The Lives of Isaac Stern

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2019

The Lives of Isaac Stern is a cen­ten­ni­al cel­e­bra­tion of the career and lega­cy of the first made-in-Amer­i­ca vio­lin vir­tu­oso and one of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry’s great­est musi­cians. David Schoen­baum, the first his­to­ri­an to mine Stern’s papers at the Library of Con­gress, exam­ines Stern’s myr­i­ad careers, not only as a musi­cian, but also as an activist, pub­lic cit­i­zen, chair­man, and cul­tur­al leader in the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty. No sin­gle Amer­i­can could per­son­i­fy what Hen­ry Luce called the Amer­i­can Cen­tu­ry,” but Isaac Stern came clos­er than most. Russ­ian-Jew­ish par­ents brought him to San Fran­cis­co at ten months; prac­tice and tal­ent got him to Carnegie Hall and crit­i­cal acclaim. Stern would go on to make music on five con­ti­nents, and friends as dif­fer­ent as Frank Sina­tra and Sir Isa­iah Berlin. An unof­fi­cial cul­tur­al ambas­sador for Cold War Amer­i­ca, Stern toured the world from Tokyo to Tehran and Tbil­isi. He also shaped pub­lic pol­i­cy from New York and Wash­ing­ton to Jerusalem and Shang­hai. He had a pas­sion for devel­op­ing young tal­ents and his list of stu­dents include Itzhak Perl­man, Pin­chas Zuk­er­man, Yo-Yo Ma, and Midori. Wide-rang­ing yet inti­mate, The Lives of Isaac Stern is a por­trait of an artist and states­man who left a last­ing inher­i­tance to his art, pro­fes­sion, and the world.

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