They Shall Have Music on TV this week!

September 3, 2007 at 05:08 PM · They Shall Have Music, the 1939 movie that stars every violinist's matinee idol, Jascha Heifetz, is going to be on Turner Classic Movies at 6pm Eastern time on Wednesday, September 5, 2007. To the best of my knowledge, this is a really hard movie to find, so there might be some violinists here who want to catch it. Performances by Heifetz include a portion of the Tchaikovsky concerto, the third movement of the Mendelssohn concerto, the Saint-Saens Intro and Rondo, and a couple of other goodies. So tune in or tape it - or both!

Replies (48)

September 3, 2007 at 10:08 PM · Tape it on a DVD recorder! It is worth it esp. the St Saens Op 28. Simply lovely. I have the show on LD and DVD.

September 3, 2007 at 11:24 PM · Drats. Have a TCSO rehearsal that night.

September 4, 2007 at 01:22 AM · Cheng Hooi, how did you get a DVD of "They Shall Have Music"? I thought it was only out on VHS... Turner Classic Movies, the greatest movie channel ever, has a web site at You can submit a vote to have "They Shall Have Music" to be released on DVD by the copyright holder.

I checked Amazon, and they have VHS copies starting at $74.99.

Thanks for the heads up, Emily Liz!

September 4, 2007 at 05:00 AM · Haven't a lot of violinists been in movies? I heard that Isaac Stern had a bit part as Eugene Ysaye in something...I so want to see that...

September 4, 2007 at 11:43 AM · Anne - I sent you an e-mail. If you see it, please reply to me. Regards - Cheng Hooi

September 4, 2007 at 12:44 PM · Mara: Isaac Stern played the "part" of Eugene Ysaye in a movie about the life os Sol Hurok (played by David Wayne). It's funny, because Ysaye was so big and Stern was so short. Anyway, he played the last movement of the Wieniewski Concerto #2 (I believe with piano accompaniment). Great performance, so-so movie. Unfortunately, I forgot the name of the movie ("Tonight..." something or other).

Regards, Sandy

September 4, 2007 at 03:03 PM · Sandy: I think it was Tonight We Sing. Charles Bott

September 4, 2007 at 03:57 PM · I actually sold my vhs copy on ebay. Made a nice profit. Not before copying the movie to DVD for my own PERSONAL ARCHIVAL purposes!

The other day I saw it on ebay as an asian dvd. So I ordered it. I know it will not be the best quality, but it is probably derived from the LD that was made in the 1990's. At some point I hope that it will make it to dvd.

There was a Strad article in the 1980's or 90's with a list of all the works that were RECORDED and FILMED for this movie, that never made the cut. Who knows, perhaps someone will dig it up and put it on one of those EMI Archive DVD's. One can only hope and dream.....

September 4, 2007 at 06:17 PM · The violin performances are posted on Youtube, and are an interesting study...The bit of the Tchaikovski Melody is beautiful. And in the last movement of the Mendelssohn he plays the main theme at the tip. The man just wasn't comfortable in the bottom part of the bow.

The most revealing part, though, is when he tries to smile at one point in the Mendelssohn (this is at the end when he as "saved" the school). He just can't quite do it!


September 4, 2007 at 07:59 PM · The main theme in the last movement of the Mendelssohn concerto is marked "pp leggiero".

That - more than not being comfortable at the lower part of the bow - seems a good reason for Heifetz to play it as he did.

September 4, 2007 at 08:55 PM · Who is the conductor for the concert hall performance?

September 4, 2007 at 09:06 PM · I believe the conductor in the concert hall is Alfred Newman

the conductor at the end is an actor named Walter Brennan who actually won an oscar....though not for this!

Being the perfectionist that he was, I wonder how many times that student orchestra had to play the piece!

September 5, 2007 at 07:09 AM · I just watched this movie 2 weeks ago (got it via inter-library loan). As far as I could find out, it's on VHS only. It is very much worth watching just to see Heifetz. I thought it notable that the camera angles on the violin give you detailed views that you don't usually get, an advantage of having a top Hollywood crew filming the violinist. I also took note of how much Heifetz plays in the upper third of the bow. The ease with which he plays is spectacular - a lot of the playing is in the "I wonder how he did that" category. Several of the performances are complete, again unusual in film (you normally get only excerpts or an arranged reduction). Enjoy, everyone!

PS Just like Isaac Stern in "Music of the Heart" (whose story line is eerily similar, even though it's based on a true story and the fictional version came much earlier), Heifetz has a few lines. Stern's the better actor. :)

September 5, 2007 at 02:41 PM · KG wrote: "The man just wasn't comfortable in the bottom part of the bow. The most revealing part, though, is when he tries to smile at one point in the Mendelssohn (this is at the end when he as "saved" the school). He just can't quite do it!"

You see that his use of the bow is different from your expectation and you invent that he is uncomfortable at the lower bow. Perhaps the difference between what you see and what you expect is instead attributable to his knowing things about bowing that you do not yet know. I see no evidence of discomfort. You say that his facial expression is "revealing". I don't think that the facial exprerssion seen on the film is the source of any deep psychoanalytical revelation. Here too, your statement sounds like a self invented idea desparately searching for supportive evidence.

September 5, 2007 at 04:30 PM · Some years ago I watched a PBS program on the film director W Wyler. In an out take without sound from the movie, Wyler an amateur violinist,played the violin,with Heifetz directing the orchestra. Heifetz` facial expression seemed one of astonishment.

September 5, 2007 at 04:00 PM · For those living in Asia (Hong Kong and Taiwan), you should be able to get the movie in DVD. The only catch is that the subtitle is in traditional Chinese and it cannot be turned off.

I believe the musical performances in the move were pre-recorded and the performers "provided the action" in front of the cameras while listening to the recording and "tried to play in sync with the recording."

It is a must-see film for Heifetz fans. The story is "old-style" movie story (especially if you are used to the Matrix and/or Rush Hour action). As mentioned, it's worth going through the whole movie just for watching Heifetz's performances.

September 5, 2007 at 06:55 PM · An interesting and amusing little story regarding playing in the upper half of the bow was told to me by Gerald Eyth, of the NBC Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony who related that Arnold Belnick, one of the violinists in the recording Heifetz made of the Mendelssohn Octet, took a small special delight in Heifetz's "jealousy" at Belnick's ability to play a beautifully controlled spiccato even higher up in the bow than Heifetz did. However, all the evidence would seem to point to Heifetz being a violinist of the greatest mental discipline and I can imagine him having gone to the practice room to perfect the ability to play spiccato as high up in the bow as Arnold Belnick did. I never heard whether there was a "rematch" but I'd put odds on Heifetz being able to do it just like Belnick.

One must also remember that different bow holds and arm angles create different balance points which make certain techniques work better in certain parts of the bow. Everyone's arms, hands, and fingers are different so it stands to reason that an observant player finds what works best for him or herself for any given situation.

As for the original post about "They Shall Have Music" I strongly recommend seeing it. I have it on videotape and have shared it with my students over the years. I even attended a summer music camp once where it was required viewing as part of our music activities. Heifetz's playing in the film is exemplary and worth enjoying and learning from again and again.

By the way, there is another performance of the Introduction and rondo capriccioso on film (that is, as part of a movie as opposed to a videotape or DVD of a concert) in Louis Malle's Au Revoir Les Enfants played by Ami Flammer.

September 5, 2007 at 04:29 PM · I just watched "Au Revoir Les Enfants" a few weeks ago, and enjoyed it very much! Especially the Film Scene!

Also, Louis Kaufman listed "They Shall Have Music" as one of the movies that he was concertmaster for. Does anyone know if he is in the film, or just on the soundtrack? Thanks.

