Violinists: Cry Now, Play Later

Time for a violin lesson with Ivan Galamian. The place is a memento-cluttered study in his Manhattan apartment, where he does all his teaching. Students call it the torture chamber.

Nobody is allowed here who has not already shown talent and promise. Still, it is hard not to be nervous. Autographed portraits of Kreisler, Szigeti, Milstein—all good friends of Galamian's —glare down from the walls. The air seems to tingle with his awesome reputation in the violin world. Isaac Stern calls him "the most effective violin teacher in the country," and he...