of which was Fiddler on the Roof
Fiddler on the Roof
Fiddler on the Roof is a musical with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and book by Joseph Stein, set in Tsarist Russia in 1905. It is based on Tevye and his Daughters by Sholem Aleichem...


Stern served as musical advisor for the 1946 film, Humoresque
Humoresque (film)
Humoresque is a 1946 Warner Bros. feature film starring Joan Crawford and John Garfield in an older woman/younger man tale about a violinist and his patroness. The screenplay by Clifford Odets and Zachary Gold was based upon a novel by Fannie Hurst...

, about a rising violin star and his patron, played respectively by John Garfield
John Garfield
John Garfield was an American actor adept at playing brooding, rebellious, working-class character roles. He grew up in poverty in Depression-era New York City and in the early 1930s became an important member of the Group Theater. In 1937 he moved to Hollywood, eventually becoming one of Warner...

 and Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford , born Lucille Fay LeSueur, was an American actress in film, television and theatre....

. In 1999, he actually appeared in the film Music of the Heart
Music of the Heart
Music of the Heart is a 1999 dramatic film. This film was produced by Craven-Maddalena Films and Miramax Films, and distributed by Buena Vista Distribution.The film stars Meryl Streep, Aidan Quinn, Gloria Estefan, and Angela Bassett...

, along with Itzhak Perlman
Itzhak Perlman
Itzhak Perlman is an Israeli-born violinist, conductor, and instructor of master classes. He is regarded as one of the pre-eminent violinists of the 20th and early-21st centuries.-Early life:...

 and several other famed violinists, with a youth orchestra led by Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep
Mary Louise "Meryl" Streep is an American actress who has worked in theatre, television and film.Streep made her professional stage debut in 1971's The Playboy of Seville, before her screen debut in the television movie The Deadliest Season in 1977. In that same year, she made her film debut with...

; the film was a true story of a gifted violin teacher in Harlem
Harlem is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, which since the 1920s has been a major African-American residential, cultural and business center. Originally a Dutch village, formally organized in 1658, it is named after the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands...

 who eventually took her musicians to play a concert in Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park....


In his autobiography
An autobiography is a book about the life of a person, written by that person.-Origin of the term:...

 written with Chaim Potok
Chaim Potok
Chaim Potok was an American Jewish author and rabbi. Potok is most famous for his first book The Chosen, a 1967 novel which was listed on The New York Times’ best seller list for 39 weeks and sold more than 3,400,000 copies.-Biography :Herman Harold Potok was born in The Bronx, New York City, to...

, My First 79 Years, he cites Nathan Milstein
Nathan Milstein
Nathan Mironovich Milstein was a Russian-born American virtuoso violinist.Widely considered one of the finest violinists of the 20th century, Milstein was known for his interpretations of Bach's solo violin works and for works from the Romantic period...

 and Arthur Grumiaux
Arthur Grumiaux
Arthur Grumiaux was a Belgian violinist who was also proficient in piano.-Youth:Grumiaux was born in Villers-Perwin, Belgium to a working-class family, and it was his grandfather who urged him to begin music studies at the age of only 4...

 as major influences on his style of playing.

He won Grammys for his work with Eugene Istomin
Eugene Istomin
Eugene George Istomin was an American pianist.Istomin was born in New York City of Russian parents. He was famous for his work in a piano trio, in which he collaborated with Isaac Stern and Leonard Rose. Known as the Istomin-Stern-Rose Trio, the group made many recordings, particularly of music by...

 and Leonard Rose
Leonard Rose
Leonard Rose was an American cellist and pedagogue.Rose was born in Washington, D.C., his parents were immigrants from Kiev, Ukraine...

 in their famous chamber music trio.

In 1979, seven years after Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 made the first official visit
1972 Nixon visit to China
U.S. President Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to the People's Republic of China was an important step in formally normalizing relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China. It marked the first time a U.S. president had visited the PRC, who at that time considered the U.S. one...

 by a US President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 to the country, the People's Republic of China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 offered Stern and pianist David Golub
David Golub
David Golub, pianist and conductor, was born March 22, 1950 in Chicago, Illinois, USA and died of lung cancer on October 16, 2000 in Milan, Italy.- Biography :Golub moved with his family to Dallas, Texas when he was five years old...

 an unprecedented invitation to tour the country. While there, he collaborated with the China Central Symphony Society (now China National Symphony) under the direction of conductor Li Delun
Li Delun
Li Delun was a Chinese conductor who devoted his life to the promotion of classical music in China. In 1946, with support from Zhou Enlai Li Delun took an assortment of donated musical instruments to the city of Yan-An and became the founder, instructor, and conductor of China's first...

