Ivry Gitlis seems to play the violin from a place that knows something more about life; laughing where others fumble around in the dark. To the great joy of musicians who have befriended him, he is not hiding anything, and is willing to share what knowledge he has gained by living a life that is both inspired and inspiring. Emotive and lively, Gitlis has one of those rare personalities that permeate the souls of those who know him. Unsurprisingly, at 89, he’s a living legend among musicians.
On April 16, Gitlis joined violinists Maxim Vengerov, Janine Jansen, and Amihai Grosz; cellist Steven Isserlis; and pianist Martha Argerich in Brussels, where they got a jump on his upcoming 90th birthday by taking part in a concert in his honor at the Palais des Beaux-Arts. Among the works performed at the tribute: Vengerov’s stirring rendition of Variations on “God Save the King.”
Arabella Steinbacher, German concert violinist known for her polished technique, has received much musical inspiration from Gitlis, a friend and mentor. A few years ago, on the advice of her teacher, Ana Chumachenko, Steinbacher met Gitlis in Paris when she was 19. “He’s so different from anyone else I know. It’s always incredibly interesting just to spend time with him, to watch how he lives. Through his whole attitude about making music, he really opened my eyes.”