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#421180 - 08/21/06 05:04 PM Jewish Pianists
pianoloverus Online   content
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I found this list while surfing. Quite amazing considering only about 1 out 500 people are Jewish. Any thoughts why there is such preponderence of great pianists who were Jewish? I think it is a cultural phenomenon.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
JEWISH PIANISTS
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Charles Alkan
Vladimir Ashkenazy 1
Emanuel Ax
Victor Babin
Gina Bachauer 11
Dmitri Bashkirov 13
Daniel Barenboim
Simon Barere
Boris Berman

Lazar Berman
Victor Borge
Alexander Borovsky
Alexander Brailowsky
Yefim Bronfman
Ignaz Bruell
Shura Cherkassky
Harriet Cohen
Bella Davidovich
Misha Dichter
Samuil Feinberg
Vladimir Feltsman
Annie Fischer 2
Leon Fleisher
Yakov Flier
Claude Frank
Ignaz Friedman
Emil Gilels
Grigory Ginsburg
Leopold Godowsky
Alexander Goldenweiser 8
Richard Goode
Gary Graffman
Mark Hambourg
Clara Haskil
Myra Hess
Vladimir Horovitz
Eugene Istomin 9
Byron Janis
Joseph Kalichstein
William Kapell
Julius Katchen
Mindru Katz

Louis Kentner
Evgeny Kissin
Vladimir Krainev 14
Lili Kraus 10
Wanda Landowska
Ruth Laredo
Josef Lhévinne
Rosina Lhévinne
Radu Lupu 3
Hephzibah Menuhin
Benno Moiseiwitsch
Ignaz Moscheles
Murray Perahia
Menahem Pressler
André Previn
Michael Roll
Moritz Rosenthal
Anton Rubinstein
Artur Rubinstein
Nikolai Rubinstein
Harold Samuel
András Schiff 4
Artur Schnabel
Peter Serkin 5
Rudolf Serkin
Abbey Simon

Solomon (Cutner)
Wladyslaw Szpilman
Mark Taimanov
Carl Tausig
Sigismund Thalberg
Rosalyn Tureck
Isabella Vengerova 12
Alexis Weissenberg
Paul Wittgenstein 6
Maria Yudina 7

NOTES
1. Jewish father, non-Jewish mother.
2. See Jewish Budapest by Kinga Frojimovics et al. (Central European University Press, Budapest and New York, 1999, p. 366.)
3. Information confirmed by sources in the Romanian émigré community in Israel.
4. See http://www.jewhoo.com.
5. Jewish father, non-Jewish mother.
6. Like his brother the philosopher, Paul Wittgenstein was three-quarters Jewish.
7. See http://www.jewishgen.org/Belarus/rje_y.htm.
8. Jewish father, non-Jewish mother.
9. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A11016-2003Oct10.html. Tim Page's obituary article in the Washington Post stated that Istomin's parents were "of Russian-Jewish ancestry." Based on name analysis, Istomin's mother (née Asya Chavin) was almost certainly Jewish. This, however, is less likely to have been the case for his father, George Istomin.
10. See Lili Kraus: Hungarian Pianist, Texas Teacher, and Personality Extraordinaire, by Steven Henry Roberson (Texas A&M, 2000, p. 1).
11. See http://www.bachauer.com/archive-1.asp.
12. See http://www.jewishgen.org/Belarus/rje_v.htm.
13. See http://www.jewishgen.org/Belarus/rje_b.htm.
14. Jewish mother, non-Jewish father.


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JEWS IN MUSIC
JINFO HOME

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#421181 - 08/21/06 05:07 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Max W Offline
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I'd say it is more by coincedence due to the countries that they are born in, rather than the religion...

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#421182 - 08/21/06 05:35 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Silent Thoughts Offline
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It has to do with the culture in which we were brought up (and I believe it's a very different culture now, which is why there are far fewer well-known Jewish musicians, proportionally speakign). Back in the good ol' days, with quotas for how many Jews could attend a university and lots of anti-semetism all over, Jewish children were taught to study hard and work hard to pull themselves out of their generally deplorable situations.

Nowadays, lots of (American) Jewish kids (Americans are really all I can speak for) grow up in middle-class, safe environments. Parents probably don't push as hard, and the kids care much less to work hard and succeed.

That's all just my opinion, of course. You can make of it what you wish. \:\)

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#421183 - 08/21/06 05:37 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianojerome Offline
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Have a look at a list of gentile pianists. I'm sure you'll find that we're still a very small minority.

Although there are some very big names in that list you found... (look at the same website for a list of famous Jewish conductors, violinists, and songwriters/composers).
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#421184 - 08/21/06 05:41 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianoloverus Online   content
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Max W:
I'd say it is more by coincedence due to the countries that they are born in, rather than the religion... [/b]
But I can't imagine that the percentage of Jewish
people in countries in Europe/USA was/is anywhere nearly high enough to expect such an amazing result based only on country of birth.

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#421185 - 08/21/06 05:45 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
reonat Offline
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The real question is why do they all come from eastern europe countries ? What's so special about those people ? Is it the way they teach ? or is it just that those countries have the biggest musical heritage (classical music) in the world ?

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#421186 - 08/21/06 05:50 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianoloverus Online   content
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It would be interesting to compare the list I posted with the list that Philips used in their Great Pianists(around 100 CD)issue. I think around 40 of the pianists on my list made the cut for Great pianists of the 20th century(which had around 100 pianists I believe).

