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article imageStern, The Fiddler On The Roof, Dies Aged 81

By Harvey McGavin     Sep 24, 2001 in Lifestyle
NEW YORK - The musical world paid tribute last night to the virtuoso violinist Isaac Stern, who died aged 81.
Perhaps best known as the soloist on the Oscar-winning soundtrack of the movie Fiddler on the Roof, Stern was one of the most prolific recording musicians of the last century.
He suffered heart failure at the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York on Saturday.
Russian-born Stern was revered in his adopted homeland after successfully campaigning to save the Carnegie Hall in New York from demolition by property developers in 1960. "Isaac was far more than a musician," said Sandy Weill, chairman of the Carnegie Hall. "He was a person who was outstanding in everything, whether thinking about politics or business or as a humanitarian."
The New York Times called him "one of the greatest instrumentalists of the 20th century", a sentiment echoed by The Washington Post which said he had reached "the summit of artistry". The Los Angeles Times praised his "elegant, unfaltering musicality".
Stern went with his parents to America at the age of 10 months and began piano lessons at the age of six. Two years later he switched to the violin after hearing a friend playing it, making his concert début with the San Francisco Symphony orchestra in 1936. In a career spanning six decades, he made more than 100 recordings and was acclaimed for his renditions of classical works as well as more contemporary composers.
Fiercely pro-Israel, he famously performed on Mount Scopus immediately after it was recaptured in the Six Day War of 1967. When a concert in Jerusalem during the Gulf War was interrupted by air raid sirens, he played on as members of the audience donned gas masks. He travelled widely – the film of his 1979 visit to China, From Mozart to Mao, won an Oscar for best documentary – but until late in his life, always refused to travel to Germany because of the Holocaust.
At his peak, he performed up to 200 times a year. He held a dozen honorary degrees, and was given America's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1992.
Stern is survived by his wife, Linda Reynolds Stern who he married in 1996, and two sons and a daughter from a previous marriage.
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