Kogan and Heifetz?

July 11, 2007 at 06:46 AM · Which of the two great russian violinists, Kogan and Heifetz, do you prefer and why? (Should be a much more interesting discussion than the oistrakh/kogan one)

Replies (65)

July 11, 2007 at 08:42 AM · Is it a kind of match: Al Kogan vs Chris Benoit?

Hey Chris are you a wrestling-violinists match organizer?

July 11, 2007 at 11:46 AM · Here we go again!

Kogan idolized Heifetz and was greatly influenced by him. I think Heifetz was much more consistent in playing at his best throughout his career (although you could quibble with a performance here and there). Kogan, I think, was more inconsistent through his career; I've heard recordings of his that were disappointing, and others that were spectacular beyond compare. You may not always agree with a Heifetz interpretation or like it, but he never failed to give his best.

But to choose between them?

"Welcome to the Violin Heavyweight Division Finals. In this corner, holding the violin jammed half-way through his neck - Leonid Kogan, the Russian Flash. And in the opposing corner, wearing his pants with his belt line up to his chest - the one, the only, Jascha Heifetz, the Russian-American Flash. This fight will be the best 4 out of 5 concertos, with extra points for the cadenzas."

:) Sandy

July 11, 2007 at 12:35 PM · Sander you are great!


July 11, 2007 at 12:56 PM · Sander - if I recall correctly, Heifetz was a Litvak, not a Russian.

July 11, 2007 at 02:03 PM · I can't resist getting into this brawl because, for me, Heifetz represents the highest musical ideals, the most spiritual transcendence of the physical instrument, the noblest quest for deep and profound expression, and the direct communication to the listener's soul by his ability to make a human voice of his violin, whereas Kogan's playing is the polar opposite of this. Reliable and extroverted, but shallow and lacking in content, it exemplifies the worst of modern technical limitations: a severely limited range of articulation, color, and nuance; a concept of the violin that is modeled more after the xylophone than the human voice. Whoever lumps these two players together as having a common tradition, couldn't be more wrong. They are technically and musically as different from one another as any two violinists could be.

July 11, 2007 at 01:40 PM · I seem to remember that Kogan was scheduled to appear in the US during the 70`s to celebrate a Heifetz birthday, maybe 75th? But political problems between the US and USSR prevented the trip.

July 11, 2007 at 03:50 PM · Are there any Kogan examples on youtube?

July 11, 2007 at 04:49 PM · heifetz kogan rabin szeryng and Yulian Sitkovetsky stood out from the rest to me i collect and listen to all their recordings, i do not prefer one to another anymore

i will say heifetz seems to have the longest career and maintained a level of quality longer than any other player i know of except possibly ysaye

July 11, 2007 at 07:13 PM · Joel, just a brief aside--Heifetz was a Lithuanian (or Litvak.) He was only "Russian" because Russia invaded and took over the Baltic states, no?

July 11, 2007 at 07:53 PM · One of them bores me and the other makes my skin crawl:)

July 11, 2007 at 08:29 PM · Wrestling anything with clothes on is kind of pointless.

July 11, 2007 at 08:30 PM · Ouija board with headphones.

July 11, 2007 at 08:31 PM · Joel, just playing devils' advocate now, but isn't that just like saying Franz Liszt was an Austrian, simply because Austria owned Hungary in 1811?

Jim--hmm, speaking of Liszt, where can I get one of those aforementioned Ouija boards with headphones? ;-)

July 11, 2007 at 08:46 PM · Ehhh...OK. I see your point. (Liszt wasn't an Austrian though.) ;-)

July 11, 2007 at 09:47 PM · Joel - your comment about trying to determine what Oistrakh is reminds me of the statement made by someone who was arranging the original exchanges of musicians for concerts between the Soviet Union and the US during the 1950s if I recall correctly: "We send them our Jews from Odessa, and they send us their Jews from Odessa."

July 11, 2007 at 10:18 PM · People, i saw the whole match last night on pay per view. Kogan vs. Heifetz went to a double disqualification.

It was a close one, Heifetz had Kogan going at the opener with his speed but Kogan eventually wore Heifetz down with an extended bout of slow Bach movements; Heifetz had no idea of what to do with them. Kogan then hit Heifetz with his famous flying spiccato and then went to the top rope to finish him off with his patented crunchy double stop drop. As Kogan mounted the top turnbuckle, one of Heifetz's lawyers distracted Kogan with crinkly candy wrapper noises while the other jumped on the ring apron and pulverized Kogan with a Jascha subpoena. Right then, three KGB agents in cheap suits jumped in the ring and gave Mr.Heifetz's lawyers a serious beatdown. At which point Menuhin entered the melee and proceeded to tell the turnbuckle that it was the greatest violinist he had ever heard. Stern then grabbed the mic and called for a stop to all vibrato for ten years. At that point a disgruntled ref called for the bell.

What a knuckle-duster!