September 5, 2007 at 05:25 PM · Oliver:

I was curious to see if anyone would make a remark about the bow. We don't agree. Heifetz's technique was not perfect -- he was not comfortable at the bottom of the bow and seldom plays there. You can't play a comfortable down bow at the frog with a superpronated hand position like he used.


September 5, 2007 at 05:51 PM · I've been looking forward to this.

September 5, 2007 at 06:32 PM · KG wrote: "Heifetz's technique was not perfect -- he was not comfortable at the bottom of the bow and seldom plays there. You can't play a comfortable down bow at the frog with a superpronated hand position like he used."

What a pity that Heifetz did not have the benefit of your wisdom. What a wonderful violinist he could have been.

September 5, 2007 at 06:54 PM · I don`t know about Kaufman,but Henry Roth was in the orchestra,and can be seen just below Heifetz` right elbow in some parts of the Rondo.

September 5, 2007 at 07:19 PM · *runs to get popcorn*

September 5, 2007 at 08:07 PM · Now here's an interesting discussion. What did he do wrong? Don't say things like he was cold. Say things like his wrist was too pronated. Also tell me what pronated means.

September 5, 2007 at 08:59 PM · Mara asked: "Haven't a lot of violinists been in movies?"

I have a film "Hollywood Canteen" with Joseph Szigeti playing Schubert's "The Bee"

(I'll have to watch that again to see if he's using the wrong part of the bow... )

September 5, 2007 at 09:05 PM · Ward, Thank you!

"I believe the conductor in the concert hall is Alfred Newman"

hmmm, the incredible Newman family.

September 5, 2007 at 09:12 PM · David, is that the same clip as on "The Art of Violin"?

September 5, 2007 at 09:56 PM · Not to be confused with Alfred E Newman :)


September 5, 2007 at 11:32 PM · NEWMAN!!!!

[corpulent postal worker seen running with chicken]

Probably not THAT Newman either!

September 5, 2007 at 11:48 PM · KG wrote: "Heifetz's technique was not perfect -- he was not comfortable at the bottom of the bow and seldom plays there. You can't play a comfortable down bow at the frog with a superpronated hand position like he used."

Since when has it become a prerequisite to play at the very frog where dirt and grime collect on the hairs (in order to have "perfect technique")? It sounds absolutely horrible to play spiccato or detache way up there. Many great violinists avoided playing way up there for that reason - not because they couldn't play at the very end. Technique is for serving the music - not the eyes which JH did, just close your eyes and listen. Incidentally, the word pronate refers to the hand facing down or the palm being parallel to the floor - I'm not sure if that really describes JH's bowhold at all.

September 5, 2007 at 11:53 PM · Furthermore, just look at his Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso on You tube. He does indeed play at the extreme frog at times...yes, the extreme frog..look and's just that he chooses not to play there on some notes where KG would have him play there. Hence the absurd assertion that Heifetz is "uncomfortable"!

September 6, 2007 at 12:36 AM · Greetings,

the late great Hugh Bean was cvoncerttmaster of orchestras that accompanied Heifetz upon hi visits to England. He often talked about aspects of Heifetz` technique with genuine insight and authority. The most memorable things I remember he said were 1) the striking thing about the proportions of Heifetz hands was their ordinariness- no extremes of any kind and 2) he wa s not completely comfortable playing at the heel -until he was fully warmed up- which incidnetally, did not take long!



September 6, 2007 at 01:27 AM · Those are some interesting things Bean pointed out. I'd add (contrary to what lots believe about him) that Heifetz in some ways moved more than any other violinist.

September 6, 2007 at 02:49 AM · Alfred E. Newman is my hero--a studly stud among girly girls in this world. A pillar of strength and virtue. A shining beacon of hope, character and values.

Otherwise, the movie was great. I related to the precocious little street urchin personally, though he had me beat on some level I haven't figured out. And, I related to him being smitten by violin greatly as well.