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#421187 - 08/21/06 06:04 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Contrapunctus Offline
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You forgot Daniel Pollack, Rosina Lhevinne's student. He's Jewish. Also, I think that RL was Dutch, not Jewish.
www.danielpollack.com
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#421188 - 08/21/06 06:06 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianojerome Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by reonat:
The real question is why do they all come from eastern europe countries ? What's so special about those people ? Is it the way they teach ? or is it just that those countries have the biggest musical heritage (classical music) in the world ? [/b]
Well, our 'classical' music is European 'classical' music. One wouldn't expect a ton of Asian, Australian, African, or American (North/South) musicians in our list of greats. During the 20th century, this changed a little bit, but the heritage for hundreds of years remained in Europe.


Other countries/cultures do have their own musical heritages; ours is not the only one. But in terms of our own heritage, it is from Europe.


And why so many Jews from Eastern Europe? That's where they all lived before the Holocaust. They used to all be in the Middle East thousands of years ago, and then when they were all finally exiled, they mostly settled to Eastern Europe.
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#421189 - 08/21/06 06:07 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianojerome Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Contrapunctus:
Also, I think that RL was Dutch, not Jewish.
[/b]
Are there no Dutch Jews? \:\)
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#421190 - 08/21/06 06:47 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Kreisler Offline



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Jewish culture has long placed a high degree of importance on culture. It's one of the reasons they were able to survive so long without a country of their own to live in.

And yes, they're probably from Europe because Europe invented classical music and the piano.

Noticing that European Jews play a lot of classical piano is a lot like noticing that a lot of Christians in Texas listen to country music. \:D
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#421191 - 08/21/06 06:49 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
reonat Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
Noticing that European Jews play a lot of classical piano is a lot like noticing that a lot of Christians in Texas listen to country music. \:D [/b]
hahaha when you put it like that, the answer is pretty obvious indeed \:D

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#421192 - 08/21/06 07:21 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianoloverus Online   content
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 Quote:
Originally posted by pianoloverus:
It would be interesting to compare the list I posted with the list that Philips used in their Great Pianists(around 100 CD)issue. I think around 40 of the pianists on my list made the cut for Great pianists of the 20th century(which had around 100 pianists I believe). [/b]
I looked at the list that was used for Phllips Great Pianists of the 20th Century. Although there were around 100 CDs only 70 pianists were represented since some had multiple CDs. Of the 70 pianists on the list 31 were Jewish according to the list I posted at the top of the thread.

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#421193 - 08/21/06 07:43 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
oldcars Offline
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An interesting tid bit regarding White Christmas. Arguably, one of the most recorded tunes in American history was written by Irving Berlin, a Jewish immigrant, whose father was a rabbi.
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#421194 - 08/21/06 07:49 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
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The problem with lists like that is that they are not an objective random sample of "the best." The concept of "the best" is itself not easily turned into a measurable concept. Clearly you can take a survey and use the results of the survey as data, but constructing a random sample of whatever population you're interested in surveying is not what these "great pianist" lists are all about.

I too suspect that jewish pianists (or musicians in general) would be overrepresented on any such objective list. I just haven't seen a list that I would identify as one based on a scientific sampling technique.
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#421195 - 08/22/06 02:00 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
gabytu Offline
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It is not only a cultural phenonenon, but a surprise to me. I was aware of the number of Jewish violinists, but not so much aware of the pianists. I once commented to a Jewish friend, that so many of the greatest violinists were Jewish. She responded that the reason there were so many Jewish violinists, is that when they had to flee from persecution, it was easier to carry a violin with them than it was to carry a piano. She will be surprised when I show her the list of Jewish pianists.Gaby Tu

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#421196 - 08/22/06 02:10 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
C.V. Alkan Offline
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Jews have historically excelled in intellectual and cultural persuits. There is a reason we have survived all these years of persectution. You'll also find that a disproportional number of Jews have attended top notch universities. We also tend to be very successful in business. Much of the anger Hitler roused was due to frustration at Jews controlling the economy. We are simply characterized as being hard working and, well, smart...
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#421197 - 08/22/06 09:03 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
oldcars Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by C.V. Alkan:
Jews have historically excelled in intellectual and cultural persuits. There is a reason we have survived all these years of persectution. You'll also find that a disproportional number of Jews have attended top notch universities. We also tend to be very successful in business. Much of the anger Hitler roused was due to frustration at Jews controlling the economy. We are simply characterized as being hard working and, well, smart... [/b]
The Nobel Prizes are awarded by the Nobel Foundation of Sweden to men and women who have rendered the greatest service to humankind. Between 1901 and 2005, more than 750 Nobel Prizes were handed out. Of these, at least 157 are Jews.

Joel
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#421198 - 08/22/06 09:18 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
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Those of you who think that Jews possess superior business skills, intellect, and talent, have obviously not met my in-laws.
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#421199 - 08/22/06 09:43 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
markb Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by MAK:
Those of you who think that Jews possess superior business skills, intellect, and talent, have obviously not met my in-laws. [/b]
Or me.
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#421200 - 08/22/06 01:18 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Jawzz Offline
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Wladyslaw Szpilman

You should see his movie, "The pianist"
Its about his life in the 2d world war, great piano pieces in it, it was the movie what made me play piano.

And by the way, who cares pianists are jewish or not? (im atheist)
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#421201 - 08/22/06 02:02 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Piano*Dad Offline
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Jawzz,

It is movies like The Pianist that remind us of what the world lost as a result of Europe's anti-semitism come to horrific fruition in Germany and Eastern Europe.

BTW, PW has had a number of threads on The Pianist in the past.

