Violinists: Return of the Prodigy

The violin is a Jewish instrument. At least that is the popular conception in Israel, where, next to having a college professor in the family, the proudest parents are those who can boast about "my son the violin player." Indeed, the front rank of the world's best violinists is predominantly Jewish—David Oistrakh, Nathan Milstein, Leonid Kogan, Yehudi Menuhin, Jascha Heifetz, Isaac Stern.

This national affection for the violin, says Jerusalem Critic-Composer Yohanan Boehm, stems from the days when the wandering Jews of Eastern Europe adopted the instrument from the gypsies. "The violin was...

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