I went and watched it with my violin coach-friend, and we played a little after.

I played the Albinoni I've been working on and she gave me my first complement since beginning violin, in between beating me with her cane--STRAight bow I say!. "You've improved nicely--now say something with your music". And clean the *#$ strings once in awhile!.

September 6, 2007 at 03:05 AM · Greetings,

Albert has clearly found the right teacher for him,



September 6, 2007 at 03:33 AM · Buri--be encouraged. She has volunteered to teach you as well.

September 6, 2007 at 03:48 AM · Greetings,

cool. Can she train next door neighbours cat while she`s at it?



September 6, 2007 at 04:10 AM · No, however I have ordered her a larger cane just for you.

September 6, 2007 at 04:13 AM · thought for a minute you said lager can

Live in hope,


September 6, 2007 at 04:29 AM · Now there's an idea--just as soon as I clean my strings.

September 6, 2007 at 12:16 PM · Mara, yes that's the same video sequence.

Neil, he's Randy Newman's uncle. See


September 6, 2007 at 09:03 PM · Frankie was played by Gene Reynolds who went on to become the Gene Reynolds we saw listed on the TV screen every week for years in the credits of of M*A*S*H as director and producer.

September 8, 2007 at 01:24 AM · Marsha, I was wondering where I'd seen that name before. Thank you. :)

October 29, 2007 at 06:42 AM · The actual conductor of the Meremblum orchestra for the movie was its founder and director, Peter Meremblum himself. He was assisted by Rudy Polk. The full orchestra (about 80 members) performed the actual music; you're watching a synch-over on screen. The actual performance you hear in the movie blared over a loudspeaker, and the abbreviated orchestra and Heifetz played in synch.

October 29, 2007 at 07:00 AM · I talked to the guy who was H's body double in this. If you can't see H's head, it might not be him.

October 29, 2007 at 12:13 PM · I know the discussion has moved on, but just thought to throw in my two cents' worth. KG, do try to know what you're talking about before shooting off your mouth. Pronating the hand does not make playing at the frog uncomfortable. I hyper-pronate (especially necessary as my thumbs are significantly different from the norm) and play right at the frog - which has no grime on it at all, thankyouverymuch - all the time. So do even those of my students who copy my St. Petersburg grip. So did Heifetz. As a matter of fact, the only person I know who genuinely avoids the frog is a student of mine who is quite advanced and whose bow grip is completely unlike mine. I don't mess with her grip but I do assist her in getting use out of her whole bow by having her play various works while holding the bow in the MIDDLE (and sometimes with the frog and the tip reversed) so that her arm - please note: NOT her hand or the grip - gets used to being bent.

October 29, 2007 at 03:02 PM · Emil-I had this teacher who pronated ridiculously and he could play Kreutzer no. 13, at a beautiful mezzo-piano, as legato as you can possibly imagine, within two inches of the frog. All this without dropping the cigarette so delicately perched between his first and second fingers. I guess that's proof that if your hands are made to pronate, you should pronate...

October 31, 2007 at 03:29 PM · I was re-reading the Heifetz chapter in Henry Roth's "Master Violinists in Performance" this month, and ran across this on page 168:

"Heifetz was punctiliously faithful to his own pre-set fingerings, bowings and musical game plan during each performance. I recall vividly the filming of "They Shall Have Music" in 1939. Sitting on the first violin stand of the adult orchestra, virtually at Heifetz' elbow, I heard him perform repeatedly, over a period of five days, Saint-Saens' "Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso," Wieniawski's "Polonaise No. 1" and Tchaikovsky's "Andante Cantabile," while he played along with the pre-recorded sound track at performance-level dynamics. Every note, even in the most dexterous passages, every lyrical phrase and bowing stroke was impeccably attuned to the amplified sound track performance. And both the Saint-Saens and Wieniawski opuses were practically indistinguishable from his previous phonograph recording performances in every detail! (He did not commercially record the "Andante Cantabile")."

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