Pinchas Zukerman

By Patricia Finger

The Louisville Orchestra MasterWorks Series featured celebrated violinist, Pinchas Zukerman, on Friday and Saturday, October 19 and 20, 1990, in Whitney Hall of the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Zukerman appeared in special tribute to the centennial of the Jewish Community Center in the Saturday performance, honoring the small group of amateur musicians of 1916 who began what is now the Louisville Orchestra. This Jewish Community Center group was reorganized as the Louisville Civic Orchestra in 1938, and in 1955 it became the Louisville Orchestra.

The concert by Mr. Zukerman and the Louisville Orchestra consisted of the beloved Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35, by Tschaikovsky. Established as one of the glories of the Romantic virtuoso repertory, the work is formidable with technical difficulties. Although Mr. Zukerman seemed almost complacent during orchestral sections of the music, his technical abilities and sensitivity with his instrument continued to stun the audience.

Zukerman, born in Tel Aviv in 1948, began studying the violin at the age of eight at the Israel Conservatory and the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv. With the guidance of Isaac Stern and Pablo Casals, he came to study at the Juilliard School in New York in 1962. Although he is best known as a virtuoso violinist, Zukerman excels as conductor as well and is known as a champion of young artists.

Zukerman spent the Saturday afternoon before the concert at Hawley-Cooke Booksellers on Gardiner Lane autographing copies of his recording of the Tschaikovsky concerto made with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic (CBS Records), talking with fans and inspiring some young musicians. When asked how often he practices every day, he responded with "As much as I need to!" For the children musicians present, he recommended to them (with a twinkle in his eyes) to practice about an hour daily.

Conducting and playing appearances with the English Chamber Orchestra in their first U. S. tour together highlights Zukerman's 1990-91 season. Other concerts include a recital tour with Itzhak Perlman and appearances in the Carnegie Hall Centennial Celebration. Pinchas Zukerman continues his prolific and extraordinary career as a leader in the world of music.