Early Years in Russia
Publication Year: 2013
Notoriously reticent about his early years, violinist Jascha Heifetz famously reduced the story of his childhood to "Born in Russia. First lessons at 3. Debut in Russia at 7. Debut in Carnegie Hall at 17. That's all there is to say." Tracing his little-known upbringing, Jascha Heifetz: Early Years in Russia uncovers the events and experiences that shaped one of the modern era's most unique talents and enigmatic personalities. Using previously unstudied archival materials and interviews with family and friends, this biography explores Heifetz's meteoric rise in the Russian music world—from his first violin lessons with his father, to his studies at the St. Petersburg Conservatory with the well-known pedagogue Leopold Auer, to his tours throughout Russia and Europe. Spotlighting Auer’s close-knit circle of musicians, Galina Kopytova underscores the lives of artists in Russia’s "Silver Age"—an explosion of artistic activity amid the rapid social and political changes of the early 20th century.
Published by: Indiana University Press
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Heifetz (1901–1987) did not arise overnight, and the story behind the book is notable in and of itself. In the middle of the 1980s, I was conducting research in the personal archive of the violinist and music critic Viktor Grigoryevich Valter (Walter) (1865–1935) in the Russian Institute for the History of the Arts. The documents and materials were fascinating, but ...
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...tioned about his childhood, and he made no attempt to write an autobiog-raphy. It is not surprising, therefore, that Heifetz’s earliest years have long been considered something of an uncharted and mysterious period in the life of the great violinist. With this edition of Galina Kopytova’s biographi-cal narrative about Heifetz’s childhood, an important chapter in music ...
List of Abbreviations
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1 Early Roots of the Heifetz Family
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...people across five generations and family members who now reside in the United States, Australia, Israel, Latvia, and Russia. The oldest Heifetz name preserved in family memory is that of Ilya (or Elye), Jascha’s paternal grandfather, who was born around 1830. Two photographs of Ilya survive in the personal records of his descendants; one is an individual portrait, and ...
2 1901–1906: Vilnius
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...the city of Vilnius (Vilna)—once the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithu-ania—was annexed by the Russian Empire. By the end of the nineteenth century, Vilnius was a large provincial capital in the Russian Empire and played an active role in Russian life as a center for trade, industry, and cul-ture. By the early twentieth century, remnants of the city’s history included ...
3 1906–1909: Music School
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...(R MO), music schools opened throughout major cities in Russia during the second half of the nineteenth century, providing the primary source of professional musical training. The R MO was founded in 1859 following the efforts of the pianist and composer Anton Rubinstein; patronage from the Tsar’s family in 1869 led to its elevation as the Imperial Russian Music ...
4 1910: St. Petersburg Conservatory and Nalbandian
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St. Petersburg, then the capital, and one in Moscow. The St. Petersburg Conservatory was founded in 1862 by Anton Rubinstein and was the first and oldest Russian center of academic musical education. Notable grad-uates included Tchaikovsky, Lyadov, Fyodor Stravinsky (the composer Igor’s father), Ivan Yershov, Vasily Safonov, and Anna Yesipova. A number ...
5 First Performances in St. Petersburg
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...out which conservatory students were unable to leave the capital, Ruvin and Jascha must have remained in St. Petersburg for the rest of December and into 1911. The cost of a return trip to Vilnius was likely prohibitive; thus, for the first time, Jascha spent the New Year’s holiday far from his family and friends, but they did not forget about him. Marusya Malkina wrote, ...
6 Summer 1911: Concerts in Pavlovsk and Odessa
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...dacha in Antakalnis, one of the twenty-six suburbs of Vilnius and a popu-lar area during the summer. A local guidebook from the period described it as follows: “Heading along the bank of the Viliya to the Church of St. Peter and Paul, one can stop in the suburb of Antokol which stretches along the Viliya for almost three versts. Scattered hills to the right of the ...
7 Fall 1911: In the Class of Professor Auer
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...was already sixty-six years old when Jascha entered his class in 1911. His father was a painter from the small Hungarian town of Veszprém near Lake Balaton. In his 1923 biography, My Long Life in Music, published in New York, Auer wrote about his journey from difficult beginnings in the back-waters of the Austrian Empire to a successful musical career in the upper ...
8 The Beginning of 1912
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Jascha’s violin lessons. In January, Auer left St. Petersburg to visit Kiev and Odessa to assist in the conversion of the two Imperial Russian Music Soci-ety schools into conservatories. Journalists in Odessa interviewed Auer a number of times, questioning him about the music schools, and also asking incessantly about his student Jascha Heifetz, whose past summer concerts ...
9 1912: First Trip to Germany
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...one of the most important cities in the world, politically, industrially, and in terms of its standard of living. The city underwent significant develop-ment after it became the capital of the German Empire in 1871, and fur-ther growth continued from 1888 with the ascension of Wilhelm II to the throne. As industry increased, the city grew, and by the start of the 1910s, ...
