Thoughts On Heifetz, His Playing, And His Reputation

January 26, 2004 at 01:11 AM · Heifetz has a reputation as being 'head and shoulders' in a class above all the other great violinists of the 20th century. He is loved for his virtuosity, poetry, and fiery temperament. His playing is definitely an inspiration. He also deserves much credit for many commissions, transcriptions, and for widely playing the then unknown Sibelius Concerto.

However, I do not see him as the undisputed king of the violin during the 1900's. In the music of the greatest composers, ie sonatas and concerti by Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn I would really prefer to listen to someone else. For me, Heifetz has many idiosyncrasies as a violinist which work to the detriment of these composers' works.

His sound is consistently aggressive and scratchy. I have heard that he supposedly insisted on having the microphone very close to his f-holes when he recorded, and that he did not sound scratchy in a large hall. But if he's so close to the mike, then why does his sound never seem to ring? It always sounds so dry, as if the sound is being sucked up by a vacuum. Quite often when he plays spiccato I hear more scratch than pitch.

Young children are taught early on not to rush. But Heifetz seems to completely disregard tempo, to the detriment of the performance constantly insisting on playing ahead of his orchestra, pianist, or chamber group. He rushes and exceeds his own previous tempo consistently in a way that could not be considered rubato.

His pitch is questionable much of the time. Double stops are out of tune, high notes are off center, and he constantly plays sharp. This especially apparent in his Waxman and his Chausson recordings, as well as all his chamber music.

Ah, his chamber music. One author described as the best recordings of the day alongside the Juilliard and Budapest Quartets. Well, I have recordings by the Juilliard and Budapest so I would like to respond. I think Heifetz's chamber music is just awful and not even worth listening to. The way he butchers the Schubert cello Quintet or the Mozart g minor viola Quintet is shocking. The author of that book also suggests that chamber music was not totally suitable for Heifetz because his sound was more beautiful than the rest of the group, but after listening to his recordings I could swear his sound was much more shrill and ugly than the rest of the group. I have not found anything that special about his recording of the Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn trios either, I have heard those pieces played more convincingly many times.

He had a reputation for "perfection", critics and authors alike use that word far too often. I find him far from perfect. Milstein and Szeryng are quite close to perfect, but Heifetz misses a lot of notes, scratches, plays out of tune, and plays sharp. So why did the term "perfection" become so closely associated with Heifetz rather than Milstein?

Despite these complaints I still have many of Heifetz's recordings and really love listening to them. Among them, the Elgar and Walton violin concerti, the Bruch Scottish Fantasy, that wonderful cd with the concerti of Prokofiev, Glazunov, and Sibelius, and his Viuextemps 5th concerto. Many short pieces are sheer magic with him too. But the great concerti by Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, and Mendelssohn and the Beethoven and Brahms Sonatas? I would take among others, Szigeti, Oistrakh, Stern, Perlman, and Milstein over Heifetz on these pieces.

Is Heifetz a phenomenal violinist and a great artist? Absolutely.

Is Heifetz the 'violinist of the 20th century' and the greatest violinist ever? Nah.

Replies (50)

January 26, 2004 at 01:34 AM · About him "constantly playing sharp", according to Heifetz as I Knew Hi he tunes his strings slighter sharper to add brilliance (according to him anyway).

January 26, 2004 at 08:40 AM · This is a stupid overdone topic.... get over Heifetz

January 26, 2004 at 02:50 AM · I disagree with pretty much everything you said, but I'll reserve my comments until after Military Time has commented and I seriously look forward to what he has to say.

January 26, 2004 at 03:04 AM · Judging by your analysis, I'm at a loss to discern by what standard you still consider Heifetz a "phenomenal violinist and great artist." Your post is provocative reading, nonetheless.

I will offer this, however. I recall reading about a study done many years ago, whereby performance examplars of various noted violinists and singers were subjected to electronic pitch analysis to determine whether they, in fact, played or sang in tune and how consistently they achieved truly perfect pitch. With an accuracy that eludes even the most sensitive human ear, the analysis determined that the most reputedly-perfect violinist did, in fact, deserve his reputation, although even he played absolutely in-tune less than fifty percent of the time.

Heifetz was not perfect, of course. He did play wrong notes at times, but never did he play out of tune (for all practical - and human - purposes), generally.

