Violinist Isaac Stern (1920-2001) was born on this day in the Ukraine and as an infant his family emigrated to San Francisco to escape Russia's 1921 revolution.
Stern began playing the violin at age eight and had his first recital with the San Francisco Symphony while still a teen. He quickly dazzled audiences and critics throughout the world with his ability to create beautiful music with his violin.
"A man possesses talent; genius possesses the man," he said.
The renowned virtuoso called himself "a fiddle player" and captured inspired renditions of Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. He also celebrated the music of contemporary composers and played the violin for the film Fiddler on the Roof (1971).
"I'm a stage person. I love to go on stage," he said in a 1999 interview. "I have a full life ... I love teaching. I love talking about music."
With this passion, Stern dedicated himself to passing on his love for music, mentoring younger musicians, including Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma. A musical ambassador of goodwill, he spread his talent with master classes for students throughout the world.
As he said, "When you believe in something, you can move mountains."
Known for his great political involvement, Stern lobbied and saved Carnegie Hall from demolition and was a founding member of the National Endowment for the Arts.
"I was put on earth to bring comfort, relief, and beauty," he said. "There's only one thing an artist can get that's greater than any other recognition, and that's suddenly, in one unexplainable moment, to feel necessary and useful."
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