On April 2, 1940, Russian-born American musician Isaac Stern (1920 – 2001) played the Lobero Theatre for a second time.
Stern was considered one of the premier violinists of the twentieth century, and appeared at least five times here throughout his storied career, with performances in: 1939, 1940, 1945, 1951, and 1952.
Thanks to his expressive playing and engaging style, Stern rapidly gained recognition with audiences and toured extensively all over the world, appearing at major festivals.
Harold C. Schonberg put Stern’s artistry in perspective reviewing one of his performances in The New York Times in 1962:
”Mr. Stern’s playing is a perfect illustration of the fact that a big tone can be delicately and even vigorously colored without recourse to a heavy vibrato… by holding to a clean musical line, Mr. Stern makes his interpretations that much more beautiful.”
In addition to his concert performances, Stern appeared on radio and television and made numerous recordings. Active in organizations promoting the arts, he played a key role in saving New York City’s Carnegie Hall from demolition in 1960 and later became president of the corporation that administered the hall and its cultural programs; he held the post until his death. In 1964 he helped establish the National Endowment for the Arts.
Stern was also noted for his encouragement of young musicians and aided the careers of Yo-Yo Ma and violinist Itzhak Perlman, among others. Stern was recognized with several distinguished awards including the Kennedy Center Honors Award (1984) and a GRAMMY for lifetime achievement (1987). A documentary of his 1979 tour of China, From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China, received an Academy Award in 1981. Stern’s autobiography, My First 79 Years (cowritten with Chaim Potok), was published in 1999.
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