He could scratch, as a result of his signature aggressive bow attacks. Yet, I would describe his spicatto work as quick-silver and sprightly, not scratch-y. His tone was a ravishing high tenor or soprano, which could lend itself to shrillness, depending on the particular recording. Yet, this was never known to describe his live performances.

His violinistic personality dictated an aggressive musicality that inexorably leaned towards propulsion rather than repose. Yes, he does accelerate at times within a piece (the final pages of the Waxman provide a notable example), but, as with everything Heifetz did, his accelerandos are most assuredly deliberate and carefully considered for its ability to achieve a musical or dramatic effect, although always in keeping with his vision of the composer's intent. His rock-solid inner rhythmn, however, would challenge any metronome.

Considering your specific criticisms, it's curious that you highlight the Elgar, Walton, and Sibelius concerti as being among your favorite Heifetz recordings, as they would seem to contain some of the attributes you claim detract from Heifetz's reputation.

Heifetz was a true phenomenon of the violin, just as Paganini was before him, and as Horowitz was on the piano, although both comparisons are a bit unfair to Heifetz, as JH was an infinitely better musician and a more versatile artist, as well as a more noble and dedicated disciple of his craft, than either Paganini or Horowitz. Through Heifetz, the full capabilities of the instrument were finally revealed and exploited. As a musician, he was the personification of complete and unwavering dedication to Art. He is deservedly positioned as THE dominant figure of violin in modern times.

I would take issue with Mr. Smith's statement that Heifetz was not a great musician. His musicianship was the most exacting of any violinist - not to mention pianists, cellists, vocalists, etc. You may not like how his unique artistic personality filtered that musicianship in works such as the Beethoven. But, no one should doubt his musical chops. He could not have achieved the near century-long reputation his legend enjoys, were he merely a great technician.

January 26, 2004 at 03:20 AM · May I ask what the point is of dissecting Heifetz' skills for the billionth time?

Heifetz was Heifetz. Just deal with it.

January 26, 2004 at 02:56 AM · Please visit the following web site (http://www.stereophile.com/loudspeakerreviews/139/index2.html) to see how a professional hi-fi reviewer to describe Heifetz's beautiful tone with extreally revealing hi-end stereo system. Some of the poor recordings or sub par replay system just simply do not do justice to the Heifetz's performance. People have to be reminded that some musicians' artistic styles are harder to be captured by recording processes. Certain violins have brilliant and bright tone, which can be percieved as a beauty in a live concert. The richness of the harmonic structure can be readily missed when it was reproduced by inferior stereo system and leading to an impression of dry and steeling or harsh. For exapmle, I once went ot Aaron Rosand's concert in Carnegie Hall a few year ago. When I heard his Handel's sonanta, the most distinquished characteristics of his style is the tone. It was so bright and beautiful in the Carnegie Hall. But most of very expensive Hi-Fi systems just fail to reveal the beaty of Rosand's sound. After this expreience, I no longer judge the atistic capability of a performer just soley by recordings. The recordings of performance is like canned food. It simply can not be comparable to the real food made by a gread chef.

January 26, 2004 at 03:26 AM · Greetings,

I think Kazayuki posted the answer to his critque in the question he posed `Why did Heifetz become associated with perfection?`

Or, put another way, why was he the highest paid violinist in history?

Cheers,

Buri

January 26, 2004 at 03:46 AM · Yeah, it's true, someone always starts a discussion about Heifetz, his technique, or is he really good or bad. It's kinda old.... Let's allow this discussion to end and let it float down the list until you have to type Heifetz in the search to see it and respond...hahaha

January 26, 2004 at 04:16 AM · Greetings,

a man almost as wise as his (perhaps) more famous namesake,

Cheers,

Buri

January 26, 2004 at 05:46 AM · He is one of the comparatively few musical artists, even among the great ones, who can be described, somewhat inadequately, as "safe," the master craftsmen upon whom you can rely to accomplish, completely, whatever they set out to do. Once in a while you run across a singer to whom you can listen without wondering whether or not he is going to manage that tricky chromatic passage or whether she is going to hit that high B-flat; a pianist upon whom you can count not to muff that run in thirds; a horn player who, you know, isn’t going to blow a bubble at the end of Siegfried’s fanfare. That is Heifetz.

