Itzhak Perlman
Itzhak Perlman

Violinist Itzhak Perlman, stricken with polio as a child, slowly and painfully walked with his two crutches across the stage until he reached his chair. After undoing the clasps on his leg braces, he grasped his violin, tucked it comfortably under his chin, nodded to the conductor, and began to play. The audience settled back to enjoy Perlman's remarkable genius-until they heard one of his strings snap abruptly.

Everyone expected the virtuoso to replace the broken string on his famous Stradivarius or, perhaps, continue with an entirely different instrument. But instead, Perlman waited a minute, closed his eyes, and then signaled the conductor to start again. When the orchestra began, Perlman joined them, simultaneously recomposing the music in his mind to adjust for the missing string. That night, Itzhak Perlman accomplished an impossible feat: He played a symphonic work with just three strings on his violin.

When it was over, the astonished audience jumped to their feet and cheered wildly.

Perlman smiled and raised his bow to quiet the crowd. "You know," he said thoughtfully, "sometimes it is the artist's task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left."

Itzhak Perlman, one of the world's greatest violinists, was born in Tel Aviv, Israel. He has won 15 Grammy awards and four Emmys. Music critics hail not only his passion and exuberance for his art, but also the human dignity he radiates onstage. In his personal life, Itzhak Perlman tirelessly advocates on behalf of people with disabilities.