Itzhak Perlman

“Yes, I have”: a story about an encounter with Itzhak Perlman

This is a story about an encounter of a guest with Itzhak Perlman, as told by Matthew Kelly in his book The Rhythm of Life.

The story begins:

Itzhak Perlman is one of the finest violinists alive today. Several years ago, Perlman agreed to attend a charity reception after one of his concerts in Vienna. Tickets for the champagne reception were sold for the equivalent of five hundred American dollars per guest.

At the reception, while the guests mingled, Itzhak Perlman stood in a roped-off area flanked by sercurity guards. One by one the guests were led into the roped-off area and introduced to Perlman.

As one man entered the roped-off area, he stretched out his hand, shook hands with the violinest, and said, “Mr. Perlman, you were phenomenal tonight. Absolutely amazing.”

Perlman smiled and thanked the man graciously for the compliment.

The man continued, “All my life I have had a great love of the violin, and I have heard every great living violinist, but I have never heard anyone play the violin as brilliantly as you did tonight.”

Perlman smiled again but said nothing, and the man continued, “You know, Mr. Perlman, I would give my whole life to be able to play the violin like you did tonight.”

Perlman smiled once more and said, “I have.”

Indeed. He has given his whole life to practice and reach that amazing level of violin. The guest, although suggesting he would, hasn’t.

This story seems to remind me again of: Who we are is not what we say, but what we do.

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