DF
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#421202 - 08/22/06 02:11 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Igor Stravinsky Offline
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What an interesting thread. I have been curious about this myself. I believe that in the following years we'll see much more Chinese pianists and then there will be a corresponding thread: "Why so many Chinese pianists?" Even as we are speaking, they are working on it.

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#421203 - 08/22/06 02:16 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Frank_W Offline
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Chinese, Jewish, Black, Caucasian... Why does it matter so much? (And of all the forms of bigotry and discrimination, anti-Semitism is the one that I find truly impossible to understand.) Weird...
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#421204 - 08/22/06 03:24 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
193866 Offline
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Hello... and ...I have a close Jewish friend, a piano teacher...His dad was one of the founders of the Portland Maine Symphony...A Russian Jewish Concert Master violinist...I asked him this question... He told me this "The Jewish people were not accepted in polite society for some years here in America...They learned that education and hard work was the answer to get ahead...The Jewish people were accepted in the American musical world.. Customs and heritage played a role too...Sandy B
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#421205 - 08/22/06 04:26 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
iconoclast Offline
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"There are three kinds of pianists: Jewish pianists, homosexual pianists, and bad pianists".
- Vladimir Horowitz

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#421206 - 08/22/06 05:09 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Frank_W Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by iconoclast:
"There are three kinds of pianists: Jewish pianists, homosexual pianists, and bad pianists".
- Vladimir Horowitz [/b]
Which just goes to show that maybe he should have talked less and just played the piano. :rolleyes:
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#421207 - 08/22/06 06:51 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianoloverus Online   content
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Frank_W:
 Quote:
Originally posted by iconoclast:
"There are three kinds of pianists: Jewish pianists, homosexual pianists, and bad pianists".
- Vladimir Horowitz [/b]
Which just goes to show that maybe he should have talked less and just played the piano. :rolleyes: [/b]
I think it's quite amusing and clever.

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#421208 - 08/22/06 07:03 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianojerome Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Jawzz:
Wladyslaw Szpilman

You should see his movie, "The pianist"
Its about his life in the 2d world war, great piano pieces in it, it was the movie what made me play piano.

And by the way, who cares pianists are jewish or not? (im atheist) [/b]
Read his book, too.


Also read "The Inextinguishable Symphony." I don't remember the name of the author, but it's a great book (true story) about Jewish musicians during the Holocaust.
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#421209 - 08/22/06 07:58 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Palindrome Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by MAK:
Those of you who think that Jews possess superior business skills, intellect, and talent, have obviously not met my in-laws. [/b]
(Ahem) And what do you suppose your in-laws think of you?

A very old, and very Jewish, joke:

Sam: So how's that new son-in-law of yours?

Harry: Not so good. He can't drink, and he can't play [i.e., play cards, not piano ;\) ].

Sam: And what's wrong with that? Lots of guys, they can't drink, and they can't play.

Harry: Yeah, but him - he can't drink, and he drinks, and he can't play, and he plays!
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#421210 - 08/22/06 10:21 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianojerome Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Palindrome:
 Quote:
Originally posted by MAK:
Those of you who think that Jews possess superior business skills, intellect, and talent, have obviously not met my in-laws. [/b]
(Ahem) And what do you suppose your in-laws think of you?

A very old, and very Jewish, joke:

Sam: So how's that new son-in-law of yours?

Harry: Not so good. He can't drink, and he can't play [i.e., play cards, not piano ;\) ].

Sam: And what's wrong with that? Lots of guys, they can't drink, and they can't play.

Harry: Yeah, but him - he can't drink, and he drinks, and he can't play, and he plays! [/b]
:D
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#421211 - 08/22/06 10:33 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
tomasino Offline
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Posted by PIANOJEROME:

"Are there no Dutch Jews?"

Good point, Sam. Spinoza, for example, was both Dutch and a Jew.

That ICONOCLAST, he beat me to it. I was going to say that Horowitz is reputed to have said that there are three kinds of pianists, Jews, homosexuals, and bad.

Tomasino
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#421212 - 08/22/06 10:41 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
BDB Offline
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How come you left off Willie "The Lion" Smith? One of my favorite piano pictures is him, with his cigar and bowler, playing duets on the White House Steinway along with Duke Ellington.
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#421213 - 08/22/06 10:49 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianojerome Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
How come you left off Willie "The Lion" Smith? [/b]


This guy?
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#421214 - 08/22/06 11:01 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
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#421215 - 08/22/06 11:05 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
tomasino Offline
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In my town it is vey clear why Jews succeed at music. All you have to do is go to the Jewish Community Center in St. Louis Park, and you will see that Jewish parents nurture their children. Part of the nurturing is to make very sure that children are given violin lessons and piano lessons starting at a very young age. And they encourage their children, and pay attention to their children's cultural education. What would anyone expect, other than that we'll get a good number of really good musicians out of St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

When it comes to music and culture, Jews succeed because they put in the necessary effort--one generation nurturing the next.

Tomasino
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#421216 - 08/23/06 12:28 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianistical Offline
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Silent Omen has a point I believe.

I also think it shows that Jews have had a tradition in the performing arts.

Many civilations have had their ups and downs and the 20th century belonged to the jews. Before that other civilizations made great contributions to mankind, which later many jews built on.

I also think that jews have a tradition of perfecting the material that already exists. After all they were part of the societies they lived in.

As Silent Omen pointed out young jews live a much more comfortable and integrated life today and I don´t expect them to excell in the same way as before. I can see the same tendency in Sweden among young jews.

