At the age of four, Perlman contracted polio, damaging the use of his legs. Nevertheless, he began studying the violin at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv, after hearing it played on the radio. When he was merely thirteen, Perlman moved to the United States to study music at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. In 1963, he made his debut at Carnegie Hall and won the competitive Levintritt Competition in 1964. In 1968, he made his debut in London. Since 1975, Perlman has been a professor of Brooklyn College.
In 1987, he joined the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO), and toured throughout Eastern Europe. In 1990, Perlman traveled again with the IPO to the USSR, for their first-ever performance in Moscow and Leningrad. Perlman would travel with the IPO a third time in 1994, performing in China and India.
In the 1970s, Perlman made numerous television appearances on such shows as The Tonight Show and Sesame Street. Perlman also became a regular guest at the White House, performing at a number of functions. He has also been a soloist for a number of movie scores, particularly the score of Schindler’s List (1993) by John Williams, which won the Academy Award that year for “Best Score.” In 2005, Perlman was the violin soloist for Memoirs of a Geisha, along with cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
Although he is best known for playing classical music, Perlman is also a renowned jazz and klezmer artist.
In 2003, Perlman was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors.
Source: “Itzhak Perlman (1945 - ).” American Jewish Desk Reference. NY: Random House, 1999. pg. 395-6.
Itzhak Perlman: World Concert Artist Directory