October 24, 2009 at 06:28 AM ·

Greetings, V.com community!  It's been a very long time since I've posted to this site, but I had to return to share a most amazing piece of audio (w/ hilariously creative backing visuals).

This is a recorded telephone conversation between Jascha Heifetz and one of his students.  Heifetz is throwing one of his many parties at his Malibu beach house.  He billed this particular party as one for his students and their dates (Heifetz loved themes for his parties).  Listen to Heifetz trying to explain to his slightly clueless student why he can't bring his mother to the party.  THIS IS GUARANTEED TO MAKE YOU HOWL WITH LAUGHTER!

Think of the most brilliant SNL skit riffing on Heifetz's notorious formality and need for order, and you have an idea of what a priceless gem this recording is.  It is a miracle that it exists at all. 

What you also discover is a Heifetz, who, for all his rigidity, makes a genuine effort to be gracious, while being deadpan - if unintentionally - funny.






Replies (23)

October 24, 2009 at 06:57 AM ·

LMAO. this is priceless - thank you. poor rudolph.

October 24, 2009 at 07:28 AM ·

Heifetz sets a great example from the old world here--set boundaries, be consistent, and be kind.

These days a lot of people have ill-defined boundaries, are inconsistent, and often quite rude.  Hmmm.


October 24, 2009 at 12:49 PM ·

Classic Heifetz. Obsessive, demanding, and detailed to a fault - and yet fair and considerate.

October 24, 2009 at 03:36 PM ·

Lol!!!   This was very funny!  I can understand Heifetz view!  Unfrequent that one wants to bring mom or dad at a party : )  (Well I am refering to nowadays) It was also funny that the woman who answered (Heifetz wife???) came two times at the phone (almost as much time as the phone itself!). Quite an advanture to call there but again, I understand people like Heifetz might prefered to respond just to serious calls.

Thanks!  Waiting for to the day a v.commer will make a v.com party with "no mothers or fathers allowed" !!! : )



October 24, 2009 at 03:40 PM ·

Agree with Andres!

October 24, 2009 at 04:36 PM ·

Agreed on understanding Heifetz's view.  Despite my initial presumptions, I don't believe this conversation reflects negatively on Heifetz at all.  Clearly, he was planning a party for his students and their friends which he hoped would have a certain dynamic or vibe to it that would be utterly doused by the presence of someone's mother.

What is so illuminating, though, is the initmate window this call provides into the character of the man whose strive for control and order - on and off the concert stage - was legendary.  The pithy precision with which he spoke to his student reflects a life lived in much the same way.  He held to a remarkable personal ethos, and had a keen sense of virtue and integrity, which probably often came off as ossified rudeness.  Notice that he makes his student call him directly, rather than go through another student to get permission.  He has his secretary find out what the topic of the call is, so that there are no surprises.  He imparts a lesson to his student on how bending the rules just a bit can quickly devolve into chaos.  In the same vein, he refuses to get squishy with terminology ("Your mother is not your date.  Your mother is your mother.").  Yet, he shows the good manners to relay regards to the spurned mother and to inquire about the father.

This kind of formality is, of course, completely antiquated in today's business-casual world, but it is no less admirable.  He lead a classic life.  He was a man who liked his trousers sharply pressed, his cocktails perfectly mixed, and his musical interpretations all worked out in advance. 

October 24, 2009 at 05:32 PM ·

That was precious. Thanks for sharing!

October 24, 2009 at 11:17 PM ·

Perhaps having a party with dates was another lesson Heifetz was trying to teach his students.

He may have felt that was something he sadly missed out on

Sounds like a pretty well rounded teacher to me,


October 25, 2009 at 12:30 AM ·

That is awesome.

I love it!!!

October 25, 2009 at 02:06 AM ·

Well, I heard a story from a previous Heifetz student that at one of his little parties the students all sat around with him at the swimming pool and he held forth with conversation. A servant came out with a small plate of snacks. He proceeded to consume them, but nothing was forthcoming for the students. At an appropriate time for him the students were dismissed. I got the impression from this student that he was not a particularly likeable or generous person. I think the students just accepted this.

October 26, 2009 at 12:51 PM ·

That Jascha Heifetz was imperfect as a person - which is also true for all the rest of us - should not detract from his seriousness and dedication as a teacher. He was once asked what are the qualities that every artist should have. He replied, "self-respect, integrity, and enthusiasm."

