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Paperback My First 79 Years Book

ISBN: 0306810069

ISBN13: 9780306810060

My First 79 Years

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Book Overview

There is no more beloved musician in the classical world than Isaac Stern, revered not only as a great violinist but also as a generous personality and a crucial figure in the world of the arts. One of the few people who has known every major classical musician of the last two-thirds of the twentieth century, he shares his personal and artistic experiences in this warm, passionate account of his life: the story of his rise to eminence; his feelings...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Maestro Stern

Music is the only means of touching two souls, excluding illegal drugs! His performance of the Sibelius concerto, third movement, is impeccable. The Sibelius is a student's exercise. It was meant to be be playable. But there is playing and then there is COMMUNICATING ! He communicates. Carnegie Hall was rescued from the wrecking ball only on his strength. Therein is a glorious story!

A Fiddler's Life

While pondering about how to write this review on "Isaac Stern: My First 79 Years," a thought came to my mind, "Our career is our gift to ourselves but our talent is a gift from God". Certainly Isaac Stern was one of those fortunate people who managed to use his talent from God to excel in his career and provide many "gifts" to the public and aspiring musicians. Not only was Stern a master violinist, he was also known as "The Man Who Saved Carneige Hall". With respect to his political life, Stern was a vocal supporter for the State of Israel and he served as America's musical ambassador during his world-wide concert tours for over 60 years. In his autobiography written with the renowned novelist, Chaim Potok, Isaac Stern portrays himself as a consummate concert violinist who loved music, young talent, and good food. His "joie de vie", energy, and devotion to music comes shining through, from his descriptions of all-night jamming sessions to his fanatic concert schedule at a pace of over 100 concerts each year. Though he is not shy about his own accomplishments, Stern is even more enthusiastic when relating stories about his famous fellow artists and conductors including Pablo Casal, Itzhak Perlman, Bernstein, and Yo Yo Ma. Even though Stern was quite successful professionally and socially, his family life suffered. Throughout the novel, hints of his non-involvement with his family come from the times when Stern was absent for the births of his children and other major milestones. The breakdown of his long marriage with his second wife, Vera, with whom he had three children, was inevitable. Not surprisingly, only after his health forced him to slow down in his musical career, was Stern able to develop a loving relationship in his seventies with his third wife, Linda Reynolds. The consensus of our bookclub was that this novel provided a good synopsis of Stern's career but was not very revealing about his family and inner life. Baring his soul was clearly not the intent of this book. Instead, Stern gives us an accounting of his professional life and conveys his pride and joy of having the privilege to live the life of a fiddler successfully.

The book's a joy!

With the exception of Yehudi Menuhin, it's best to approach the autobiographical excursions of great musical artists with more than a little skepticism. How many disappointments have flown into the meadow by that route! This engaging effort by Isaac Stern is therefore a more than little delight, filled with the characteristically notable voice of one of the authentic humanists of the 20th century, not to mention one of the great fiddlers of all time. Stern's writing is great deal like his playing; verve and confidence riding the high clouds with surety and an unmistakably personal passion. I often thought, while reading this book, how no one in my experience plays Kreisler's 'Schon Rosmarin' like Stern -for all the salon qualities of the piece, it has a heart of pure gold- and this book resembles that little encore nugget in more than a few ways: true, one wishes at times that Stern would simply go on with his thought, go on with the memory at hand, even with the discussion at hand; yet in many ways he keeps up the flavor of his reminiscences by the succinctness, and at times almost the distractedness, of his writing/speaking style. I would argue that in fact he does give us quite a bit of his way of looking at not only his own life, but the wonder called the human experience, it's just that with this man one simply wants the conversation to go on and on. Even when speaking of his children (which he does often, even including charming transcriptions of little tape recordings of Daddyspeak for his wife and children when he was so often away on tour), Stern's power to captivate arises full from his honesty, indeed one of the great attributes of his music making. Chaim Potok's hand in the affair seems somehow deep under, and therefore probably pervasive and beautifully wise (as is every Chaim Potok effort!), leaving Stern's voice alive and vibrant, humanly awkward at times, and always surprising in its direct power- very much like the playing of this most gifted of musicians. Despite the obvious limitations that will always attend a book like this, it remains a delight, charming if not all revealing, even moving. Lovers of music won't be disappointed!

A MASTER MUSICIAN TELLING HIS STORY MASTERFULLY

What is involved in playing a musical instrument? What is needed to become really good? How should music affect you? All of these questions are answered very well and many times while reading this book. I welled up with emotion within like you sometimes do while reading the Reader's Digest because of the content. I thought Stern's life was well presented in an interesting manner and with great detail. Anyone interested in classical music should truly enjoy this life story.

A compelling and informative autobiography.

Isaac Stern's My First 79 Years was written with Chaim Potok and presents a fine literary autobiography which covers Stern's experiences in the world of music and the arts. His views about the arts and the modern world blend with his background and experiences to make for an outstanding survey of 79 years of life.
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