What Itzhak Perlman Listens To

Virtuosic violinist and conductor Itzhak Perlman discusses his personal music preferences.

On Thursday, November 7, world-renowned violinist and conductor Itzhak Perlman spoke at Rollins. Presented by the Winter Park Institute in the Warden Arena of the Alfond Sports Center, Perlman discussed with levity his Israeli upbringing, practice regimen, career, and faith with professors of music Susan Lackman and Daniel Crozier.

But before his public presentation, I had the opportunity to chat with Perlman about his personal music preferences.

Justin Braun: Who are you listening to?
Itzhak Perlman: I listen to anything. From opera to hits of the ’50s to anything that’s good. On my way here I was listening to a singer by name of Joseph Schmidt who is an amazing tenor. I love listening to voices and sounds and tones.

JB: What inspires you about contemporary music?
IP: Sometimes, every now and then, I hear something and say, “That’s not bad.” But the problem with contemporary music is you need more than one listen to fully appreciate it and you usually don’t get that. People are always saying to me, “So how did you like it?” And, you know, it’s a challenge. Instead of saying, “Oh I like it,” I say, “I think it’s promising,” because I want to hear it again.

JB: What classical music should the casual listener add to his or her playlist?
IP: Start with something that’s accessible, like Bach or Vivaldi. Listen to any Brandenburg Concerto of Bach. For a beginning listener it’s accessible but it remains the most amazing music for even the sophisticated listeners. Of course, you can’t miss Mozart. And then there’s Beethoven. Just listen to Eine Kleine Nachtmusik of Mozart, which is a kind of beginners’ piece but it has everything. The beauty is that it’s so difficult to play. You think sometimes the pieces are simple and you can just pick it up. The beauty is that simplicity is difficult for the performer.

Next up for the Winter Park Institute is two-term U.S. Poet Laureate 2001-03 Billy Collins, who will give a reading of his writing on Tuesday, November 12, at 7 p.m. in the Tiedtke Concert Hall. Visit rollins.edu/wpi for more information.