Pinchas Zukerman began playing the violin when he was given one by his dad, a musician, at the age of seven. After being taught by him for a few months, Zukerman discovered that he had a good ear. “We went to a teacher just south of Tel Aviv and she said that she couldn’t fit me in. But then she went to tune my instrument and I said ‘oh no, I can tune’ – I could hardly put the bow on the string but I could tune. And she said, ‘in that case I can start with him tomorrow.’”

When asked in an interview for the Berliner Philharmoniker how he has maintained such rich sound from an early age, Zukerman credits this to his genetics. He explains, “I come from a particular DNA. The DNA exists as a klezmer, my father was a great klezmer. So immediately music was part of our existence. It was not “you have to this this and this and this”, it wasn’t a job. It was playing, it was also a resurgence. In 1956 when I started to play the violin, we had in Israel a resurgence of the soul, the human soul. A new beginning after a miserable war. I then had a terrific teacher, so I came here with an idea of sonority. Sonority is just about everything we need. Every singer will say that when they feel good their sonority is healthy.”

Zukerman additionally stresses the importance of practice. He believes establishing a routine that involves scales, arpeggios and intonation is crucial for the process of creating a solid toolbox to draw from. He says, “With learning about music, you learn how to use all of your tools. What I know today and I’ve known for a long time, I apply it every day.”

The violinist is married to the renowned Amanda Forsyth, with whom he regularly performs. Forsyth, an extraordinary cellist, draws most of her inspiration from her father and composer Malcolm Forsyth. Her father had been suffering from pancreatic cancer during the composition of his last piece, A Ballad of Canada. At the time he had been told he only had two months to live, but miraculously he lived nine and made it to the premiere of his piece with all of his oxygen tanks. Forsyth’s hope is to familiarize audiences with her father’s soundworld, a melodious blend of Canadian and African background.

When asked if the Zukerman and Forsyth’s musical relationship makes for a harmonious domestic environment, Forsyth replied, “He’s the maestro, but I’m pretty bossy. They don’t call me ‘Demanda’ for nothing. If I’m in the kitchen making coffee and he’s practicing something, I’ll say “that’s flat” or “that’s the wrong note”. He likes it. And then he can boss me around at other times. It’s give and take and that’s why it’s all good.”

(Source: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker)


Pinchas Zukerman and Amanda Forsyth will be performing the Brahms Double Concerto with the Madison Symphony Orchestra February 14, 15, and 16. If you’d like to purchase tickets to “Romantic Encounter” or any other 2019–2020 Symphony Season concerts, single tickets are on sale now.