Dealing with children is one thing; kindness and support are as important as criticisms and directness. But remember, Heifetz didn't teach children. And, the criticisms, directness, and at times rudeness of Heifetz pale in comparison with the criticisms, directness, and rudeness aimed mercilessly at any artist when they are in the public eye. It may very well be that a student who cannot handle the critical side of a teacher isn't going to have the ego strength to handle the rocky road of a musical career. Maybe that is what Heifetz was trying to prepare his students for. If so, one has to respect and even admire his approach.

October 26, 2009 at 03:02 PM ·

Makes alot of since!  If ever I get a teacher like this, I hope that I will bare in mind what Sandy just posted. 

October 26, 2009 at 03:53 PM ·

I agree that personnal behaviours should not be mixed with good professionnal behaviours but of course it is wonderful when someone has the two. I don't know Heifetz so I can't take position for him. But I don't think the poster who told this wanted to mix the two however. He just wanted to tell a story on something a little less knowned that has nothing to do with Heifetz professionnalism and teaching.   Also the line is narrow between being strict for one's good and beeing strict just for the sake of it. But this is for everyone. 


October 26, 2009 at 05:40 PM ·

 I finally listened to the clip and it wasn't what I expected from reading the comments. Heifetz wasn't mean or anything, but he repeated himself unnecessarily, especially after Rudolf had already agreed with him and said "yes" and "okay" multiple times, and both of them seemed to be having a lot of trouble figuring out how to just terminate the conversation.

I was finding myself wondering how familiar and/or comfortable either of them was with the telephone, because the private phone took a lot longer to become widespread in Europe than in the US.  Rudolf sounds European.  If this was recorded in the 1950's or 1960's, it's likely that neither of them grew up using a private phone routinely.

October 26, 2009 at 06:29 PM ·

When I first heard this during the Summer,I had several practical thoughts.Did Rudolf show up with a date,and did his mother ever meet Heifetz? How does Rudolf feel about his private conversation from the 70`s turning up on YouTube? Seriously,Heifetz always needed to exert control .whether his parties or his music.

October 26, 2009 at 06:42 PM ·

If we accept the tone-dialing on the recording, that would place the recording later than the ‘60's I think, although I do not know when tone-dialing became common in California.

As to Heifetz repeating himself–he seems to have been dealing with a fairly fuzzy thinker, who was not actually demonstrating real comprehension.  It’s no wonder he kept at it in an attempt to make sure he got through the fog.  Who knows what past experience with this person had taught him about what was required in order to make something stick.  :-)

October 26, 2009 at 07:24 PM ·

Another thing to consider is the previous relationship with this particular student.  There is more to this than the current phone conversation at hand, and we can only guess what's been said in the studio in past experiences.  Could be a lot of tongue-in-cheek, you know.

The conversation also reads a lot like a math problem, and he explains it with about the same flowery emotionalism you would need to discuss a math problem.  Very thorough, leaving no misunderstanding or room for error.  I like it.

October 26, 2009 at 07:31 PM ·

Based on the student names being bandied about, this call is likely from the 70's. 

I do not think Heifetz was being rude.  Perhaps a bit pedogically severe? :)  He may have sounded stern, but that was his manner; it wasn't a put-on.  There definitely was a logic to the way he ordered his life, and it's fascinating to witness its expression in something as banal as a discussion of who is - and is not - invited to a party.  I didn't think he was being overly repetitive.  He was merely trying to assuage what sounds like a befuddled student.  He had perfectly legitimate reasons for not wanting mothers at the party, and he was reassuring the student that it was nothing personal.  I think he was trying to be kind, in that ineffable Heifetz way.

In the end, I find that this is a gem to be enjoyed, as much for the clever visual background "music" as anything else.  A tiny character play, displaying the personal side of the greatest violinist, ever.

November 5, 2009 at 11:04 PM ·

OMG!!!   What a coincidence.  Hope he's doing find.


November 6, 2009 at 05:28 AM ·

D'oh!  Well, let me be the first to say that, if this is indeed the same Rudolf, I meant no offense.  In fact, were I the one who was talking to Heifetz, I would have been a nattering nabob of nonsense and non sequiters.  Actually, I possess nothing by way of talent to have even been considered for membership to such a rarefied circle.

So, who did you decide to bring?  And how was the party?

November 6, 2009 at 01:41 PM ·

I dunno but Rudolf seems like a party animal to me


He probably also has a good sense of humor,



November 7, 2009 at 12:36 AM ·

That's great!  He did a Franz Clement by way of an elliptical trainer, if you know what I mean.

I've been watching some of his videos on Youtube, and Rudolf is a fantastic violinist, I have to say.  It's no wonder that he was a Heifetz student.  Kudos, Rudolf.

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