January 26, 2004 at 05:50 AM · Off of the top of my head, I cannot think of anyone else that holds this reputation.

Heifetz had integrity, honor, passion and enthusiasm. He was also his own greatest critic. He possesed many desirable traits as a musician. After being around his music for quite some time - his musicianship now impresses me more than his technique.

January 26, 2004 at 11:43 AM · Greetings,

Dan, I liked your last remark!

One of the interesting aspects of Heifetz' behaviour that is mentioned so often in Ayk"s book is his refusal to admit he was wrong.

This interests me becuase at one point she describes Heifetz listening to some of his recordings and muttering "too fast."

It occured to me that Heifetz might have backed himself into a corner where slowing down would have een a concession that he made an error in his original tempo selection.

Just an idle thought,

Cheers,

Buri

January 26, 2004 at 02:38 PM · I like Oistrakh more than Heifetz and Milstein combined

January 26, 2004 at 02:59 PM · Why Heifetz was paid the highest salary? Because there is alot of people who enjoy " A Mess Up" along with enjoying music. Heifetz said himself 99% of the people who go see him go to see him play a wrong note. He angered not only the God's but people too. Just my opinion.

How he managed to carry that heavy load of being perfect I'll never know! Out of any other violinist he was expected by the people and the critics to play every note correct!!. Do you think Heifetz twisted and turned in his sleep the night before a concert?? !!

January 26, 2004 at 03:07 PM · The man is dead, let him rest in peace.

January 26, 2004 at 03:02 PM · I think Heifetz has just been used as a stereotype label which we have just become accustomed to using when refering to the ideal violinist. I, myself would not say that Heifetz is the "Perfect" musician, but a great violinist in terms of his flawless technique. This whole Heifetz phenomenon I believe just originiated from the 1940s-1950s when Heifetz became the "it" thing. Although there were many fabulous violinists at the time, such as Oistrakh,Milstein, Kogan, Menuhin etc. they all did not have the same level of techiniqual virtuosity as Heifetz. So I believe when HEifetz showed up and played a Piece at such an incredible tempo, and uneducated audience, who did not consider his musical insight and interpretation, but rather judged him on his virtuosity deemed him the "Master of the Violin". In my personal Opinion, yes, Heifetz was a fine violinist with amazing technique that is the envy of every violinist. But when It comes to Musicality and Interpretation, I would much prefer to listen to Anne-Sophie Mutter and Itzhak Perlman to Heifetz. I myself would much rather be known for as a musician who speaks with heartfelt expression and insight than one who wows with virtuosity.

January 26, 2004 at 06:08 PM · ok...wow...everybody lately just wants to talk badly about heifetz.if u dont like heifetz, then u dont like some of the greatest music ever created by a violinist that almost reached sheer perfection.and thats ur own loss.it boggles my mind that someone cannot like heifetz but i guess thats just me.the negative comments u said of him were quite drastic and ridiculous.god! it was like u were describing a 5th grade violin student! they are ur opinions and an opinion cant be wrong but come on!!! he's scratchy and dry??!?! no.... he's always playing not in incorrect tempos and too fast?!??! this has been discussed wayyyyy too much and is wrong....his pitch is questionable?!?!?!?? i think he had miraculous pitch and intonation...his double stops are out of tune?!?!?!?!?! heifetz was so technically brillant with probably the cleanest double stops.his technique was amazing.he hada distintive style all of his own as well and WAS very musical.i cant belive some people actually think he was unmusical as well......"i find him far from perfection" hahahahhahahaha...well....

January 26, 2004 at 07:20 PM · i too am sick of you certain people trying to butcher his playing. its obvious you are just jealous or incredibly dumb.although, for some people it takes time to get to like him. but if you dont like him, then dont listen to him. im sick of listening to this nonsense. grow up and go practice.

January 26, 2004 at 06:05 PM · When a one human being supercedes his art form it seems to be the nature of the lesser person to find fault, this topic "I do not think Heifetz was so great" is plain idiotic and belongs to the same school of thought why Beethoven and not Hummel. I remember the same silly discussion going on in High School when an extremely unattractive girl said, " I don't think Marilyn Monroe was good looking at all." What can you say?, I was embarrased for her and had such a hard time containing my laughter, that I had to leave the room in aid of some relief. I think maybe the problem stems from the word "Great",when one person appeals to everyone and the term the greatest is used it makes others feel inadequate.

