Legendary violinist Isaac Stern was once confronted by a woman after a concert. She told him, “Oh, Id’ give my life to play like you!”
“Lady,” Stern said acidly, “that I did!”
Isaac Stern was not a prodigy nor a virtuoso, but he built his reputation in the mid-1940’s with a rich tone and emotional interpretive style. It was his hard work and dedication to his craft of the violin. In the 1960’s, when comparatively few soloists devoted time to chamber music, he teamed up with the pianist Eugene Istomin and the cellist Leonard Rose to perform and record as a trio.
Isaac was not concerned with what the trend and what the public was expecting. He just wanted to play the style of music that he wanted to play. If he was going to devote his life to be great at something, he wanted to at least enjoy it. Something that many easily forget as they follow the expecations of others and where the industry is heading. Isaac wanted to create his own path in the classical music world.
In 1999 he gave a series of master classes and he made a point of encouraging the students to think not only about the technicalities of performing, but about an artist’s responsibility ”to continue the search for beauty and humanity.” Not only did Isaac share his intense passion for music, but he also became an important power broker in the classical music world after he led a successful campaign to save Carnegie Hall. He wanted to preserve the community and culture that he loved so much. Violin allowed him to do extraordinary things in his life.
What can you learn from Isaac Stern?
Committing to one skill for the rest of your life may or may not be something you have thought about doing. Just because you can’t live off of doing “one thing” doesn’t mean that you can’t commit to be a life long learner. Whether you are learning a new craft or building upon one you already do, don’t be afraid to make it a life long commitment. Great things, wonderful things can harvest from eternal education.
“You have no idea of what you don’t know. Now it’s time that you begin to learn.”
Photo By Bogaerts, Rob / Anefo [CC-BY-SA-3.0-nl (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons