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Jascha Heifetz

Composers

Biography

Born: February 2, 1901   Died: December 10, 1987  
Jascha Heifetz was the leading figure among the extraordinary group of Russian Jews who dominated violin playing in the second and third quarters of the twentieth century. As a technician he had no superior, and, of all the artists of his time and later, only two or three could even offer a challenge to his electrifying precision of execution. His diamond-point tone and quick vibrato afforded his playing a clarity of line that some felt was Read more almost too perfect, even cold. Most conductors and other violinists -- and audiences -- felt differently and a Heifetz concert inevitably drew sell-out crowds.

Heifetz was born in Vilna, where his father Ruvim was a violinist in the city theatre. When he was three, his father bought for him a quarter-size instrument and gave him beginning instruction. By the age of five, Heifetz had advanced enough to enter the Vilna Conservatory where he began instruction under Elias Malkin. Only a year later, Heifetz made his first public appearance performing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. The six-year-old was so successful that offers for other appearances came from numerous other venues in Russia and he was hailed as a real prodigy.

When Leopold Auer, then a famous professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, came to Vilna in 1909, he was persuaded by Malkin to listen to Heifetz. After hearing him in Mendelssohn and Paganini, Auer embraced him and predicted for him a splendid future, urging him to come to St. Petersburg and become his pupil.

Ruvim Heifetz resigned his position, sold the family belongings, and took his son to St. Petersburg, but Auer initially failed to recognize the boy and refused him admittance to his home. By the time Auer realized his error, the Conservatory entrance deadline had passed and Jascha had to enroll in the class of an assistant. Six months later, however, Heifetz was able enter Auer's class, and thereafter his progress was astounding.

During an appearance at the International Exposition in Odessa, the reception accorded Heifetz was so explosive a police escort was needed afterward. Concerts throughout Europe followed immediately and, at an appearance with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1914, conductor Artur Nikisch declared that he had never heard violin playing such as his.

Heifetz' American debut took place at Carnegie Hall in 1917, eliciting such observations as "only the molten gold of Fritz Kreisler can be conjured up in comparison" (Herbert F. Peyser) and "He is a modern miracle" (Pitts Sanborn). The ensuing year brought triumph after triumph, with critics vying with each other to offer the most extravagant superlatives. A period of transition a few years later brought some critical reservations as Heifetz sought to move away from the overt emotionalism of his Russian training and become a more objective player. By the mid-1920s, however, a balance had been struck and once again accolades flew as critics and audiences noted a new, more mature approach to his music.

