How I acquired Yehudi's fiddle BY ITZHAK PERLMAN Violinist

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The Independent Culture
I first met Yehudi when I was about 10 or 11 and growing up in Tel Aviv. This would have been in the mid-1950s. He came to play with the symphony orchestra, and I got the chance to play with him at the house where he was staying. I don't remember what we played, just that that he was extremely sweet and kind, qualities I've always associated with him since. Even as a young boy I recognised a charisma that he had even when not on stage.

There's no doubt that he was a phenomenon, one of the giants of this century certainly. As a youngster he was probably the greatest prodigy there's been. What strikes you about his playing at that age was the expression of emotion that he was able to translate into his music. He had a wonderful, vibrant tone that stayed with him throughout his career - a musicality that just overflowed, a sound that had a pulsing quality to it. It was something that was very definitely his own, that you recognised straightaway.

I only played with him once. It was in Holland, and we played the Bach double concerto. The performances of his I remember best were when he did the Brahms sextets at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the Elgar Violin Concerto he did at the Royal Albert Hall, I think under Adrian Boult. He had an incredible stage presence and charisma.

Having got to know one another, we wrote to each other frequently. Then, a few years ago, I had the good fortune to acquire his violin. I was visiting him at his school, and I was looking for a new fiddle. I asked Yehudi if he knew of anything suitable. He said something about a friend of a friend of his who was selling one.

Then I asked him if I could try out his own violin. I played it for a few moments and realised what a wonderful instrument it was. I fell in love with it straightaway. It was a 1714 Stradivarius. I said to Yehudi, "If you ever think you might want to get rid of this fiddle, let me know." He didn't forget. A few years later he contacted me saying, would I like to buy his violin. So I did, and it's now the violin I use for all my recordings and concerts. It's like a common bond. I'm very proud of it.