Arago: Jascha Heifetz

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Jascha Heifetz

Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987) first held a violin at age 3, guided by his violinist and concertmaster father. His formal training began two years later at the Royal Music Academy in Vilna, Russia (now Lithuania), the city of his birth. He completed that course of study in four years, and then entered the tutelage of Leopold Auer in St. Petersburg. During his years as a student in Vilna, he had performed the Mendelssohn Concerto in concert, and by the time he was ten, he had performed with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic. By age twelve, his name and his style were revered throughout Europe.

The brooding storm that erupted into the Russian Revolution forced the Heifetz family to rethink its future. At Leopold Auer’s urging, the family immigrated to New York City. Jascha Heifetz immediately resumed his career at Carnegie Hall with a performance that secured his position as the finest violinist of the twentieth century. He spent his entire life performing in the United States and internationally and, later in life, teaching. For relaxation, Heifetz enjoyed tennis, photography, collecting rare first edition books, and collecting stamps, a hobby he shared with Theodore Steinway. The two collected topically, always seeking stamps depicting music.

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