I just discovered this incredible performance of Gluck’s “Melodie” by Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987), on of the world’s most legendary violinists. Heifetz was born in Lithuania and took up the violin when he was just three-years-old (his father was his first teacher). At five he started lessons with Ilya D. Malkin, a former pupil of Leopold Auer. Heifetz was a child prodigy, making his public debut at seven, in Kovno (now Kaunas, Lithuania) playing the Violin Concerto in E minor by Felix Mendelssohn. In 1910 he entered the Saint Petersburg Conservatory to study under Leopold Auer himself.
Heifetz and his family left Russia in 1917, traveling by rail to the Russian far east and thence by ship to the United States, arriving in San Francisco. On October 27, 1917, Heifetz played for the first time in the United States, at Carnegie Hall in New York, and became an immediate sensation. In the audience, fellow violinist Mischa Elman asked, “Do you think it’s hot in here?”, whereupon Leopold Godowsky, in the next seat, imperturbably replied, “Not for pianists.” The reviews by the New York critics were rapturous.
In 1917, Heifetz was elected as an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the national fraternity for men in music, by the fraternity’s Alpha chapter at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. As he was aged 16 at the time, he was perhaps the youngest person ever elected to membership in the organization. Heifetz remained in the country and became an American citizen in 1925. When he told admirer Groucho Marx he had been earning his living as a musician since the age of seven, Groucho answered, “And I suppose before that you were just a bum.” To learn more about Heifetz’s life, including analysis of his technique and timbre be sure to visit Wikipedia.
Source: Moon River
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