By the way, I heard that an article in Nature was withdrawn because the authors came to the conclusion that it was impossible to genetically distinguish Jews from Arabs. Apparently some kind of American lobby found this thought repulsive and got the article excluded from the magazine.
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#421217 - 08/23/06 01:02 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
Silent Thoughts Offline
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That's rather interesting, as I've always believed that Jews and Arabs look very similar. I wouldn't find it suprising at all if their genetic makeups were similarly similar (...it's 1 am, you can't expect me to use synonyms at this hour, can you? :p ).

I'm quite interested in hearing that you see the same sort of trend in Sweden. I'd be very curious if others in other nations have seen similar trends. I feel quite sheltered myself, having spent the majority of my life in one or another pretty American suburb. Perhaps that's why my own work ethic is not quite anything to brag about. \:o

Any other thoughts?

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#421218 - 08/23/06 01:06 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianistical Offline
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Silent Omen,

I once worked as a substitute teacher at a jewish school. The students were not nearly as diligent as I had expected.

Or maybe I wasn´t cut out to be a teacher.
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#421219 - 08/23/06 09:12 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
markb Offline
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Registered: 10/29/04
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Loc: Maryland
 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
No, this guy! [/b]
That's very interesting. Of course, since his mother apparently wasn't Jewish, he wasn't either (unless he converted). Still, I'd love to have him as a cantor at my synagogue!
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#421220 - 08/23/06 09:13 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
Silent Thoughts Offline
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Well, Hebrew school is probably where (at least at my congregation) kids were at their utter worst. Parents didn't really care about kids' success in Hebrew school, as it has nothing to do with getting into college (which is all parents 'round these parts seem to care about), so that's probably the most pessimistic sampling of lazyness and obnoxiousnses you could find.

But anyway, that's a little off-topic, if only a little.

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#421221 - 08/23/06 09:14 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
markb Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by pianistical:
Silent Omen,

I once worked as a substitute teacher at a jewish school. The students were not nearly as diligent as I had expected.

Or maybe I wasn´t cut out to be a teacher. [/b]
When I was in college, I did a two-week volunteer program in Israel in a religious (Jewish) high school. Those kids were out of control. In Yiddish, we'd call them vilde chayas--wild beasts.
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#421222 - 08/23/06 10:28 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
Fleeting Visions Offline
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Blame it all on country music! Let's ban it. And then everyone will play piano. And then we will all be happy.
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#421223 - 08/23/06 10:41 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
Frank_W Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by dnephi:
Blame it all on country music! Let's ban it. And then everyone will play piano. And then we will all be happy. [/b]
HEAR HEAR!!!!
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#421224 - 08/23/06 11:49 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
bluemarine Offline
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Once Pogorelich was asked by a music critic, Jew himself:
- How did it happen that you become so famous and you are not a Jew?
- You discovered it to late - answered Pogo
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#421225 - 08/23/06 11:57 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
eromlignod Offline
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Some people and races, on average, have natural talents that others don't. Just as their physique and appearance are different, so are their minds. It's perfectly easy for me to understand and accept this. Black people dominate the 100 m dash and other sports. Jews excel at music and business. Men of northern European descent excel as inventors, etc. The paradigm that "all men are created equal" is an outdated notion that assumes that man inexplicably stopped evolving about 100,000 years ago when he spread out over the world from Africa. A more accurate axiom would be "no two men are ever equal".

I have a Jewish friend who plays piano. He barely reads music, but is phenomenal. He sits down and makes up music on his own and has a repertoire of over fifty songs...it has a ragtime sound and is quite complex and sounds fantastic. Neither of his parents are musicians. I was nurtured in a family of professional musicians, but I cannot do what he does. It is a natural talent.

Don
Kansas City

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#421226 - 08/23/06 12:31 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
BDB Offline
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It is far more likely that stereotyping pushes people of arbitrary groupings, such as religion, skin color, etc. into certain roles. It is likely that there is an equal percentage of Americans of (recent) African descent who are accomplished pianists, particularly if you choose those who have been exposed to the possibility of playing the piano, as there are American Jews. The fact that it is not recognized here reflects the fact that they still are not as accepted as "classical" musicians as those of other characteristics.
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#421227 - 08/23/06 01:52 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianojerome Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by BDB:
It is far more likely that stereotyping pushes people of arbitrary groupings, such as religion, skin color, etc. into certain roles. It is likely that there is an equal percentage of Americans of (recent) African descent who are accomplished pianists, particularly if you choose those who have been exposed to the possibility of playing the piano, as there are American Jews. The fact that it is not recognized here reflects the fact that they still are not as accepted as "classical" musicians as those of other characteristics. [/b]
I don't know about that. There are plenty of recognized musicians who are not Jewish - probably many more than there are who are Jewish.

It's a simple observation that many of them are Jewish; it's also an observation that a lot of the 'greats' happen to be Russian; it's also an observation that a lot of the 'great' composers happen to be German/Austrian.

But there are still plenty of recognized non-Jewish musicians; there are still plenty of recognized non-Russian musicians; and there are still plenty of recognized non-German-Austrian composers.
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#421228 - 08/23/06 01:55 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Frank_W Offline
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If I converted to Judaism, would I become a better pianist? *twinkle* (Sorry... I simply refuse to be gay, although I am generally quite a happy person...) So maybe I could become a "not so very bad" pianist? \:D
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#421229 - 08/23/06 01:58 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
markb Offline
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 Quote:
If I converted to Judaism, would I become a better pianist?
You can try, but I've been waiting for 39 years for that Jewish-piano-playing gene to kick in.
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#421230 - 08/23/06 02:00 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Frank_W Offline
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\:D ;\)
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#421231 - 08/23/06 02:10 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
signa Offline
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do we have to distinguish Jewish pianists from Christian pianists, or non-Christian/non-Jewish pianists, or Buddist pianists, Hindo pianists or something pianists? i just wonder what difference such categorizing would make?

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#421232 - 08/23/06 02:13 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianojerome Offline
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No difference. But from an antropological point of view, it's interesting to notice such statistics -- as many have suggested in this thread, it might tell us something about various cultures.
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#421233 - 08/23/06 02:22 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Fleeting Visions Offline
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Well, read a book on Eugenics for the true information for this stuff. I can't say it or I'd gt kicked for racism :p .
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#421234 - 08/24/06 01:48 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
C.V. Alkan Offline
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I don't necessarilly believe that the Jews' success is due to a natural physical characteristic.

My grandparents are Holocaust survivors. Because of this, my father grew up in an exceedingly disfunctional houshold. My grandmother was devoted to her children and loved them more than anything else in the world, but she was clinically insane. Auschwitz took its toll... I won't go into details, but it took strength and determination to survive. My dad was poor growing up. He took care of bills, taxes, etc. because my grandparents were not fluent enough in English to do it themselves. Despite his unusual upbringing, he managed to get a full scholarship to college and graduated from Harvard Buisness School - that took determination. I feel an obligation to succeed and to fight just as my grandparents and father did. Jews, I believe, have had this determination for thousands of years. It's not a biological trait. It's a tradition.
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#421235 - 08/24/06 09:13 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
Frank_W Offline
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Good post, Alkan.
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#421236 - 08/24/06 11:07 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
eromlignod Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by C.V. Alkan:
I don't necessarilly believe that the Jews' success is due to a natural physical characteristic.

My grandparents are Holocaust survivors. Because of this, my father grew up in an exceedingly disfunctional houshold. My grandmother was devoted to her children and loved them more than anything else in the world, but she was clinically insane. Auschwitz took its toll... I won't go into details, but it took strength and determination to survive. My dad was poor growing up. He took care of bills, taxes, etc. because my grandparents were not fluent enough in English to do it themselves. Despite his unusual upbringing, he managed to get a full scholarship to college and graduated from Harvard Buisness School - that took determination. I feel an obligation to succeed and to fight just as my grandparents and father did. Jews, I believe, have had this determination for thousands of years. It's not a biological trait. It's a tradition. [/b]
I can see your point and I agree that such extremes can definitely contribute to one's drive, determination and ultimate successes in life.

But Jews had already clearly demonstrated their flair for the performing arts long before the holocaust. Look at Hollywood. Prior to WWII the majority of studios were owned by Jews and the industry was largely staffed by Jewish actors, musicians and dancers (and still is)...and in a much larger percentage than the relatively small population of Jews in America. There are those who claim that this is due to favoritism in the industry, but I'm not buying it.

As pointed out in the original post, though Jews make up less than 3% of the population of America, they utterly dominate the highest musical positions, particularly in solo piano and violin. To write this phenomenon off as strictly due to ambitions encouraged by their family and culture is to not see the whole picture. It's like saying that black dominance in the 100 m dash is only because they practice more, which I think is nonsense and underrates the natural abilities of various ethnic groups. It's also an insult to those of us who are not Jewish and work our tail off trying to succeed in music to imply that we simply didn't try hard enough. At some point it is necessary to concede to sheer superior talent.

Don
Kansas City

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#421237 - 08/24/06 12:10 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
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I do agree with you to a point, but I do think nurture has more to do with Jewish success in the past than nature. I would wager than the majority of Jews in America around the turn of the century were immigrants, and as such, the first-generation American Jews of that era grew up in similarly difficult conditions as the Jews of Europe and Russia around the Holocaust era.

Many of the successful Jewish musicians from the past are exactly that - musicians of the past. If you look at successful musicians today, you'll find that a significantly smaller proportion of them are Jews. I am one of three Jewish pianists at my music school, out of roughly 40 or 50. The majority of them are Asian (and not only that, but Asian girls). Of the violinists, there may be one or two Jews, and of the cellists, there's one.

Of all the Jews at my old high school, only a small handful (perhaps 15 or 20 out of six or seven hundred) played any musical instrument at all.

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#421238 - 08/24/06 01:51 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
markb Offline
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In the past, Jews were relegated to what was considered to be dirty or lower-class tasks--such as money/banking and entertainment. We were forced into it, and we got good at it. I'm not convinced that Jews are naturally better at business or music. I'm no anthropologist, but my guess is that we're not physiologically/genetically a whole lot different from other Eastern European or Semitic groups.
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#421239 - 08/24/06 03:36 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Eternal Offline
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Some cultures are all about nurturing, and building, while others are all about death and destruction. How else do you explain the fact, that the Jews, who only constitute 0.2% of the world's population, make up 25% of the Nobel Prize winners (169). At the same time, 1 bilion members of another culture have a pathetic 7, the number which includes a murderer as well...

I'm not a Jew by the way (not that it matters), but I truly admire their people, and culture. I live in the U.S., and the Jewish neighborhoods, are known to be the best and safest neighborhoods to live in.

Nothing angers me more, than listening to anti-Semitic "useful idiots" in the U.S. and Europe, who are attacking Jews or Israel. The state of Israel is the last bastion of Democracy and Western Civilization in the Midle East, and it is surrounded by pure evil. I consider it my duty to support those brave people in their David vs. Goliath struggle.

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#421240 - 08/24/06 03:41 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Frank_W Offline
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Right on, Eternal. My feelings and thoughts EXACTLY!
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#421241 - 08/24/06 04:59 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
eromlignod Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Eternal:
Some cultures are all about nurturing, and building, while others are all about death and destruction. How else do you explain the fact, that the Jews, who only constitute 0.2% of the world's population, make up 25% of the Nobel Prize winners (169). At the same time, 1 bilion members of another culture have a pathetic 7, the number which includes a murderer as well...

I'm not a Jew by the way (not that it matters), but I truly admire their people, and culture. I live in the U.S., and the Jewish neighborhoods, are known to be the best and safest neighborhoods to live in.

Nothing angers me more, than listening to anti-Semitic "useful idiots" in the U.S. and Europe, who are attacking Jews or Israel. The state of Israel is the last bastion of Democracy and Western Civilization in the Midle East, and it is surrounded by pure evil. I consider it my duty to support those brave people in their David vs. Goliath struggle. [/b]
I have yet to read a single even remotely anti-Semitic post in this thread yet. I'm not sure what your point is. There has been nothing but praise for Jews here. The only mild debate is whether their accomplishments in the entertainment fields are due to culture or genetics, which your examples don't really answer.

You can name specific areas (intellectual or otherwise) where a given race or culture excels. You can likewise name other areas where that same culture does not, in comparison to others (Jews in most sports comes to mind). Whether each of these individual fields of endeavor has merit, is worthwhile, or makes money is another unrelated debate.

I have always thought that measuring intelligence as IQ is like evaluating a pianist by the strength of his grip on a "love tester" machine. Why is it so easy for us to accept the fact that people in different parts of the world have evolved differently from the neck down, in stature, features, adaptability to the elements, susceptibility/immunity to certain diseases, etc., but it is blasphemy to even insinuate that any evolution whatsoever has occurred from the neck up?

Don
Kansas City

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#421242 - 08/24/06 05:46 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
BDB Offline
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 Quote:
Why is it so easy for us to accept the fact that people in different parts of the world have evolved differently from the neck down, in stature, features, adaptability to the elements, susceptibility/immunity to certain diseases, etc., but it is blasphemy to even insinuate that any evolution whatsoever has occurred from the neck up?
Insert your favorite blond or baldness joke here!
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#421243 - 08/24/06 05:48 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
JerryG Offline
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Well, I thought I might as well add my voice here. I think we have a disproportionate number of great pianists is not genetics, although it is known that musical ability is inherited, but due to culture and motivation from parents.

As some have said here, we were excluded from many professions and therefore we tended to gravitate towards those that would accept us.

Additionally I believe that there had been, and maybe still is, a desire for parents to push their children toward an occupation where they can work for themselves. Hence the disproportionate number of Jewish doctors, lawyers and accountants.

I am also pleased to see that no one here has hinted at any degree of antisemitism. It is good to see that people can offer intelligent comments, particularly from those here that a not Jewish. Maybe there is hope for this world.
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#421244 - 08/24/06 09:53 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Eternal Offline
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 Quote:
I have yet to read a single even remotely anti-Semitic post in this thread yet.
And I certainly wouldn't expect any, on a Piano forum. They say simple minds have simple amusements - so I'm sure the opposite must be true as well. I was talking in general, as from frequenting some other (not piano related) forums, I see the kind of posts that make me wonder, how could one get so brainwashed, as not to be able to recognize Good from Evil.

 Quote:
There has been nothing but praise for Jews here. The only mild debate is whether their accomplishments in the entertainment fields are due to culture or genetics, which your examples don't really answer.
This particular question often boils down to what was first - chicken or the egg.
1) It could be just culture.
2) It could be just genetics.
3) It could be a combination of both.

I don't think it's genetics - by the virtue of a simple thought experiment. If you took a baby from a different culture, and raised it in a Jewish family, instilling Jewish values, which emphasize education (as has been the case for thousands of years), then I've no doubt the lad would grow up to be a fine cultured man, who'd be more likely to become a doctor/lawyer/musician, than burn down cars or embassies. If you raise your kids teaching them nothing but hate, then you end up raising an army of suicide bent fanatics. A quote by a former Israel prime minister sums this up perfectly: "We will have peace with Arabs, when they love their kids more than they hate us...".

Besides, I do remember reading somewhere about the fact that Jewish and Arab DNA is pretty much identical, which should pretty much dispell that myth. Of course it says nothing about differencess accross other races, when it comes to standardized test scores for example.

I do think it has a lot to do with culture. Education is highly important in Jewish tradition, and if you look at Asian families in the US you'll see the exact same thing. The smartest kids in the class are usually of Asian descent. Black kids on the other hand, are usually at the lower end of the spectrum, unless of course we're talking sports.

I guess, there could also be a slight genetic component to it as well. If a particular culture favors educated men, then those men will be more attractive to a potential mate, and have a higher probability of reproducing. Social Darwinism at work.

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#421245 - 08/25/06 01:15 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
canaday Offline
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 Quote:
Why is it so easy for us to accept the fact that people in different parts of the world have evolved differently from the neck down, in stature, features, adaptability to the elements, susceptibility/immunity to certain diseases, etc., but it is blasphemy to even insinuate that any evolution whatsoever has occurred from the neck up?

[/QB]
What is the benefit of identifying racial/ethnic/cultural characteristics?

I can't think of one, honestly.

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#421246 - 08/25/06 08:59 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianojerome Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by canaday:
 Quote:
Why is it so easy for us to accept the fact that people in different parts of the world have evolved differently from the neck down, in stature, features, adaptability to the elements, susceptibility/immunity to certain diseases, etc., but it is blasphemy to even insinuate that any evolution whatsoever has occurred from the neck up?

[/b]
What is the benefit of identifying racial/ethnic/cultural characteristics?

I can't think of one, honestly. [/QB]
What is the benefit of ignoring them?
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#421247 - 08/25/06 09:14 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
Eternal Offline
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 Quote:

What is the benefit of identifying racial/ethnic/cultural characteristics?
I can't think of one, honestly.
Here's a couple off the top of my head. Some races are more susceptible to certain diseases (I think that's the case with Blacks and diabetes, though I'm not sure). I'm sure if you were Black, you would want your doc to be aware of those risks. Or for example American Indians who due to their genetics can't handle alcohol well.

Pretending we're all the same is the first step to moral relativism, which is becoming more and more popular these days.

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#421248 - 08/25/06 09:56 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
canaday Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by pianojerome:
 Quote:
Originally posted by canaday:
 Quote:
Why is it so easy for us to accept the fact that people in different parts of the world have evolved differently from the neck down, in stature, features, adaptability to the elements, susceptibility/immunity to certain diseases, etc., but it is blasphemy to even insinuate that any evolution whatsoever has occurred from the neck up?

[/b]
What is the benefit of identifying racial/ethnic/cultural characteristics?

I can't think of one, honestly. [/b]
What is the benefit of ignoring them? [/QB]
Rugged individualism, yes?

These are stereotypes, some positive, some benign, but never relevant to what an individual can choose to do with his life.

On the flip side, these understandings can be very persuasive and destructive. This is how people rationalize bad acts against entire groups of people -- pick your favorite religious/ethnic conflict, and there you have it.

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#421249 - 08/25/06 10:10 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianojerome Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by canaday:
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianojerome:
 Quote:
Originally posted by canaday:
quote:
Why is it so easy for us to accept the fact that people in different parts of the world have evolved differently from the neck down, in stature, features, adaptability to the elements, susceptibility/immunity to certain diseases, etc., but it is blasphemy to even insinuate that any evolution whatsoever has occurred from the neck up?

[/b]
What is the benefit of identifying racial/ethnic/cultural characteristics?

I can't think of one, honestly. [/b]
What is the benefit of ignoring them? [/b]
Rugged individualism, yes?

These are stereotypes, some positive, some benign, but never relevant to what an individual can choose to do with his life.

On the flip side, these understandings can be very persuasive and destructive. This is how people rationalize bad acts against entire groups of people -- pick your favorite religious/ethnic conflict, and there you have it. [/QB]

Is it just a stereotype that African-Americans tend to have darker skin than European-Americans?

Is it just a stereotype that Europeans tend to have larger noses than Asians?

Is it just a stereotype that people in the American South tend to say Y'all a lot and that Canadians tend to say Eh? a lot?


Sure, you can say it's a stereotype because you are generalizing about a whole group of people, but that doesn't mean that the stereotype is not generally true, just because it is a stereotype.
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#421250 - 08/25/06 10:17 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
PoStTeNeBrAsLuX Offline
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Sam,

All[/b] generalisations are wrong[1].

-Michael B.
[1] including this one \:\)
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#421251 - 08/25/06 10:43 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
Eternal Offline
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 Quote:
These are stereotypes, some positive, some benign, but never relevant to what an individual can choose to do with his life.
Genetic predispositions are not stereotypes, they're facts...

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#421252 - 08/25/06 11:29 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
canaday Offline
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Peoples' skins, peoples' noses, genetics...

Sure, there are sometimes facts and truths here, but what is the benefit of using them in your thinking? Does my sense of my own God-given Finnish-American uprightness cause me to judge other people unfairly? Sometimes it does.

As pleasant as it is to reflect on these things, there's a price.

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#421253 - 08/25/06 11:44 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
signa Offline
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the only relevence is how well a pianist plays, and we don't care if he/she is jewish or polish or bandalidash or something... culture background just means something for kids growing up, but it doesn't gurantee anything after that.

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#421254 - 08/25/06 04:16 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Hank Drake Offline
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I can't help recalling what Itzhak Perlman said, when asked about the high number of Jewish violinists.

"The fingers, they're circumcised, you see. Which makes for good dexterity, especially in the pinky."
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#421255 - 08/25/06 04:28 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Frank_W Offline
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My god.. What WAS he playing the violin with???
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#421256 - 08/25/06 05:03 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
193866 Offline
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Frank_W ... Horowitz actually made this statement? tThe remark is crude and hopefully beneath old Horowitz...Maybe he needed more schooling in maturity, logic and wisdom...Sandy B.
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#421257 - 08/25/06 05:08 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Silent Thoughts Offline
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This Horowitz quite seems to be taken out of context frequently... perhaps the pianist was being facetious, yes? \:\)

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#421258 - 08/25/06 08:17 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Hank Drake Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Silent Omen:
This Horowitz quite seems to be taken out of context frequently... perhaps the pianist was being facetious, yes? \:\) [/b]
He was being facetious. Some people are too literal minded to detect a joke when they hear it.
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#421259 - 08/25/06 08:21 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
I'm Liszt's coffee pal. Offline
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Seriously.
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#421260 - 08/25/06 09:39 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Frank_W Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by 193866:
Frank_W ... Horowitz actually made this statement? tThe remark is crude and hopefully beneath old Horowitz...Maybe he needed more schooling in maturity, logic and wisdom...Sandy B. [/b]
Well, like other posters have said, I think it is a contextual thing, and I'm sure he was being very tongue-in-cheek. (Gosh, I sure hope he was, anyway!) LOL
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#421261 - 08/25/06 11:24 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
I'm Liszt's coffee pal. Offline
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I think Horowitz had a very dry sense of humor and was aware of who he was saying it to. And I'm positive he was being tongue-in-cheek.
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#421262 - 08/26/06 12:36 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
piqué Offline
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Registered: 06/15/01
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 Quote:
Originally posted by Hank Drake:
I can't help recalling what Itzhak Perlman said, when asked about the high number of Jewish violinists.