They try to define this physically, They cannot understand why everyone likes this one person. It is a mystery to them, an example is the baseball player Joe DiMaggio,For someo reason unexplainable to certain people he is the Heifetz of the baseball world, he transcended "his" art.

He inspires that universal feeling that all humanity shares, which is ageless.

This was the outraged question asked of St.Francis of Assisi by a handsome voluble and jealouse fellow -friar."You are not beautiful to look upon,you are not a man of great knowledge,you are not of noble birth. Why, then,does all the world follow after you?"

January 26, 2004 at 08:39 PM · Erika -

Opinions can be - and often are - wrong. Yes, a statement of preference (I like vanilla) simply defies argument. But, opinions as to objectively observable facts (whether Heifetz plays out of tune) can be challenged and determined to be either true or false. Most of Kazayuki's judgments can be proven as either factual or wrong.

January 26, 2004 at 09:22 PM · I didn't mean to come across as someone who does not like Heifetz's art. Upon re-reading my post I realize I may have been too negative and critical of someone who I still consider to be a demi-god of the violin and someone who has inspired thousands of musicians. The only point that I was trying to make was that I felt that from an artistic standpoint, I prefer Milstein, Szigeti, or Oistrakh. I also find Milstein, Kogan, and Szeryng to be more consistent technically although I prefer listening to Heifetz over Kogan and Szeryng. Basically I'm just arguing that he is one of the greatest but I do not see why Milstein, Szigeti, or Oistrakh are considered to be lesser artists than him. My observations were at the highest level of art, I did not mean to imply that Heifetz has an ugly sound, bad rhythm, or plays everything out of tune. Regarding the lab studies on intonation, I am unaware of these, but I do not hear Heifetz's intonation as being superior to that of Milstein or Szeryng. Ivry Gitlis said in the documentary, Art of Violin, that "Heifetz did from time to time miss notes or play a few notes out of tune" and goes on to say that Milstein or Hassid could be considered 'more perfect'. I am not familiar with Hassid's playing but I agree with him about Milstein.

Like most people here, of course I would give my left ball to have had the chance to hear him live.

January 26, 2004 at 09:26 PM · What I'm really sick of is people not accepting that it is fine for people to have their own subjective opinion. It is a subjective opinion that Heifetz was the greatest violinist, or the most nearly perfect etc. simply because you cannot definitively and absolutely describe the exact features of what the 'greatest' violinist should be like - and therefore you have no way of measuring a particular violinist's 'greatness' objectively.

So please stop the 'oh ma god oh ma god how can you say heifetz was less than perfect he was the most amazing thing that ever graced the earth you're saying it cos you're jealous and a lesser being...etc' rants. It's boring and senseless.

Carl.

January 26, 2004 at 09:41 PM · Are we discussing this AGAIN?????

January 26, 2004 at 10:18 PM · Good job Anna, but you will get no were responding to someone who is so narrow minded and needs to expand his horizons,my response is simply GET A LIFE!

January 26, 2004 at 10:56 PM · This thread is funny...I don't see the contraversy. Heifetz was extraordinary, not perfect. I'd like to hear him play Arvo Part's "Fratres." Can anyone else not see that?

January 27, 2004 at 12:12 AM · Having been a long time violinist and having studied with one of Leopold Auer’s finest students who later became a world renowned concertmaster, I’d like to relay an incident involving him and Jascha Heifetz. My teacher was concertmaster at a set of three concerts where Heifetz played the Tschaikovsky violin concerto which had as its conductor a middle aged Fritz Reiner. On the first evening after the Tschaikovsky concerto was played there was a tremendous standing ovation and numerous curtain calls. But after the first curtain call Reiner refused to return to the stage. This same exact scenario happened at the other two concerts. My concertmaster teacher told me that at the intermission of the third concert, after the Tschaikovsky concerto had been played, Fritz Reiner acidly commented to him: “What do they need me for when you get exactly the same thing three times in a row”. The orchestra members stood up only once and then refused to be acknowledged a second time even when Heifetz beckoned to them.

January 27, 2004 at 03:21 AM · There are two violin schools Heifetz and those who wish they were Heifetz the rest is meaningless. I think those who look to criticize Heifetz are of the type who smell flowers and automatically look for a coffin.

