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236 During Jascha’s period of study at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, he returned often to Vilnius to visit, but two years had passed since he last performed in his hometown. The previous appearance wasinDecember1911atacharityconcert,duringwhichheperformedonly Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen. The music-loving residents of Vilnius were in luck when toward the end of November 1913, local newspapers published thefollowingannouncements:“VilniusSymphonyOrchestra.CityHall.4 December1913.SymphonyConcertwiththeparticipationofworld-famous violinist Jascha Heifetz. Conductor A. Wylezinski.”1 The Heifetzes arrived in Vilnius on December 3 and that same day Jascha participated in a rehearsal with the Vilnius Symphony Orchestra. For the first time, the young boy was to perform the Beethoven Concerto, one of the greatest and most challenging works in the violin repertoire. This concerto featured prominently in Heifetz’s career, and in his old age he remarked that “there is so much beautiful music. But the Mozart and Beethoven Concerti are special. They are the most difficult, too.”2 Coincidentally , just prior to Jascha’s arrival in Vilnius, his conservatory classmate Cecilia Hansen had also performed the Beethoven Concerto there. Winter 1913–1914: Bar Mitzvah CHAPTER THIRTEEN 237 Winter 1913–1914: Bar Mitzvah Cecilia-Antonia Hansen was born in Kamenskaya, into the Evangelical Lutheran faith, on February 4, 1897 (OS).3 Hansen’s parents, collegiate assessorGenrikhandhiswifeEmilia,livedat81YekaterininskyCanalwith their two musical daughters, Cecilia and Elfrida. Cecilia began studying piano at the age of three and soon after started the violin, entering Auer’s class in 1908 and preparing for a spring 1914 graduation.4 She performed in Vilnius on November 23, 24, and 26, 1913, at City Hall and in the City Club with the Symphony Orchestra conducted by Konstantin Vout. CeciliaplayedconcertosbyBeethoven ,Paganini,andGlazunovandperformed violin chamber music together with her sister, Elfrida, who was also a conservatory student. By all accounts the performances were successful. Jascha’s upcoming Vilnius concert was advertised widely on posters and in newspapers: “Tomorrow, December 4, the genius Jascha Heifetz performs in concert with the Vilnius Symphony Orchestra. Needless to say, for Vilnius this concert is a significant event. . . . Thirteen-year-old [sic] Jascha is like Sarasate at the zenith of his fame. Of contemporary violinists there is no one who could be compared with Heifetz.”5 City Hall was filled to capacity on the day of the concert, and newspapers reported that many in the audience were attending their first concert and were unfamiliar with concert etiquette. As a result, the general noise from the audience swallowed up the finer nuances of the pieces accompanied by piano in the secondhalfoftheconcert .Nevertheless,aftereachpiece,theVilniusaudience applauded their native prodigy enthusiastically. At the end of the concert, Ivan Schumann, director of the Botanical Gardens, stepped onstage to give remarks. According to the Stranitsy proshlogo, “Despite his German surname—and such a musically famed one!—Schumann was a pureblooded Russian (his real surname was Shumanenko), sociable, cheerful, withroguishcunning,withprovenorganizationalcapabilitiesandastrong grasp of business matters.”6 After a short but passionate speech praising Jascha, Schumann crowned the boy with an enormous laurel wreath with an inscribed banner: “To the highly talented Jascha from Ivan Antonovich Schumann. Vilna. 4. XII 1913”; Heifetz kept the banner throughout his life. After Jascha received the wreath, Ilya Malkin, his former violin instructor also received a large bouquet of flowers. 238 Jascha Heifetz The Vilnius newspapers praised Jascha for his “enormous success” and noted that “despite the extremely high prices, the hall was overflowing.”7 The Vechernyaya gazeta wrote that “Thirteen-year-old J. Heifetz is already a first-rate star and a star shining with all the colors of the rainbow. . . . His musical development is proceeding wonderfully harmoniously.”8 A reviewer in the Vilensky kurier compared Jascha with Willy Ferrero: “Willy is made up wholly of raw elements . . . [on the other hand] Jascha Heifetz is far from a primary element and more like a real personality. That which he does is remarkable, but there is no mystery in it. This boy with the singing soul . . . is a special gift of nature . . .”9 One exception to the adulation was a review published in the Vilensky vestnik on December 6 (signed only as “M”): Sensational advertising passing all boundaries preceded the concert on December 4 of the unremarkable wunderkind Jascha Heifetz. Of course, aware that advertising often makes mountains out of molehills, we attended the concert expecting to find in Heifetz the most complete lack of giftedness. Of course, one cannot accuse Heifetz of ungiftedness—he certainly has ability, but to announce, as advertisers in the papers have shrieked, that...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780253010896
Related ISBN
9780253010766
MARC Record
OCLC
859536745
Pages
504
Launched on MUSE
2013-10-21
Language
English
Open Access
No
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