Pinchas Zukerman

Pinchas Zukerman, born on July 16, 1948, is a renowned Israeli violinist, violist, and conductor who is best known for his role as the music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Canada (NAC) from 1998 to 2015.


Zukerman was born in Tel Aviv in 1948 and grew up in Holon. His father, Yehuda Zukerman, a native of Lodz, Poland, was a violinist and klezmer musician who played as a violinist in the Lodz Philharmonic Orchestra before World War II.

His father survived Auschwitz but tragically lost his first wife and children during the Holocaust. Zukerman is the only child from Yehuda's second marriage to Miriam, who was also born in Poland.

Zukerman began studying music under his father's guidance and later with Ilona Feher. At the age of 14, he was sent to the United States with the support of Isaac Stern, Pablo Casals, the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, and the Helena Rubinstein Foundation to study at the Juilliard School in New York, where he excelled under the guidance of renowned teachers.

During this time, he also began studying the viola with Joseph Gingold, about whom Zukerman remarked, "He is someone who appears once in a century." He later continued his studies under the mentorship of Ivan Galamian.

It is said that during this period, he learned the key to playing the viola in just ten minutes. After his debut performance in New York in 1963, he was hailed by The New York Times as a "phenomenon" known for his virtuosity and strong expressive abilities. In 1967, he won first place in the Leventritt Competition (alongside Kyung-wha Chung of Korea).

Zukerman is a close friend of pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim and violinist Itzhak Perlman. In the early 1970s, he was already a close friend of the Barenboims and the cellist Jacqueline du Pré, often performing and recording with them.

In 1979, he was invited along with Itzhak Perlman to represent Israel in a special celebration in honor of the signing of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. From 1980 to 1987, he served as the musical director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in Minnesota.

Zukerman has recorded over 100 works and has been nominated for 21 Grammy Awards, winning two. In 1981, he won a Grammy with Itzhak Perlman for Music for Two Violins (Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante/Kreisler: Duets/Prokofiev: Sonata for Two Violins).

In 1982, he, along with Zubin Mehta, Itzhak Perlman, and Isaac Stern, received a Grammy for a performance commemorating Isaac Stern's sixty-year anniversary. Additional awards include the King Solomon Prize from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, the Presidential Medal of Honor in the Arts presented by Ronald Reagan in 1983, and the Isaac Stern Award for Artistic Excellence.

In the 2005-2006 season, Zukerman performed in numerous concerts throughout the United States, touring Washington, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami, and Chicago. He also appeared as a conductor or soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Zukerman embarked on concert tours in Belgium and Germany with the National Orchestra of Belgium and gave recitals with pianist Marc Neikrug in London, Paris, Moscow, Milan, Munich, and Birmingham. In October 2006, Pinchas Zukerman and Amanda Forsyth performed with the FM Classic Orchestra in Sofia, Bulgaria, under the direction of Maxim Vengerov.

Zukerman is known as a proponent of authentic performance practices and is quoted as saying that authentic performance is a farce that nobody wants to hear.

His first marriage was to flutist Eugenia Zukerman (1968–1985). Their two daughters, Adalah, who is an opera singer, and Natalia, who is a folk-rock singer. He was later married to actress Tuesday Weld (1985–1998).

Today, he is married to Amanda Forsyth, the principal cellist of the NAC Orchestra, and resides in the Rockcliffe Park area of Ottawa, Canada.

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