July 11, 2007 at 10:13 PM · Obviously both are among the best ever. We are definitely splitting hairs here...:) I personally love the old - style vignette pieces - Debussy Girl with the Flaxen Hair, Ponce Estrellita, Chopin Nocturne trans. etc. This genre really lets the violinist show his personality. In this catagory Heifetz is almost unparalleled, save Michael Rabin and Perlman. His sound pallate is the largest and it definitely negates the idea of only a "fast" vibrato. Kogan, with all his aristocratic and titan elements could not (imo) delve into that world like JH could.

July 11, 2007 at 10:36 PM · Greetings,


>We send them our Jews from Odessa, and they send us their Jews from Odessa."

That was Isaac Stern.



July 11, 2007 at 10:45 PM · oh....my...god. *shakes head furiously to get rid of very disturbing imagery.*

July 11, 2007 at 11:14 PM · I bet 10000$ on Al Kogan, Heifetz is too skinny!

July 11, 2007 at 11:56 PM · How about Leilia J. and Janine Jansen? Dion! Make 'em wrestle!

July 12, 2007 at 12:07 AM · I know what could happen if Nadja was the referee!

July 12, 2007 at 12:15 AM · Perlman? Can't picture him fighting...Vengerov, on the other hand, would totally wipe the floor with any of them. So would Repin...must be a Siberian thing.

Dare I ask what would happen if we bring Mr. Szigeti into the ring? ;-) *evil grin*

July 12, 2007 at 12:27 AM · Ugh, took me a full minute to get that cart racing thing....my mind was already off on another battle. A little slow on the uptake today, don't mind me.

July 12, 2007 at 12:48 AM · No, it's my recent obsession with Enescu that should be worrying people...just ask anyone who's been reading my blog.

July 12, 2007 at 12:55 AM · No, just me and the Romanian. Everyone was scandalized, thought I was about to become a traitor to Hungary or something.

Incidentally, I feel like bombing ArkivMusik headquarters or something, I ordered a CD of Enescu and Lipatti playing their own sonatas a good two months ago and no sign of it yet! Grrrrrr....

July 12, 2007 at 01:00 AM · It's been laying around there for fifteen years and they can't find it anymore.

July 12, 2007 at 01:02 AM · More likely it's still in Romania, which is pretty much a death sentence right there by itself. I am NEVER ordering anything from Romania again!!

July 12, 2007 at 01:08 AM · I was watching something the other day about how strange Romania is. Fortune Teller is an official job category on tax forms or something.

July 12, 2007 at 01:06 AM · I heard somewhere that a popular Romanian folk superstition holds that the best way to protect yourself against malicious curses is to wear your underwear inside out. I dunno, I thought it was a joke until later, I read somewhere else that the entire national soccer team did precisely that for a Euro qualifier match.

July 12, 2007 at 01:16 AM · It's good luck here to not wear any.

July 12, 2007 at 07:46 AM · Joel according to your commercials for Alka-seltzer, I guess you work for that company

July 12, 2007 at 11:26 AM · LOL some of these posts are so funny, especially Dion's and what follows!!

It would be really funny to have a Ultimate Fighting-style tournament starring only famous violinists!

I would put my money (with today's violinists) on Repin putting up a good fight! Maybe also Kavakos (both of them are tall, but Repin is beefier). I don't know how tall Kennedy is but I bet he'd fight well too. I could imagine him fighting dirty! More surprisingly, I bet that Andre Rieu would fare pretty well! He is pretty well built, and the only thing that could stop him is his ultra-pacifist love-the-entire-world-and-let's-hug attitude that he brings to the entertainment world, but who knows, maybe he'd turn out to be a vicious fighter!! Oo and Zuckerman would do well for sure!

If it were past violinists, I would bet on Szeryng (anybody know how tall he was?) or Oistrakh. Though Heifetz, with his perfect technique would probably blast them all away Bruce Lee style!!

Who would you people place your bets on? :D

(this is an interesting post!!)

July 12, 2007 at 12:23 PM · Maura wrote: "I heard somewhere that a popular Romanian folk superstition holds that the best way to protect yourself against malicious curses is to wear your underwear inside out."

Then how does that explain that I've gotten all those malicious curses for most of my life?

July 12, 2007 at 01:45 PM · Let's not forget the ladies! I think Mutter would rule! (She's always scared me a little.) And I could see Sonnenberg as a good street fighter. I also hear that Hahn has been secretly training with Sydney Bristo!

July 12, 2007 at 01:53 PM · Raphael you are great.

Too few people in this forum are endowed of the same your sense of humor!!

Joel and Emily you are in my good list too.

I won't kill you.

July 12, 2007 at 02:17 PM · I guess that for girls mud-fighting should be much more appropriate

July 12, 2007 at 02:52 PM · They are pretty good because they take into account both the weight and the height.

It's a pity that girls who play violin cannot have long nails: a weapon less!

You forgot my favourite female violinist (for sight): Leila Josefowicz!

Eh eh eh! joel!!