January 27, 2004 at 03:22 AM · some of you are suggesting that Heifetz's fame is an outcome of audiences and media that didnt know anything about music and that they were just impressed with virtuosity. Ask any professional violinist who is BIG and TALENTED and they will tell why heifetz was special, and why to this day no one has mastered the instrument to the extent he has. It's pointless to talk about his technique or tone, because some people here are stubborn. Opinions are fine, but uneducated, stubborn opinions are useless and shouldn't be expressed. If any of you can find someone that claims to have mastered the violin more so than Heifetz, i'd like to hear about it.

January 27, 2004 at 03:28 AM · carl is a tool

January 27, 2004 at 03:41 AM · Greetings,

I have a question concerning a passage in the book `heifetz as I knew him.` The writer, who wasHeifetz`z accompanist and general dogsbody for the last fifteen years of his life suggests that the Masterclass videos of Heifetz are not representative of what really went on. The explanation offered is that only top students were picked and they were all stage managed. Therefore there was little difference to be seen between the playign of master and student, even by professonals.

I simply cannot make sense of this position. I could see that the videos were stage managed but one striking feature is that when Heifetz did pick up the violin the diference in quality was extremely marked. He was still playing on a different planet to the best and brightest.

Did anyone else who saw these videos think the same?

Cheers,

Buri

January 27, 2004 at 04:29 AM · I don't know how much credibility I have left on this Heifetz discussion but I did see two of those master class videos. I didn't find any of the students to be of the level of today's big soloist, technically or musically. Heifetz easily picked up the violin and completely schooled all of them at will, despite being a frail old man. Was that video representative of his teaching? He didn't really instruct that much.

January 27, 2004 at 05:15 AM · Me thinks the LADY doth protest to much,You are just too jealouse of HEIFETZ your comments are of no merit what so ever, and since you failed miserably in your feeble attempt to downgrade The worlds greatest violinist (yes, "GREATEST" too bad get over it) Now you are compelled to critic his teaching abilities which I found to be quite interesting also - Erick Friedman played beautifully in that Master Class One could not deny the Heifetz influence and Mr. Friedmans ability to truly reep the benefits of such a master,It takes one to know one. I think you are full of it and have missed the point.Your

pedantic detailed analysis of Heifetz playing is just plain boring and embarassing You fail to understand the BIG PICTURE.I am patient with stupidity just not with people who are proud of it.

January 27, 2004 at 06:38 AM · yes....the big picture is the real beauty of it. The Big Picture of Heifetz...Heifetz the magician...ought to be the name of a book.

January 27, 2004 at 07:33 AM · Dan, what do you mean, "carl is a tool"? =)

Carl.

January 27, 2004 at 07:45 AM · Let's end this stupid discussion, if you can call it that..... It's over! No point carrying on because it doesn't teach anyone anything. This discussion frankly sucks and so we should finish it now....

January 27, 2004 at 10:40 AM · Greetings,

Adam, i understand your feelings, and in terms of the topic/position of the discussion we probably agree.

But I also respectfully suggest it is the right of every individual to post on any violni topic that they feel strongly about (okay, maybe this one--NEVER AGAIN!!!!)

Those of us who don"t like have the option of trying to add new dimenstions, trying to see what the apparently erroneous poster has seen or just not participating.

I sort of understand Kazuyuki"s reaction to the masterclass videos. The students are made to look poor but this is because of the disparity betwene them and Heifetz as much as anything else which rather pours cold water on some of Kazuyui"s original arguments.

I have spent some time watching these videos totry and figure out if they are examples of bad teaching or something worth studying more deeply and concluded that the latter is true.

Every single piece of advice Heifetz gave was abolsutely on the mark and well timed. While an inferiro student might not benifit this level of player probably would if they had their wits aboutt them.

I was particularly struck by Heifetz" decision to play quite a long demonstration of the most strenuous part of the Chausson Poeme to Clare Hodgins , who, at that time came across to me as a rather pedantic and untempermental performer. It was as though he knew that the only way to getinside her head was to give a major blast of power playing at close range.

As far as I know that lady went on to have a fine career...

