Jascha Heifetz seemed to have sprung to life fully formed—a male-child Minerva with a fiddle. From the start, his was gripping, original, and fully mature musicianship: He played with astonishing technical accuracy, an infallible sense of structure, and searing intensity. He was essentially the same violinist in 1972, when he played his last recital in Los Angeles, as he was when he made his US debut at Carnegie Hall on October 27, 1917, as a newly arrived teenager from revolutionary Russia.
Listening to Heifetz’s first recordings, made for Victor immediately after his Carnegie Hall debut, we find some sentiment in abundance, but little sentimentality—an important distinction. Itzhak Perlman has called him “the greatest violinist that ever lived,” and he may well have been. Certainly, he has had a profound effect on the violinists who have followed him: Technical sloppiness would never again be tolerated.
“I feel strongly that every child—not just the musically gifted—should receive some musical instruction. With rare exceptions, children have an instinct for music, are to a certain extent musical, and should be musically developed. For the child’s own future enjoyment and his own satisfaction, he should learn to play an instrument. These days, when we are trying to make things easier for our children, we may be too timid about the process of their learning an instrument. Children should be forced to learn an instrument, gently but firmly.”
From the Archives
Jascha Heifetz at Carnegie Hall
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