About Jascha Heifetz
Jascha Heifetz, widely regarded as one of the greatest performing artists of all time, was born in Vilnius, Lithuania, which was then occupied by Russia, on February 2, 1901. He made his formal public debut at the age of eight in the nearby city of Kaunas (then known as Kovno).
With only brief sabbaticals, he performed in public for the next 65 years, establishing an unparalleled standard to which violinists around the world still aspire.
The War Years
In a U.S. Army hospital in Italy, a violinist dressed in military uniform entered a ward to play for GI’s wounded in the ongoing battles of World War II. A boy who had lost his right arm tried to applaud in the air with his left hand. The violinist was momentarily shocked.
He gazed at the smiling boy clapping the air, and then – his face illuminated with compassion and sensitivity – raised his violin and played.
The triumphs of Jascha Heifetz are well known: first public performance in his hometown of Vilnius, Lithuania (then occupied by Russia) at the age of 5; Berlin Philharmonic debut at the age of 11; one of the most memorable debuts in the annals of Carnegie Hall at the age of 16; followed by tours, long before the ease of air travel, to the far reaches of the world: Japan, Australia, South America, India, the Middle East, and beyond—conquering audiences wherever he went. In all, he had a public career lasting some 65 years.
Throughout his career, Jascha Heifetz was known for many wise, amusing, and occasionally perplexing statements that were reported in the press, or shared with family members, audiences, and students.
Here are some of the most memorable ones.