Isaac

Isaac Stern
1920 - 2001

His parents emigrated to the U.S. when he was an infant and settled in San Francisco. He first studied the piano and then turned to the violin at the age of 10. After attending the San Francisco Conservatory, he found his principal mentor in Naoum Blinder. He also had some lessons with Louis Persinger. While still a youth, Stern appeared in recitals and with orchestras. At age 17, he made his N.Y. recital debut at Town Hall on Oct. 11, 1937. It was not until he made his Carnegie Hall recital debut in N.Y. on Jan. 8, 1943, however, that his career began to blossom. He subsequently appeared as a recitalist and as a soloist with orchestras in various U.S. music centers. After making his European debut at the Lucerne Festival in 1948, Stern toured widely around the globe. In 1956 he made an acclaimed tour of the Soviet Union. In 1961 he organized a trio with Eugene Istomin and Leonard Rose, which remained one of the premiere trios of the day until Rose's death in 1983. Stern celebrated the 25th anniversary of his Carnegie Hall debut in 1968. His career continued unabated in succeeding years. In 1979 he toured Communist China, an event featured in the film documentary FROM MAO TO MOZART: ISAAC STERN IN CHINA. His career was chronicled in the subsequent film documentary ISAAC STERN: A LIFE (1991). In a career lasting more than 60 years, Stern remained faithful to the creed of those virtuosos to whom fame is a natural adjunct to talent and industry. His repertoire was enormous, encompassing both the great masters of the past and many contemporary composers. In addition to his career in music, Stern maintained a high profile as an advocate of cultural enrichment and human rights. When Carnegie Hall faced the prospect of demolition in 1960, he spearheaded the effort to save the historical edifice for future generations. Thereafter, he served as its president. His honors have been numerous. In 1979 he was made an Officier of the Légion d'honneur of France, in 1984 he received the Kennedy Center Honors Award, in 1987 he was given the Wolf Prize of Israel, in 1992 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom of the U.S., and in 2000 he received the Polar Music Award of Sweden. With C. Potock, he published his autobiography as ISAAC STERN: MY FIRST 79 YEARS (N.Y., 1999).