The Arty Semite

Watching YouTube With Itzhak Perlman

By Jon Kalish

  • Print
  • Share Share

At Itzhak Perlman’s home on the East End of Long Island, the great violinist wakes up his MacBook to play back some khazones through a huge flat screen TV on the wall. As he flips through his iTunes collection and some YouTube videos, he recalls listening to such cantorial greats as Gershon Serota, Moshe Kousevittsky, Yossele Rosenblatt and an Israeli khazan named Leibele Glantz, who davened at the shul where Perlman had his bar mitzvah.

Growing up in Tel Aviv in the mid-1950’s. Perlman started listening to cantorial music on the radio. He was about 10 years old at the time.

“I remember the khazones hour was on shabbos,” he tells me. “The only entertainment we had in the house was the radio. There was no television, so the radio was on all the time. That’s how I got to hear my first recordings of classical music and cantorial music and later on, rock ‘n roll.”

Perlman plays me a YouTube video of Joseph Schmidt, a 4’ 9” Romanian Jew who made records and films before dying in a Swiss refugee camp during the Holocaust. Schmidt, Perlman explained, did some cantorial music but was too short to perform opera on stage.

“Listen to this guy. He had the most amazing voice,” Perlman says.

Scrolling through his iTunes library, he comes to “A Dudele,” a song composed by a chasidic rabbi in Ukraine named Levi Yizchok of Berditchev. The song ponders the intimate nature of his relationship with God and is one of the compositions on the New “Eternal Echoes” CD Perlman recorded with Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot.

After pointing out that he performed “A Dudele” as an instrumental with an orchestra on his “Tradition” CD, the violin virtuoso observes, “A lot people did ‘A Dudele.’ I listened to Hirschman do it just this morning. Very beautiful. And there was one that was quite operatic done by Jan Peerce.”

After 15 minutes of playing old school khazones for me, the classical music superstar declared, “That’s all I got here,” and put his MacBook to sleep. He piloted his electric scooter outside and up a ramp to his van then drove me to the Long Island Rail Road Station. Just before dropping me off in front of a deli across the street from the station, Perlman told me about eating foie gras with matzah at a fancy restaurant in Switzerland. But that’s a story for another time.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Meir Helfgot, Joseph Schmidt, Jan Peerce, Itzhak Perlman



Find us on Facebook!
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.