10 1912: A German Tour
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...family moved from their apartment on Voznesensky Prospekt to building 8–10 Bolshaya Masterskaya Street, a tall corner building facing Torgovaya Street. This was a familiar place for Jascha since it was just across the street from where he had lived with his father two years earlier. The building was new, and some final work on the inside continued for almost a year after ...
11 The Beginning of 1913
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...dents of St. Petersburg ushered in the New Year, starting on January 7 with a performance by the violinist Jan Kubelík at the Hall of the Assembly of the Nobility. Despite the audience’s enthusiastic response, the critics re-acted with restraint to Kubelík’s playing, noting a lack of inspiration only partially masked by his confidence and impressive technique. For Jascha, ...
12 Summer–Fall 1913: Loschwitz
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...pold Auer in Germany, for what was the first in a series of summer vacations spent with his professor. For many years, Auer had spent his summers in England, but in 1912 he began to vacation in Loschwitz, a charming sub-urb of Dresden. Auer wrote warmly of these vacations: “Loschwitz was a delightful village flanked by a green hill on the bank of the Elbe. On one ...
13 Winter 1913–1914: Bar Mitzvah
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...burg Conservatory, he returned often to Vilnius to visit, but two years had passed since he last performed in his hometown. The previous appearance was in December 1911 at a charity concert, during which he performed only Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen. The music-loving residents of Vilnius were in luck when toward the end of November 1913, local newspapers published ...
14 Spring 1914
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...during the second half of February (OS). After a short time at home, Jascha traveled to Moscow, where on March 1 he appeared with Isidor Achron at a benefit concert for the Society for the Spread of Enlightenment among Jews in Russia, a charity for which Jascha had performed almost exactly a year earlier. Both performances for this charity were organized by David ...
15 Summer–Fall 1914: War
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...gan early that year and students flocked there from all over Russia. The Heifetzes arrived in May and sent a postcard to Kiselgof. On Sunday, June I received your letter and was very, very glad. But I’m still in stuffy and dusty Piter and I’m not getting out of here until Wednesday. How horrible! But I’m glad for you, my friends, that you are already there, in a cultured, clean ...
16 January–September 1915
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...conflict: Germany had intended to finish the war by autumn, and Russia had planned to fight only on foreign territory and was now dealing with a front line moving toward its own borders. In the words of Rech, a popular newspaper in Russian intellectual circles, “to say whether or not the war ends in the coming year, of course, is impossible. Nevertheless, however ...
17 The End of 1915
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...for three years: in 1912 he toured Germany; in 1913, after a summer in Los-chwitz, he played concerts in Berlin, Dresden, and Warsaw; and in 1914 the Heifetzes were detained in Germany until December. With its changeable weather and abundance of rainy days, September was nevertheless mild in the city. The beautiful yellow color of falling leaves resembled the gilded ...
18 The First Half of 1916
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...conservatory exam period. On January 20—Jascha’s fifteenth birthday—he successfully passed the mandatory viola class, and he received a 5 for both his written work and oral exam in the first level of required harmony.1The commission for the harmony exam included the experienced theorist Vasily Kalafati and two younger pedagogues, Semyon Bogatyrev and Alek-...
19 The Second Half of 1916: Norway and Denmark
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...in Norway with Auer’s violin colony was finalized in April when Ruvin received the necessary departure documents.1 In Auer’s book My Long Life in Music, he described his time in the suburbs of Christiania (now Oslo), Beginning with the summer of 1915 I spent my vacations, until 1917, entirely in Norway, amid the gorgeous scenic surroundings of Christiania. One of ...
20 The First Half of 1917: February Revolution
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...and social unrest would develop during 1917. Military successes during the previous year had created a sense of optimism; the hardships of the first two years of the war were not felt as sharply in the expanses of the Russian Empire as they were in other warring European countries. The autumn 1916 draft of thirteen million farmers, factory workers, and transportation work-...
21 Summer 1917: Departure for America
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...found the capital in a political fever: “Revolution or anarchy?” asked the front page of Izvestia on May 21. The Kronstadt Council of Workers and Soldiers’ Deputies had refused to recognize the Provisional Government. The First Congress of the Councils (Soviets) assembled on June 3, at which time the Bolshevik faction of the R SD.aR P (Russian Social-Democratic La-...
Appendix 1: Reviews of Jascha Heifetz’s Debut at Carnegie Hall, October 27, 1917
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Appendix 2: Jascha Heifetz’s Repertoire in Russia
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...———. “When Heifetz, Aged 11, Stormed Musical Berlin.” Musical Courier. May 15, Agranovskii (Agranovsky), Genrikh. “Korol’ skripachei iz starogo Vil’niusa [King of ———. “The Childhood Years of the King of Violinists.” Jerusalem of Lithuania, Janu-———. “Udivitel’naia istoriia memorial’noi doski [Remarkable History of a Memorial Plaque],” Litovskii Ierusalim [Lithuanian Jerusalem] (Vil’nius) no. 1–2. 2001....
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Page Count: 504
Illustrations: 77 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Russian Music Studies