Joe’s Violin

We are now in the midst of “awards season”, and for those of us who didn’t get to the movies at all last year, we have no preference to root for “La La Land” or “Manchester by the Sea” or any of the nominated feature films or actors’ performances. But I will have something to root for during the Academy Awards broadcast on February 26th; a nominated film in the Best Documentary Short Subject category. “Joe’s Violin” is an extraordinary story of survival, hope, and music’s capacity to provide comfort during hardship. Directed by Kahane Cooperman, the film tells the story of Joe Feingold, a 91 year-old Holocaust survivor and how he came to form a bond with Brianna Perez, a 12 year-old schoolgirl from the South Bronx.

I am an avid listener of WQXR, New York’s classical music station. For the past couple of years they’ve been organizing an instrument drive, in which people donate used musical instruments to be distributed to music and arts programs at under-resourced schools in the area. Joe Feingold donated a violin to the program – a 70 year-old violin that he came across while living in a displaced persons camp in Germany. He acquired it by trading for a carton of cigarettes. Through the instrument drive, Joe’s violin ended up in the hands of Brianna Perez, who lives in one of the poorest congressional districts in America.

I don’t usually post lengthy videos on the blog, but I’ve made an exception in this case because the story, and the filmmakers’ deeply-felt telling of the story, is poignant and remarkable. If you have 24 minutes to spare, watch the movie in full here, for our Music Monday:

10 thoughts on “Joe’s Violin

  1. Bill says:

    It was good — thank you. It answered a question for me.

    Sometimes, when you’re an amateur artist, you’re putting together stuff for an exhibit — the stuff that you like best, the stuff that wants to be shared — and you say to yourself, “Why the hell would anyone want to see this stuff? Seriously. Anybody can want into a museum and see a Rembrandt. Hell, they can just go online and see Raphaels. So what’s the point?”

    So maybe this is a valid answer. Maybe the game is legitimately played at different levels — and maybe, so long as you’re playing the game with sincerity, as one human speaking to another, the sharing is appropriate. Joe’s violin isn’t a Stradivarius and neither Joe nor Brianna is Joshua Bell, but maybe that isn’t what’s truly necessary. Not all the time, anyway 🙂

    You understand?

    • artmodel says:


      Yes I definitely understand. I think all those “different levels” occupy their own places and they all work in their own right. Sincerity, as you said, seems to me the most meaningful and essential quality for art of any kind, even more than proficiency I’d say. Is Brianna’s violin playing able to move us? Of course. As does Joshua Bell’s. Each for different reasons. One is a young hopeful dreamer, the other a seasoned virtuoso. It’s all good in my book 🙂

      Thanks Bill for watching the video and for commenting!


  2. Well, that was was very timely. Brianna is the kind of youth that gives me hope for our future.

  3. Brian says:

    Claudia – just catching up after a long absence due in part to a rather challenging 2016. Thanks as always for keeping Museworthy interesting and informative. I greatly appreciate the diversity of topics and the creativity you bring to each post. I hope 2017 is another successful year for you and Museworthy. Warm regards. Brian

    • artmodel says:


      How wonderful to hear from you! I was wondering when you’d comment on my blog again. 2016 was challenging for a lot of us! I hope those challenges you experienced are firmly in the past and that 2017 brings only good things.
      Thank you so much for your generous words and warm wishes. You have always been – and will always be – a very special person to me. I hope you know that.


  4. Tom Relth says:

    Frankly, I have no idea what prompted me to open your museworthy blogtoday. I haven’t read your blog in quite a while, but was prompted to read today’s blog having to do with the left+right thing but when I opened it (read it) and then went to the blogsite, I was spirited to read the story and watch the video having to do with Joe’s violin. I am now a painter yet I am inspired by your message and have contacted local musician/artists who are senior like myself, and who might just want to create a local program like this. As you may already know, I’ve left Casablanca Morocco now three years ago and live in Vancouver, Washington just across the river from the river very the becoming famous Portland, Oregon. I think it’s time that we pick up the ball on this lovely idea and run with it. Thank you for relaying this wonderful story. I hope that we can… I pray that we can do half of what they did in New York. What an incredible story. – Tom

    • artmodel says:


      An incredible story indeed. I’m delighted that “Joe’s Violin” inspired you so much! Organizing such a program in your community would be terrific, I hope you can get that rolling. Keep me updated if you can.

      Thanks for reading and for posting your comments!


  5. Such a well done documentary! In a very small way, perhaps, I may get the same feeling in modeling as Joe did in passing along his violin. It is a simple thing for me to do that just might help an artist. But I usually have no real idea of how much I may have helped or if I will be anyone’s muse. Then, one artist will tell me that she loves drawing me, for the challenges that I present (I’m thin and present plenty of “bony landmarks”) and when she shows me her artwork, I can see that she is remarkably talented and has done an amazing rendering of me. What a great feeling!

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