Cheers,

Buri

January 27, 2004 at 02:10 PM · So many great artists... why do we always tend to choose who was the "best". Does it really matters? I think its all an ego trip to see who is right or not... It doesn't matter in the end. Every violinist is different so we can enjoy them all without having to single out one as the best. Why argue about something so irrelevant? The point is that Heifetz was a great artist, and I think everybody agrees on that. So was David Oistrakh, Milstein, and many others. But lets not focus on the best ever, since that starts endless (and meaningless) discussions about who's "right" about their assesment. There are so many important things to do in the world than bashing each other on such trivial matters...

January 27, 2004 at 05:19 PM · Amen to that, Adalberto!

Carl.

January 27, 2004 at 05:19 PM · Hey Dan k

I want to be a tool too

January 27, 2004 at 06:01 PM · "Considering the vast scope of violin art and the fierce competitiveness of its practitioners it is a phenomenon in itself that so many artist and rank-and-file professionals should agree that one amongst them is pre-eminent, particuliarly in as much these avowed HEIFETZ admirers represent so many different interpretative and musical stances.

The reason is simple, these violinist frankly and honestly recognize

that Heifetz can do things with the with the violin and bow unattainable to any one else" Henry Roth.

The oddity of your comments is that Kreisler, Szigeti,

Szeryng, Oistrakh, Milstein,

and Perlman to name just a few, were all in agreement to Heifetz superiority with regard to violin playing, What you are speaking about is not Music as a soloist percieves it or an audience its text book jargon and completely non musical. You do miss the big picture and I can't imagine even enjoying music when you disect it in such a manner.

January 27, 2004 at 07:15 PM · Ted -

I can't help but to think that the story you relay regarding your teacher's experience with Heifetz is apocryphal for two reasons: (1) during the period of Heifetz's association with Reiner, he always played at the end of the printed program, not before intermission, as is customary; (2) the behavior of conductor and orchestra, as described, displays a conspiracy of insolence so unbecoming of professional musicians that I can't imagine such wholesale disrespect ever having taken place inside a music hall, much less in the company of an artist of Heifetz's stature.

Notwithstanding the tale's veracity, it does serve as a useful musical parable, in that it implies that Heifetz's brand of artistry - execution of a performance according to a preconceived plan or vision - is inferior to a more spontaneous, unpredictable, and on-the-spot performance where the musical vectors and arcs are determined in the moment. Menuhin referred to these competing philosophies in "Art of Violin" - i.e. calculation v. abandon (simplistic, but serviceable descriptions).

Of course, even the most prefabricated performances are never exactly alike. Heifetz was famous for laying out an architectural and interpretive vision and following it scrupulously performance after performance. But even his multiple recordings of such works as the Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Beethoven, etc. are distinguisable from one another. Speaking only for myself, I have to say that I admire the dedication and discipline Heifetz's approach to performance entails. He knew exactly what he wanted to do, and each performance was minted with his gold standard. He did not engage in on-stage flights of fancy, but rather did his experiments at home, so that the end-product he presented to his paying customers represented his very best statement of a composer's work.

January 27, 2004 at 08:06 PM · I wonder if Heifetz would speak in such a contrived and arrogant manner as some violinist do, It always baffles me that the less someone knows,The more they talk about it.The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Heifetz could play the violin so he did not need to pontificate in such pompous matter as some who cannot play.

January 27, 2004 at 08:49 PM · Well, some of you are very rude, I must say. I didn't attack any of you personally as you attacked me. I have listened to recordings quite a bit and was just stating my current opinion.

Yes, I prefer Szigeti and Oistrakh in concerti by Brahms and Beethoven. I prefer Heifetz on Viuextemps's 5th.

I find Milstein to be my favorite violinist overall.

I don't sit around trying to dissect legendary artists, but performances that are too fast and aggressive can get to me, especially in chamber music, Beethoven, and Mozart. Tasteless slides in Mozart are not something I worship.

If you disagree with me that strongly perhaps you could have pointed out what you think I'm missing when I listen and I would try to listen differently and/or notice the aspects of his art you find great. I have a friend who is an art student and that's what he did when I told him I didn't like Rothko. I appreciate Rothko much more now. As for many of you calling me ignorant or idiotic or stupid, there is a certain irony to that. I'm in a good place and I'm grateful for that. I'm quite a bit more advanced than many of you but I still thought you might give me ideas.