. Their visit was filmed and resulted in the Oscar-winning documentary
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

, From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China
From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China
From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China is a 1980 documentary film about Western culture breaking into China produced and directed by Murray Lerner. It portrays the famous violinist and music teacher Isaac Stern as the first American musician to collaborate with the China Central Symphony Society...


In 1987, Stern received the Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

 for Lifetime Achievement
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded by the Recording Academy to "performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording."...


He was also a good friend of Jack Benny
Jack Benny
Jack Benny was an American comedian, vaudevillian, and actor for radio, television, and film...

; the latter described him as the closest friend he had in the musical world.

His November 1948 marriage to ballerina
A ballerina is a title used to describe a principal female professional ballet dancer in a large company; the male equivalent to this title is danseur or ballerino...

 Nora Kaye
Nora Kaye
Nora Kaye was an American ballerina called the Duse of Dance after acclaimed actress Eleonora Duse. She also worked in films as a choreographer and producer....

 ended in divorce in 1949. On August 17, 1951, Stern married Vera Lindenblit. They had three children together. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1994 after 43 years of marriage. On January 23, 1997, Stern married his third wife, Linda Reynolds, who survived him.

Isaac Stern died in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 on September 22, 2001 of congestive heart failure
Congestive heart failure
Heart failure often called congestive heart failure is generally defined as the inability of the heart to supply sufficient blood flow to meet the needs of the body. Heart failure can cause a number of symptoms including shortness of breath, leg swelling, and exercise intolerance. The condition...

 at 81.

In 2001, his estate decided to sell his entire collection of instruments, bows and musical ephemera through Tarisio Auctions
Tarisio Auctions
- Tarisio Auctions :This is the main page for Tarisio Auctions, the online string instrument auction house. For the Italian violin collector, see Luigi Tarisio....

. The May 2003 auction set a number of world records and was at the time the second highest grossing violin auction of all time, with total sales of over $3.3M.


Stern's favorite instrument was the Ysaÿe Guarnerius, one of the violins produced by the Cremonese luthier
A luthier is someone who makes or repairs lutes and other string instruments. In the United States, the term is used interchangeably with a term for the specialty of each maker, such as violinmaker, guitar maker, lute maker, etc...

 Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù.

Amongst other instruments, Stern played the 'Kruse-Vormbaum' Stradivarius
The name Stradivarius is associated with violins built by members of the Stradivari family, particularly Antonio Stradivari. According to their reputation, the quality of their sound has defied attempts to explain or reproduce, though this belief is controversial...

 (1728), the 'ex-Stern' Bergonzi (1733), the 'Stern-Alard' Guarneri del Gesù (1737), a Michele Angelo Bergonzi (1739–1757), the 'Arma Senkrah' Guadagnini (1750), a Giovanni Guadagnini (1754), a J. B. Vuillaume copy of the "Panette" Guarneri del Gesu of 1737 (c.1850), and the 'ex-Nicolas I' J.B. Vuillaume (1840). He also owned two contemporary instruments by Samuel Zygmuntowicz
Samuel Zygmuntowicz
Samuel Zygmuntowicz is a contemporary luthier. He began his instrument making training when he was thirteen years old and studied making and restoration under Peter Prier, Carl Becker and Rene Morel....



  • Sonning Award (1982; Denmark
    Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

  • Wolf Prize
  • Kennedy Center Honors
    Kennedy Center Honors
    The Kennedy Center Honors is an annual honor given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture. The Honors have been presented annually since 1978 in Washington, D.C., during gala weekend-long events which culminate in a performance for—and...

  • Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with orchestra)
    Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with orchestra)
    The Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance was awarded from 1959 to 2011. From 1967 to 1971 and in 1987 the award was combined with the award for Best Instrumental Soloist Performance and awarded as the Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance - Instrumental Soloist or...

     (1962, 1963, 1965, 1982)
  • Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance
    Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance
    The Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance has been awarded since 1959. The award has had several minor name changes:*From 1959 to 1960 the award was known as Best Classical Performance - Chamber Music ...

     (1971, 1992)
  • National Medal of Arts
    National Medal of Arts
    The National Medal of Arts is an award and title created by the United States Congress in 1984, for the purpose of honoring artists and patrons of the arts. It is the highest honor conferred to an individual artist on behalf of the people. Honorees are selected by the National Endowment for the...

  • Presidential Medal of Freedom
    Presidential Medal of Freedom
    The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...

  • Polar Music Prize
    Polar Music Prize
    The Polar Music Prize is a Swedish international music award founded in 1989 by Stig Anderson, possibly best known to be the manager of the Swedish pop group ABBA, with a donation to the Royal Swedish Academy of Music....

     (2000; Sweden
    Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....


External links

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