September 25, 2001
ISAAC STERN was the most influential violinist of our time. His range was breathtaking, his enthusiasm infectious. Mr. Stern, who died at age 81 over the weekend, was a man of strong convictions. He passionately fought to save Carnegie Hall. He ardently supported Israel. And his adamant boycott of Germany, because of the Holocaust, ended only two years ago when he finally agreed to go there for a nine-day teaching seminar. Despite his hectic concert schedules, Mr. Stern had a burning desire to teach.
September 24, 2001
These days, New York's landmark buildings seem more valuable -- and vulnerable -- than ever. One of them, Carnegie Hall, nearly disappeared in 1960, to make way for a parking lot. What stopped the wrecking ball was a short, plump man best known for playing the violin very well. His name was Isaac Stern. If Stern, who died Saturday of heart failure in New York at the age 81, had done nothing else in his life but save Carnegie Hall, he'd still be one of America's musical giants. But the violinist, being mourned worldwide, did a lot more than preserve a great edifice.
September 27, 2000
Mark O'Connor is on the phone from New York, explaining why he had to make a change in his schedule. "I came in a day early and went to Isaac Stern's birthday party," he says. "Lot of good music, friends. Yo-Yo played, Manny Ax, Midori, Zukerman. It was good." To some music fans, it may seem odd that O'Connor would be on such intimate terms with classical musicians. Sure, he's made a few genre-jumping albums with Yo-Yo Ma, "Appalachian Journey" being the most recent. But Isaac Stern? Pinchas Zukerman?
January 9, 2000
NOT TOO long ago, I watched Isaac Stern being interviewed by Charlie Rose, and I noted with pleasure that time had been kind to the wondrous fiddler. The hair was all silver now, for sure, and the face seemed a bit more jowly than I remembered it, but the eyes still had their sparkle, and the resonant baritone held its own against the voice of Rose, which is not always easy to do. The news was that Isaac Stern had just written a book about himself called "My First 79 Years." And this is music to my ears.
November 22, 1997
MORIOKA, Japan -- Isaac Stern is talking to his violin."C'mon baby, back to sleep," the violinist says tenderly, tucking the priceless Guarnerius del Gesu once owned by the legendary Eugene Ysaye back into its case.When the great violinist will get the rest he bestows upon his beloved instrument is less certain.Stern, the Baltimore Symphony and conductor David Zinman had just delivered a passionate performance of Bruch's G Minor Concerto to a wildly appreciative audience here last night, just as they had the night before in Tokyo's Suntory Hall.
April 21, 1996
For more than 15 years, Isaac Stern has appeared to music lovers less like a great violinist and more like, to quote William Butler Yeats, "a sixty-year-old smiling public man."This is scarcely surprising. In the years since 1960, Stern -- who celebrated his 75th birthday last year -- has saved Carnegie Hall, contributed mightily to the fight for racial equality, helped create the National Endowment for the Arts, raised millions of dollars for the state of Israel, starred in an Academy Award-winnning documentary ("From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China")