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Making Music with What You Have Left

Thought I'd pass this one on. . .

Making Music with What You Have Left

On Nov. 18, 1995, Itzhak Perlman, the violinist, came
on stage to give a concert at Avery Fisher Hall at
Lincoln Center in New York City. If you have ever been
to a Perlman concert, you know that getting on stage
is no small achievement for him. He was stricken with
polio as a child, and so he has braces on both legs
and walks with the aid of two crutches.

To see him walk across the stage one step at a time,
painfully and slowly, is an unforgettable sight. He
walks painfully, yet majestically, until he reaches
his chair. Then he sits down, slowly, puts his
crutches on the floor, undoes the clasps on his legs,
tucks one foot back and extends the other foot
forward. Then he bends down and picks up the
violin, puts it under his chin, nods to the conductor
and proceeds to play.

By now, the audience is used to this ritual. They sit
quietly while he makes his way across the stage to his
chair. They remain reverently silent while he undoes
the clasps on his legs. They wait until he is ready to
play. But this time, something went wrong. Just as he
finished the first few bars, one of the strings on his
violin broke. You could hear it snap -it went off like
gunfire across the room. There was no mistaking what
that sound meant. There was no mistaking what he had
to do.

People who were there that night thought to
"We figured that he would have to get up, put on the
clasps again, pick up the crutches and limp his way
stage - to either find another violin or else find
another string for this one."

But he didn't. Instead, he waited a moment, closed his
eyes and then signaled the conductor to begin again.
The orchestra began, and he played from where he had
left off. And he played with such passion and such
power and such purity as they had never heard before.
Of course, anyone knows that it is impossible to play
symphonic work with just three strings. I know that,
and you know that, but that night Itzhak Perlman
refused to know that.

You could see him modulating, changing, recomposing
the piece in his head.  At one point, it sounded like
he was de-tuning the strings to get new sounds from
them that they had never made before.

When he finished, there was an awesome silence in the
room. And then people rose and cheered. There was an
extraordinary outburst of applause from every corner
the auditorium. We were all on our feet, screaming and
cheering, doing everything we could to show how much
we appreciated what he had done.

He smiled, wiped the sweat from this brow, raised his
bow to quiet us, and then he said, not boastfully, but
in a quiet, pensive, reverent tone, "You know,
sometimes it is the artist's task to find out how much
music you can still make with what you have left."

What a powerful line that is. It has stayed in my mind
ever since I heard it.  And who knows? Perhaps that is
the [way] of life--not just for artists but for all of

So, perhaps our task in this shaky, fast-changing,
bewildering world in which we live is to make music,
at first with all that we have, and then, when that is
no longer possible, to make music with what we have

-By Jack Riemer, Houston Chronicle

mindy belloff  ~  mabell                                        http://www.IntimaPress.com

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