He is a legend even among other violinists and has been at the top of his profession for over sixty years. Probably the last of a great tradition, he is both our link to the past and our guide for the future. For most musicians he is THE violinist. Has appeared in films with The Rolling Stones and Isabelle Adjani. He has jammed with John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Marcel Marceau and Stephane Grappelli. Today he enjoys improvising with Youssou N’Dour and with his sons’ rock ‘n’ roll band, Enhancer.
His recordings of the concertos by Stravinsky, Paganini, Tchaikovsky and Alban Berg (which won the Grand Prix du Disque) are reckoned to be among the definitive accounts of these works. His CD of the Bartok Concerto was voted Best Record of the Year by the New York Herald Tribune. He performs regularly in front of presidents and kings.
The Great Tradition from which he comes is not only the tradition of East-European violin playing, which spread across the world as a result of the pogroms in Russia – to the United States and the concert houses of Europe – a tradition which has reverberated with all contemporary violinists. It is also the tradition of storytelling, of the troubadour keeping alive the folk memories of an entire generation. And what a storyteller Ivry Gitlis is – a non-stop stream of tales about the frequent absurdities of music-making, of how not to play the violin, of the meaning of ‘being Jewish’ - all with a passion and self-evident love of his art. An unforgettable film.