Heifetz became an American citizen, settled in California, and enjoyed the benefit of a long-term recording contract with RCA, amassing a sizeable discography over the years. Throughout his career, Heifetz favored gut strings, perhaps to temper the fine-edged aggressiveness of his attack and the enormous strength of his bowing arm. Early recordings of concertos, made mostly overseas, were gradually redone -- though not supplanted -- with American orchestras and in improved sound. Nonetheless, many of the earlier releases, despite their having been done in short takes required by 78 discs, still compel attention for their unsurpassed mastery. Read less
The Heifetz-Piatigorsky Concerts Album Collection
Release Date: 05/07/2013   Label: Rca  
Catalog: 545145   Number of Discs: 21
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Browse 1-25 of 126 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    111 Classics for Christmas
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002179902 Release Date: 12/09/2014   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Leroy Anderson,  Leopold Mozart,  Johnny Marks,  John Frederic Coots  ... 
    Performer:  Helen Donath,  Anna Reynolds,  Christa Ludwig,  Maria Teresa Garatti  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Fiedler,  Karl Richter,  Stephen Cleobury,  Sir David Willcocks  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Pops,  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir  ... 
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  • 2.
    RCA Living Stereo Collection Vol 2
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 300350 Release Date: 05/13/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Richard Strauss,  Sergei Rachmaninov,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky  ... 
    Performer:  Artur Rubinstein,  Byron Janis,  Gary Graffman,  Vladimir Horowitz  ... 
    Conductor:  Josef Krips,  Fritz Reiner,  Pierre Monteux,  Charles Munch  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Symphony of the Air,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $125.98
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  • 3.
    RCA Living Stereo Collection Vol 1
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 541497 Release Date: 04/15/2014   Number of Discs: 60
    Composer:  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Claude Debussy,  Jacques Ibert,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Berj Zamkochian,  John Weicher,  Philip Farkas,  Jascha Heifetz  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Fritz Reiner,  Kiril Kondrashin,  Arthur Fiedler  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New England Conservatory Chorus,  New England Conservatory Alumni Chorus  ... 
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  • 4.
    Jascha Heifetz Plays Great Violin Concertos
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 7761382 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Osian Ellis,  William Primrose,  Thornton Lofthouse  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Fritz Reiner,  Walter Hendl,  Sir Malcolm Sargent  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestra  ... 
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  • 5.
    Jascha Heifetz Plays Great Violin Sonatas
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 5440152 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Edvard Grieg,  Gabriel Fauré,  Johannes Brahms,  Ottorino Respighi  ... 
    Performer:  Brooks Smith,  Jascha Heifetz,  Emanuel Bay,  Lillian Steuber  ... 
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  • 6.
    William Kapell - Complete Recordings 1944-1953
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 5431362 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Frédéric Chopin,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Robert Schumann,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  William Kapell,  Jascha Heifetz,  William Primrose,  Edmund Kurtz
    Conductor:  William Steinberg,  Fritz Reiner,  Serge Koussevitzky,  Antal Doráti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Robin Hood Dell Orchestra of Philadelphia,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Dallas Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 7.
    Fritz Reiner - The Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 370198 Release Date: 10/15/2013   Number of Discs: 63
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Johannes Brahms,  Rolf Liebermann,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Artur Rubinstein,  Jascha Heifetz,  Emil Gilels,  Inge Borkh  ... 
    Conductor:  Fritz Reiner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Lyric Theatre Chorus,  Studio Orchestra
    Recommendation
    On sale! $199.98
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  • 8.
    The Heifetz-Piatigorsky Concerts Album Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 545145 Release Date: 05/07/2013   Number of Discs: 21
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Antonín Dvorák,  Maurice Ravel,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Gregor Piatigorsky,  Laurence Lesser,  Paul Rosenthal,  Israel Baker  ... 
    Conductor:  Alfred Wallenstein
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  Orchestra
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  • 9.
    The Very Best Of Jascha Heifetz
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 164862 Release Date: 02/05/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Henri Vieuxtemps,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Jean Sibelius,  César Franck  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Artur Rubinstein,  Arok Sandor,  Emanuel Bay
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent,  Sir John Barbirolli,  Sir Thomas Beecham
    CD: $17.99
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  • 10.
    Prokofiev: Symphony No. 6; Violin Concerto No. 2
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1396 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Sergei Prokofiev
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz
    Conductor:  Yevgeny Mravinsky,  Charles Munch
    CD: $9.99
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  • 11.
    Violin Encores / Jascha Heifetz
    Label: Regis   Catalog: 1296 Release Date: 01/29/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Erich Wolfgang Korngold,  Edouard Lalo,  George Gershwin,  Traditional  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Emanuel Bay,  Milton Kaye
    Conductor:  Alfred Wallenstein,  William Steinberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra,  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra
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    On sale! $18.98
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  • 12.
    Emanuel Feuermann Plays Strauss & Brahms
    Label: Opus Kura   Catalog: 2102 Release Date: 12/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Emanuel Feuermann,  Jascha Heifetz,  Alexander Hilsberg,  Samuel Lifschey
    Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
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  • 13.
    Heifetz In Performance
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 199846 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Claude Debussy,  Sergei Rachmaninov  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra
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  • 14.
    Jascha Heifetz Plays Beethoven: Concerto, Sonatas, Trios
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 1915552 Release Date: 08/07/2012   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Gregor Piatigorsky,  Jacob Lateiner,  Leonard Pennario  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  William Steinberg
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra
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  • 15.
    Arturo Toscanini - The Complete RCA Collection
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 791631 Release Date: 07/10/2012   Number of Discs: 85
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Eileen Farrell,  Nan Merriman,  Jan Peerce,  Norman Scott  ... 
    Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra,  Robert Shaw Chorale,  NBC Symphony Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $149.98
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  • 16.
    Charles Munch Conducts Romantic Masterworks
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 826732 Release Date: 06/12/2012   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Felix Mendelssohn,  Johannes Brahms,  Robert Schumann
    Performer:  Gary Graffman,  Artur Rubinstein,  Jascha Heifetz
    Conductor:  Charles Munch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra
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  • 17.
    Label: Zyx Records   Catalog: 10132 Release Date: 05/25/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Felix Mendelssohn
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Jascha Heifetz,  Rudolf Serkin,  Rita Streich  ... 
    Conductor:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Sir Thomas Beecham,  Alfred Scholz,  Eugene Ormandy  ... 
    CD: $12.99
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  • 18.
    The Claude Debussy Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 193179 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Gervase de Peyer,  Ann Murray,  Nathalie Stutzmann,  Leslie Caron  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Pierre Boulez,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 19.
    Jascha Heifetz Plays Bach & Vieuxtemps
    Label: Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog: 1919 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Henri Vieuxtemps,  Louis Gruenberg,  Johann Sebastian Bach
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz
    Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli,  Pierre Monteux,  Franz Waxman
    CD: $12.99
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  • 20.
    A Tribute To Fritz Kreisler
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001637702 Release Date: 01/17/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Fritz Kreisler,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Christoph W. Gluck,  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov  ... 
    Performer:  Ruggiero Ricci,  Brooks Smith,  Fritz Kreisler,  Haddon Squire  ... 
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  • 21.
    Label: Archipel   Catalog: 052 Release Date: 01/01/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Franz Schubert,  Felix Mendelssohn
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz
    Conductor:  Guido Cantelli
    CD: $9.99
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  • 22.
    Jascha Heifetz - God's Fiddler
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 4729 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Various
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz
    DVD: $23.99
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  • 23.
    The Heifetz Collection Vol 19 - 51 Miniatures 1944-1946
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 61750 Release Date: 06/10/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Frédéric Chopin,  Robert Schumann,  Alexander Krein  ... 
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Emanuel Bay,  Milton Kaye,  Bing Crosby
    Conductor:  Salvador Camarata,  Victor Young
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra
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  • 24.
    The Heifetz Collection Vol 28 - Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, Boccherini
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 61759 Release Date: 06/10/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Luigi Boccherini,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Milton Thomas,  Gregor Piatigorsky,  Paul Rosenthal  ... 
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 25.
    The Heifetz Collection Vol 10 - Chamber Music Collection II
    Label: Rca Victor Gold Seal   Catalog: 61741 Release Date: 05/26/2011   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Performer:  Jascha Heifetz,  Emanuel Bay,  William Primrose,  Gregor Piatigorsky
    Conductor:  Sir Malcolm Sargent
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
    On sale! $24.98
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