July 12, 2007 at 03:21 PM · What about Stern v. Heifetz in their violent sports, ping-pong and tennis,"The Battle of Bow Arms"

July 12, 2007 at 03:23 PM · table tennis?

we want liters of blood and girls loosing their dignity fighting in mud!!

July 12, 2007 at 04:26 PM · This is fun! But semi-seriously re Stern vs Heifetz, I heard that despite his unlikely figure, Stern was a surprizingly good amateur tennis player. He also calimed to have let Heifetz beat him in ping pong because he sensed that it meant so much more to the Great H.! (Who knows?)

July 12, 2007 at 05:36 PM · Mr. Cerone on the first day of ENCORE three years ago: he's giving the "be responsible, don't do drugs, make good choices" speech, and then suddenly out comes "And finally, ENCORE School for Strings cannot be held responsible if you choose to risk your sanity by playing ping-pong with Mr. Lipsett."

July 12, 2007 at 07:00 PM · Heifetz has become as peculiar a figure in the history of musical performance as Toscanini. Oddly enough they had very similar effects on the world of music and they are regarded in very similar ways--they are sacrosanct.

July 12, 2007 at 07:26 PM · What about

Colombo and Angela Lansbury?


Prodi or Berlusconi?


Hitler or Stalin?


Tarantino or Disney?


fish or meat?


pizza or mandolino?


papagheno or papaghena?


Buscaglione or Carosone?

July 12, 2007 at 08:26 PM · Colombo ok

Brlusconi shane on you, I'm a red comerade

Cicciolina mmmhhh a long time ago was competitive!

fish, I'm sorry my friend, I come from Bari!

Papaghena ok I don't know how she is done but she should have..

Buscaglione is less known than Carosone but was equally great!

Give me other couple to choose!

July 12, 2007 at 08:26 PM · Colombo ok

Brlusconi shane on you, I'm a red comerade

Cicciolina mmmhhh a long time ago was competitive!

fish, I'm sorry my friend, I come from Bari!

Papaghena ok I don't know how she is done but she should have..

Buscaglione is less known than Carosone but was equally great!

Give me other couple to choose!

July 12, 2007 at 08:35 PM · Uh...Verdi or Puccini?

July 12, 2007 at 08:35 PM · Puccini even though I hate opera..because you have to pay attention to music story (soap opera stories the most of time with the lovers triangle: lui lei e il cattivo) and the rest....but Puccini melodies are very powerful and intense

July 12, 2007 at 10:30 PM · I'm sorry you have to know that in this way...but yes she's over the hill!

July 12, 2007 at 10:47 PM · She's 55. She's only over the hill for your young ass, who couldn't appreciate it anyway!

July 12, 2007 at 10:52 PM · Hey Jim,

you are a very expert in the topic to know about the precise age of the subject!I'm wondering if your girl knows about your passion for XXXfilms.

How we say in Bari "she fried a lot of octopuses"!

July 12, 2007 at 10:58 PM · "she fried a lot of octopuses"!

That's too Borat for me to understand, but if it means what I think it does, so have I! Now, we aren't judging women according to marriage criteria are we? And archaic critera at that...

July 12, 2007 at 10:57 PM · By the way,

hey joel how can you shift from Piatigorsky to Cicciolina: two experts in different topics?

Even though cello seems.....

July 12, 2007 at 11:03 PM · ne ha fritti di polpi!!

July 12, 2007 at 11:36 PM · who doesn`t?

But she`s wasted on the young.

July 13, 2007 at 03:22 AM · Strange coincidence. Just today, I was imagining what it would be like to take a cleaver to an octet of octopus legs.

Ah, who needs long fingernails when you have a good cleaver?

July 13, 2007 at 03:40 AM · You guys just turned into a Monty Python sketch...

July 13, 2007 at 03:46 AM · Oh dear, you don't know Monty Python? Sacrilege!!! Get yourself some Python DVDs and commence an emergency Strange Comedy Infusion---STAT!!! (I just got back from seeing "Spamalot" so I'm even more Python-happy than usual.)

July 13, 2007 at 12:21 PM · Joel - re Heifetz vs Stern in ping-pong: the story comes from Stern's own autobiography, "My First 79 Years", p.255. I believe that there's an Italian expression to the effect that 'whether it's true or not, it makes a good story'!

July 13, 2007 at 03:10 PM · Raphael--

Si non e vero, e ben trovato!

July 13, 2007 at 03:55 PM · Ahh, bella Italia!

What's wrong with Stern?!

July 13, 2007 at 06:28 PM · Dear joel it means:

"if it is not true it is well found" but it is italian d'antan so I guess it means as Raphael reported "it is well told" so that it is seems almost to be true

July 13, 2007 at 07:40 PM · Jay - yes, that's the expression. Joel, we're coming to the end here. A whole new thread could be started about what's wrong - and right - with Isaac Stern.

July 13, 2007 at 08:13 PM · you are

July 13, 2007 at 08:13 PM · right

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