Skip to main content

An image from Itzhak, a film by Alison Chernick.


It’s rare in the world of classical music for a performer to become a household name, but violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman is a brand unto himself.

In Alison Chernick’s documentary Itzhak, the artist is introduced wearing a Mets jersey, getting ready to perform the national anthem at Citi Field in Queens. He easily charms the VIPs as well as those in the cheap seats. A prodigious talent, to be sure, he’s also been blessed with the common touch.

The film blends his performances (with Zubin Mehta in Israel and Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden), with clips from his childhood in Tel Aviv, where, crippled by polio, he almost didn’t get into the prestigious Juilliard School. But it’s in his cozy kitchen — wallpapered with photos of his five kids, grandchildren and his wife of a half-century, Toby – that we get to know the man: the jovial grandfather, the joke teller, the dedicated husband, the patient teacher and loyal friend, who is as excited as a child as he makes his famous “garbage” soup for his long-time pal, Alan Alda.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons or for abuse. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies