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Itzhak Perlman At 70 / NPR: Morning Edition

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Read Part Of the Transcript - On a long drive, Itzhak Perlman will sometimes listen to classical music on the radio and try to guess who's playing. "There is always a question mark," he says. "If it's good, boy, I hope it's me. If it's bad, I hope it's not me." Sometimes it's hard to be sure: Perlman has played so much, for so long, and says he's still learning, even at 70. This week, the great violinist will be honored by President Obama with the Medal of Freedom, a milestone in the life of a naturalized American citizen. Perlman grew up in the 1940s and '50s in Tel Aviv, then a burgeoning young city being built in the brand-new country of Israel.

"I would see them make cement blocks," Perlman tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. "They would mix the cement and so on, and they would put it in little things that would make it a block that they would use in the buildings. So I actually knew how buildings were being built from the beginning. That was very exciting. And another excuse not to practice."