Jascha Heifetz (February 2, 1901 -
December 10, 1987) was a violinist, one of the most famous of the
Heifetz was born in Vilna in Lithuania. His father was a violinist,
and Jascha began playing the instrument at an early age. He was
a child prodigy, playing the Violin Concerto by Mendelssohn in
public at the age of six. In 1910 he entered the St Petersburg
conservatory to study under Leopold Auer. He played in Germany
and Scandinavia at the age of twelve and visited much of Europe
while still in his teens.
His American debut came in 1917 when he played at Carnegie Hall.
He stayed in the country and became an American citizen in 1925,
making many public appearances and recordings. He had an immaculate
technique and rapid vibrato. From time to time, his near perfect
technique caused some critics to accuse him of being overly mechanical,
even cold. Yet most critics agree, he infused his playing with
feeling without compromising the composer's wishes.
Instead of soloing exclusively as most violinists of his stature
did, Heifetz often enjoyed playing chamber music. Some notable
collaborations include his 1940 recordings of trios by Beethoven,
Schubert, and Brahms with cellist Emmanuel Feuermann and pianist
Artur Rubinstein as well as a later collaboration with Rubinstein
and cellist Gregor Piatigorsky and recorded trios by Ravel, Tchaikovsky,
Heifetz commissioned a number of pieces, perhaps most notably
the Violin Concerto by William Walton.
In later years, he taught at the University of Southern California.
He died in Los Angeles.
Watch a video of Jascha Heifetz rehearsing the Brahms Concerto (Windows Media)
Quotes by Heifetz
"I occasionally play works by contemporary composers and for two reasons. First to discourage the composer from writing any more and secondly to remind myself how much I appreciate Beethoven."
"If I don't practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it."
"There is no top. There are always further heights to reach."
>> Interview with Jascha Heifetz on The Danger of Practicing Too Much