Some of you read something in a book or are told something by an older person and think you're mature and sophisticated if you believe it. I've met people who say what an amazing piece Beethoven's op quartet 131 or op 109 Piano Sonata is, and don't recognize it when I sing it. When I was younger I actually said that I thought Beethoven's 10th sonata was boring, and of course I feel differently now. But at least I was honest and didn't jump on a bandwagon just to pass myself off as being mature.

I didn't find any of his students to play as well as say, Mutter, Bell, or Vengerov. With all the hype about Friedman I was expecting something more on that level.

Well, why don't we get back to interesting discussions like 'which is the most difficult Paganini caprice' or 'is the Ernst concerto more difficult than Wieniawski's 1st' or 'who are those amazing finalists in that prestigious violin competition (that won't be doing much after winning their prize)' and so on.

January 27, 2004 at 08:45 PM · There is a world of difference

between a performing artist and theory teacher,a writer and a grammar teacher. Who cares if Charles Dickens didn't cross his Ts a few times is it relevent?

January 27, 2004 at 08:53 PM · Firstly how do you know that your playing is better then people on this board,That is POMPOUS!!! Erick friedman is a great violinist and you are not. in my opinion you cannot tell the difference you anylise music to death and labor over uninportant issues that have no meaning in the real violin world.

January 27, 2004 at 09:29 PM · I find it remarkably ironic how quick some are to call others pompous. Who are you to point the finger after all?

Carl.

January 27, 2004 at 09:47 PM · You seem to be contradicting yourself, first of all you can prefer another violinist rendition of a piece of music that is a matter of taste. quoting from a book is only used to validate ones opinions for instance; you name several violinist who you prefer, who stated, themselves that they found Heifetz violin playing superior you seem not to be in agreement with the violinist you say you prefer

I think your personel approach to the violin is more academic and less artistic. The violin is a vocal instrument and Heifetz approach like many great soloist is an artistic one.

I prefer Erick Friedman's playing to the violinist you mentioned because he sounds better. His tone is more beautiful his intonation more accurate and I prefer his overall approach which lends itself to finer violin playing that is just my opinion.

January 27, 2004 at 08:58 PM · If you're really just wanting things to look for to appreciate Heifetz more, I'm sure there are many who can help you there.

I may have been a late-bloomer Heifetz-appreciater myself. I, too, had a hard time with the extremely fast tempos and the too-close sound--although admittedly everything was super clean. Milstein was my favorite at that time, too. I feel like I understand exactly where you're coming from, because I said nearly the same exact things. It's extremely familiar.

It probably wasn't until some 10+ years later that I really started to get into Heifetz. And not without some serious persuasion, too. It probably helped that by this time I was studying with someone who STUDIED with Heifetz (in those masterclasses) and who heard him up close and in concert regularly. I started hearing lots of stories about him, his playing and teaching. I had a lot of my questions answered about him, such as "was he really that scratchy in person?" and "was his vibrato really that annoyingly fast?" (The answer to both of those questions was "no" of course) My teacher passed on to me many things he had learned from Heifetz, which were not exactly what I expected. I started watching more video footage and listening to more recordings. And....wow...now I get it.

I have a completely different picture of Heifetz now. Now I can hear the legendary Heifetz sound in spite of recording quality. When I watch video I can see and understand what he's doing. And most of all I now not only appreciate the technical monster he was but the incredible musicianship that is there only after one has completely mastered all technical challenges. No wonder he played fast. It was child's play. Even though it's fast, listen to the coloring, phrases, and overall musical picture. It's all there, and plentiful.

Another thing that may help: have you played the piece you're listening to Heifetz play? That made a big difference for me, too. After you have really learned a piece well, and feel like you've conquered it, THEN go back and listen to Heifetz and it may surprize you how much more you appreciate his playing. And not just technically, but MUSICALLY.

It's all there. Everything everyone has said. I have a friend who also did computer analysis of intonation in recordings and was also blown away by the comparative accuracy of Heifetz. One more thing--the better I get, the more I appreciate Heifetz and feel I have more to learn from him. Strangely enough I can't say the same about all of my favorite violinists that I listen to.

Good luck and happy listening!

January 27, 2004 at 09:54 PM · I went back and listened to my HEIFETZ recordings he was the MAN!!

January 27, 2004 at 09:57 PM · Heifetz's playing is amazingly calculated, technically and musically.

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