Magazine article Strings

Childhood Lost

Magazine article Strings

Childhood Lost

Article excerpt

Childhood Lost New book recounts the tragic path of violinist Michael Rabin Michael Rabin: America's Virtuoso Violinist by Anthony Feinstein. Amadeus Press, www.amadeuspress.com, $29.95

THIS STORY OF A SUPREME TALENT ABUSED and misused is a scathing indictment of the making of a child prodigy. Michael Rabin's meteoric rise as a sensational violinist came at the cost of a childhood spent in unremitting practice, robbed of normal schooling and the companionship of peers. A grueling concert schedule brought him early fame, but allowed no time to establish human relationships, leaving him emotionally undeveloped and socially adrift.

Author Anthony Feinstein, a Toronto-based neuropsychiatrist and music lover, fell under Rabin's spell through his recordings. Helped by recollections of family and friends, especially Rabin's sister, Bertine-who provided a trove of documents, reviews, and interviews-he follows Rabin's career concert by concert, and describes his triumphs and tribulations with admiration and compassion. Along the way, he debunks the wunderkind myth: only the talent is miraculous, the rest is relentless hard work. He also disproves the rumor that Rabin committed suicide: the coroner and pathologist unequivocally ruled his death accidental, though Rabin abused prescription drugs for years.

Rabin's precipitous decline was triggered by exhaustion, loneliness, and the onset of a trauma unknown to child-performers: stage fright. This brought on various phobias and physical disorders, which he tried to combat with prescription medications, unaware of the danger of addiction and adverse interactions. His health was so severely affected that he collapsed onstage and had to be hospitalized. After recovering, he made valiant efforts to revive his career, but was hampered by his managers' indifference and his own lack of professional aggressiveness.

However, his violinistic mastery was unimpaired. …

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