How do we recognise Heifetz so fast?

August 3, 2004 at 02:36 AM · everybody knows that Heifetz had about the most individual sound of all violinists? Why is it that we can single out the "heifetz sound" in only a few notes? Give your opinions!!

Replies (19)

August 3, 2004 at 02:52 AM · Slides, vibrato, tone intensity, prolific phrasing, tempos.

August 3, 2004 at 02:53 AM · Drama, impulse, vibrancy, dead-eye intonation and consummate technical skill, along with a most gorgeous sound in every register, especially the high registers

I'm listening to him play the Brahms right now. My God! It's beautiful!!!

Unfortunately, a tendency to rush sometimes where many would like him to slow down. However, I have a 1946 live recording of him playing the Mendelssohn very fast indeed. Now, after several listenings, I can hardly listen to any other Mendelssohn.

Heifetz was a gift to the world in just the same way that Mozart was a gift to the world! As Ivry Gitlis says of Heifetz: "Open your ears and listen!".

August 3, 2004 at 03:04 AM · He's the king, kinda like elvis.

August 3, 2004 at 07:25 AM · I would say his vibrato, which tended to be on the fast and narrow side, and also his bowing, which was fast and near the bridge.

I wouldn't say he had the most distinctive sound - Kreisler was also very distinctive, as was Milstein and Menuhin etc.


August 3, 2004 at 07:57 PM · quick vibrato, over-tempo playing, and just plain out virtuosity.

August 4, 2004 at 02:19 AM · Unmistakable stacatto.

August 4, 2004 at 11:28 AM · only staccato????


August 4, 2004 at 01:56 PM · I dont think Heifetz had a quick vibrato, it was very narrow, and very "hollywoodish", and easy on the ears, not very rich or dramatic, in some passages he didn't even use vibrato, I think thats why people love his sound so much. When he played in the upper registers, he had a bad habit of putting his thumb on the back of his violin, which probaly made his vibrato more narrow. And his playing music over tempo, added to his sound. He is my favorite violinist. Once you listen to him play something, you can't listen to anyone else. I'm listening to him play the Beethevon Sping Sonata right now.

August 4, 2004 at 03:46 PM · Well, I'm not sure any of his movements could really be called "bad habits", I mean if they were so bad, how come he was so good? No, his habits fused beautifully to his playing and let's face can critize Heifetz until you're blue in the face and where will that get you?? Simply put:


August 4, 2004 at 03:55 PM · Yes, but he could play really badly when he wants. ┬┐Do you know his recordings as "Josef Hague"?

August 4, 2004 at 04:02 PM · Bernard, putting your thumb under the back of the violin when your playing is a bad habit. And, I guess it added to his sound. I not saying that he was a god or a king, but I like his sound.

August 4, 2004 at 04:05 PM · And not everyone would call Heifetz "The King". Alot of violinists, critics, fans, will say Kreisler is "The King", or Oistravk is "The King". Their are plenty of recordings that I prefer to Heifetz. Sound and tone is very subjective.

August 4, 2004 at 08:56 PM · What I meant by "bad habits" was that they worked to his advantage, while other people might have difficulties playing that way. And Heifetz was the King in the respect that he was the most techincally and musically stable throughout his entire career.

August 4, 2004 at 10:08 PM · Rick,

the placement of the left hand thumb on the violin depends greatly on the size and the differences there are on each individuals hands. Oistrakh also put his thumb on the back of the neck when he played in the upper register, as did many other famous violinists. You are right Rick, many fans and critics would call some other violinists "the king," but it is easily proven that Heifetz was the "greatest" in that more people were willing to pay to hear him than any other violinist; "greatest in that he made more money playing the violiln than anyone else; "greatest" in that he had more stature than any other violinist. Oistrakh himself praised Heifetz and distinguished him from all others: "there are violinists; then there is Heifetz." Szeryng called him "The Emperor." I also prefer many others to him, but he was undoubtedly the most preferred violinist, by the majority of fans, critics, and fellow musicians, not in terms of personality, but in terms of great violin playing.

August 4, 2004 at 09:02 PM · The mantle of "King" in relation to Kreisler cannot be seriously supported. Perhaps what Kreisler has going for him is sentiment, but he in no way dominates the art of violin as Heifetz does. Oistrakh comes close, and is a viable contender to the throne, for his relative longetivity, consistency, and solid instrumental and repertoirial mastery. But, then again, we all know who Oistrakh looked up to, don't we?

In my opinion, true violinistic greatness requires the fusion of three indispensable attributes: instrumental mastery, artistic versatility, and consistency. The genuine Olympians will have also exhibited a willingness to cast themselves against the rocks of the vast violin canon. It is through the repertoire that the full dimensions of a violinist's character become known, and it is by that knowledge that we are able to judge the violinist's worth.

I look at the repertoire as a collection of peaks that the violinist must ascend. How well a violinist is able to scale each peak, survey the beauty inherent in each work's unique musical horizon, and reflect the glory of what he or she sees in his or her playing determines the level of adoration by the listener.

Heifetz has scaled the musical equivalent of the Seven Summits, and he did it with unrivalled virtuosity and elegance. For that, I adore him.

August 5, 2004 at 12:22 AM · I once read that one of Heifez's students once said that Oistrakh was one of the violinists Heifez admired greatly. In the end, I think they both probably admired one another. Also, I think that if you compare their recordings, they are actually very much equal (though usually musically complitely different).

August 5, 2004 at 03:32 AM · Yes. I unerstand that Heifetz admired Milstein, Oistrakh and Rabin.

I wonder whether he ever heard of a man called Leonid Kogan?

My personal assessment, and an assessment that is shared by some other violinists I know, is that Kogan was closest to Heifetz, both in technique and in the sheer beauty of his playing.

I prefer Kogan to either Oistrakh or Milstein. In some works I actually prefer Kogan to Heifetz (and that is rich praise indeed from a Heifetz fan for many years).

August 5, 2004 at 04:25 AM · Heifetz to me was the most consistent player along with Oistrakh and Milstein. He is one of my favorites. Love his intense vibrato.

August 5, 2004 at 09:56 PM · I can tell you right now that Kogan himself said to not watch and try to imitate the way he plays, especially his bow arm. The fingers are so spread apart, and when he plays, he just seems to crash the bow into the violin, but according to my teacher, the sound that comes out is not scratchy because that particular violin, his del Gesu, is so incredible. My teacher tried to play the G major chord in Mozart Concerto No. 3 at the violin entrance, and he actually tried to scratch the sound, but it just came out more and more beautifully.

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