"The fingers, they're circumcised, you see. Which makes for good dexterity, especially in the pinky." [/b]
:rofl: omg, hank, i'm dyin' that is hilarious.

as for the horowitz comment, he was two out of the three! ;\)
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#421263 - 08/26/06 12:46 AM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianojerome Offline
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Registered: 01/01/05
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 Quote:
Originally posted by piqu�:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Hank Drake:
I can't help recalling what Itzhak Perlman said, when asked about the high number of Jewish violinists.

"The fingers, they're circumcised, you see. Which makes for good dexterity, especially in the pinky." [/b]
:rofl: omg, hank, i'm dyin' that is hilarious.

as for the horowitz comment, he was two out of the three! ;\) [/b]
Some might say he was three out of three!

(must be some sort of prize for that)
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#421264 - 08/26/06 07:55 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
C.V. Alkan Offline
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Loc: Denver, Colorado
 Quote:
Originally posted by eromlignod:
But Jews had already clearly demonstrated their flair for the performing arts long before the holocaust. Look at Hollywood. Prior to WWII the majority of studios were owned by Jews and the industry was largely staffed by Jewish actors, musicians and dancers (and still is).[/b]
I won't give a history lesson here, but the Holocaust wasn't the first time jews were persecuted. And it wasn't the first time they showed incredible resiliance in surviving and rebuilding. The Jewish studio owners came after the Spanish Inquisition, after the Maccabees, and after the Pharaoh of Egypt \:\) . But you make a good point about genetics.
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#421265 - 08/26/06 08:20 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Hank Drake Offline
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 Quote:
Originally posted by piqu麊
 Quote:
Originally posted by Hank Drake:
I can't help recalling what Itzhak Perlman said, when asked about the high number of Jewish violinists.

"The fingers, they're circumcised, you see. Which makes for good dexterity, especially in the pinky." [/b]
:rofl: omg, hank, i'm dyin' that is hilarious.

as for the horowitz comment, he was two out of the three! ;\) [/b]
Horowitz was raised in the Jewish tradition, but was in fact not religious. That's one of the reasons religion was not an issue in his marriage to Wanda Toscanini--who was a non-observant Catholic.
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#421266 - 08/26/06 08:28 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
193866 Offline
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Registered: 08/02/06
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Loc: Manassas,Va
Now my ideal Pearlman made such a crude statement too...More than I want to hear...I love humor...but... to me as a mature women this just crude...Maybe men's humor...signing off for now...Sandy B.
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#421267 - 08/26/06 08:46 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
193866 Offline
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Hello ...An adoring fan here of Itzak Perlman...The spelling I hope is correct...He deserves correct spelling... We just saw Mr.Perlman at Wolf Trap this summer...the place was so packed...He was mostly conducting... We saw him at least three other times live at Wolf Trap through the years... ...only playing violin... Has anyone else heard him perform live? If not, he is probably close to retirement, at appx. 60 years old, and, if you can... please do not miss the opportunity...Sandy B
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#421268 - 08/26/06 11:32 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
piqué Offline
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
 Quote:
Originally posted by Hank Drake:
[QUOTE]Horowitz was raised in the Jewish tradition, but was in fact not religious. That's one of the reasons religion was not an issue in his marriage to Wanda Toscanini--who was a non-observant Catholic. [/b]
he was an ethnic jew. religion has nothing to do with it.
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#421269 - 08/26/06 11:33 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
piqué Offline
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
 Quote:
Originally posted by 193866:
Now my ideal Pearlman made such a crude statement too...More than I want to hear...I love humor...but... to me as a mature women this just crude...Maybe men's humor...signing off for now...Sandy B. [/b]
i'm not a man, and i think what he said is hilarious.
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#421270 - 08/27/06 04:51 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
Palindrome Offline
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Registered: 12/22/01
Posts: 3910
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
Alright, people, it's like this:

On an individual level, that is, considered person by person, the question, "Why are there so many Jewish pianists," is really a nonsensical question. Answering it with more nonsense, as Perlman and Horowitz did, is just another way of saying, "Go away with this ridiculous question!"

That's my take, anyway.

And I accept all your thanks for not having posted any circumcision jokes.
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#421271 - 08/27/06 05:04 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
piqué Offline
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Registered: 06/15/01
Posts: 5483
i see it the same way, pal. "ask me a stupid question and i'll give you a stupid answer."
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#421272 - 08/27/06 06:24 PM Re: Jewish Pianists
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19097
Loc: New York City
 Quote:
Originally posted by Palindrome:


On an individual level, that is, considered person by person, the question, "Why are there so many Jewish pianists," is really a nonsensical question. Answering it with more nonsense, as Perlman and Horowitz did, is just another way of saying, "Go away with this ridiculous question!"
[/b]
I don't think the Horowitz reply was in response to "Why are there so many Jewish pianists?"

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