Sign up for our Newsletter

Violinist Itzhak Perlman and his wife, Toby, at Shelter Island’s Perlman Music Program campus. Credit: Annie Watts file photo, the Shelter Island Reporter

Celebrated local violinist Itzhak Perlman doesn’t need anything better than a Stradivarius because no better instrument exists.

That’s what Perlman, who coaches young players at Shelter Island’s Perlman Music Program and is married to the school’s co-founder, Toby, said in a December “60 Minutes” segment about Stradivarius violins, which are believed to produce the finest sound in the world.

“It’s the violin of my dreams, you know,” Perlman told host Bill Whitaker. “If you want to play a pianissimo that is almost inaudible yet it carries through a hall that seats 3,000 people, there’s your Strad.”

The violin is believed to have been invented around 500 years ago. It was later perfected by Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737), who carved the stringed instruments from raw wood in his hometown of Cremona, Italy. According to “60 Minutes,” thousands of violins are still made in Cremona today using the very same techniques Stradivari employed in the 17th and 18th centuries.

If anyone can be considered an authority on what makes a violin the best of its kind it’s Perlman, who studied at the Juilliard School and has performed for U.S. presidents and Queen Elizabeth II. Click here to watch him play Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons: Spring” with Israel’s Philharmonic Orchestra.

“I can actually see the sound in my head,” Perlman said on “60 Minutes” of his beloved Stradivarius.

“God, it’s so difficult to describe,” he continued. “But each sound is different, so this one has that sparkle. There is a sparkle to the sound.”

To watch the full “60 Minutes” episode, click here. Perlman’s interview appears at the 37–minute mark.