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Stern, Isaac

Stern, Isaac

Born in 1920


Inducted in 1998

Isaac Stern was raised in San Francisco and began playing the violin when he was eight years old. From 1932 to 1937 his principal teacher was Naum Blinder, the brilliant Russian born concertmaster of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. The young Stern made his recital debut at the age of 13, and three years later performed as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony under Pierre Monteux. His New York recital debut at Town Hall followed in 1937, and his first Carnegie Hall recital in 1943. He made his European debut at the Lucerne Festival in 1948, took part in the Casals Festival at Perpignan in 1950, appeared at the Edinburgh Festival in 1953, and toured the Soviet Union in 1956. He began recording for Columbia Records in 1945 and in the more than six decades since then amassed a large discography. On his 50th anniversary with that label he was named its first "laureate artist." His work for film and television includes From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China (the full-length documentary of his 1981 visit to China, which won an Academy Award), the CBS broadcast of "The Grand Reopening" of Carnegie Hall (Emmy Award, 1987), and Isaac Stern A Life. He also played on the sound tracks of the movies Humoresque, Tonight We Sing, and Fiddler on the Roof. When Carnegie Hall was scheduled for demolition it was Mr. Stern who organized the group that saved it. He became President of Carnegie Hall and held that position for more than 35 years, overseeing the restoration of the hall in 1986. He was a founding member of the National Endowment for the Arts in 1964, and was appointed to the National Council on the Arts by President Lyndon Johnson. He was also chairman of the AmericaIsrael Cultural Foundation, and chairman and founder of the Jerusalem Music Center, which opened in 1975 and assists Israeli musicians in establishing international careers. One of the most eloquent speakers in any area of American life, Mr. Stern was an effective spokesman for musical and humanitarian causes, his stunning energy apparently self renewing. He received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1984, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992, in addition to more than a dozen honorary doctorates from prestigious universities in the United States, Great Britain and Israel.