Thursday, 9 October 2008

Itzhak Perlman on TV Friday

On Friday October 10th BBC 4 TV will be screening a film about Itzhak Perlman. Perlman wanted to be a violinist from age 3 but then he got polio which was often fatal in the late 40's. He survived but was left severely limping, which in those days people couldn't deal with. They assumed he couldn't appear on stage, travel etc. Things were very different then before people became aware of disability. Yet he persisted and went to the Juilliard and then on the Ed Sullivan show, just like the Beatles ! This film shows how he's built up inner resources to sustain a successful career. Perlman is self-effacing, but his warmth and innate decency mark him out. If anything, his modesty restrains the film, for much could be made of his stellar career, his campaigns for the disabled, his numerous awards, his connections with royalty and the White House and so on. But you won’t find them in this film. Instead, we see him as a person first, then as a consummate artist. He has remained true to himself as to his music. That is the achievement of this lovely, intimate film, because it reveals how an ordinary human being can achieve great things through integrity and faith … and talent and hard work. As Perlman says, as a child he often had to play late in the evening, after dinner parties when people weren’t actually listening. It taught him to find ways of getting attention, but to his credit, he learned to do so on his own terms.

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