Heifetz, Jascha, 1901-1987

Alternative names
Birth 1901-02-02
Death 1987-12-10

Biographical notes:

Violinist Jascha Heifetz was born on Feb. 2, 1901, in Vilnius, Lithuania. He studied violin with Leopold Auer at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. He embarked on an international career in 1912, became an American citizen in 1925, and continued to concertize and record until 1972. He died in Los Angeles on Dec. 10, 1987.

From the description of Jascha Heifetz collection, 1802-1987 (bulk 1911-1974). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71055203

Jascha Heifetz, legendary American violinist, was born in Vilnius on February 2, 1901. His first teacher was his own father, but he also studied with Elias Malkin before being accepted into the St. Petersburg Conservatory in 1910. He studied first with Leopold Auer's assistant, Nalbandyan, and then with Auer himself. Heifetz had impressed audiences from the age of six when he performed Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. At the age of ten he performed in St. Petersburg, and his highly successful Berlin debut took place on May 23, 1912. Later that same year he performed with the Berlin Philharmonic under the direction of Arthur Nikisch. In 1917 Heifetz was offered the opportunity to perform a concert tour of the United States, and on October 27 that year he made his Carnegie Hall debut. In 1925 Heifetz became an American citizen. During the early 1920s Heifetz performed in England, Australia and East Asia, and later in the decade he performed in Palestine. In 1934 he made a return concert visit to Russia. After the Second World War Heifetz reduced the number of his concert appearances although he made notable appearances with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in 1967 and at Carnegie Hall, where he performed collaboratively three times in 1964 with several artists, including Piatigorsky. Other musicians with whom Heifetz collaborated in chamber concerts were Emanuel Feuermann, William Primrose and Artur Rubinstein. Beginning in 1962, Heifetz taught at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles and was the first faculty member to hold the Heifetz Chair in Music which was established in 1975. Throughout his life Heifetz made numerous recordings on major labels such as Columbia, Decca and Gramophone, but the largest number of recordings he made were for the Victor/RCA Victor label. He composed music himself and also wrote numerous transcriptions for the violin. Under the alias Jim Hoyle, he wrote the hit song "When You Make Love to Me (Don't Make Believe)" which was sung by Bing Crosby. Heifetz also commissioned and performed several new concertos, of which probably the most well-known is the Violin Concerto by William Walton. Other concertos commissioned by Heifetz include those by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Louis Gruenberg and Arnold Schoenberg (which Heifetz never played).

From the description of Jascha Heifetz Collection. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 696737036

Biographical Sketch

  • 1901 Feb. 2: Born in Vilna (Vilnius), Lithuania
  • 1904: First violin lessons with father, Ruvim (Reuven)
  • 1910: Admitted to St. Petersburg Conservatory; begins studies with Leopold Auer
  • 1912 May 24: Berlin recital debut
  • 1912 Oct. 28: Berlin Philharmonic debut under Arthur Nikisch, performing Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
  • 1917 June 27: Leaves for New York
  • 1917 Oct. 27: Carnegie Hall debut
  • 1917 Nov.: Makes first recordings, for Victor records
  • 1920 May 5: London debut, Queen's Hall
  • 1921: Tours Australia and New Zealand
  • 1923: Tours Far East; purchases Guarneri del Gesu violin
  • 1925: Becomes an American citizen
  • 1926: Tours Palestine
  • 1928: Marries Florence Vidor
  • 1930: First child, Josepha, born
  • 1931: Radio debut
  • 1932: Second child, Robert, born
  • 1934: Tours Russia for the first and last time after immigrating to the United States
  • 1938: Stars in Samuel Goldwyn film "They Shall Have Music"
  • 1939 Dec. 7: Premieres concerto by William Walton in Cleveland under Artur Rodzinski
  • 1940: Tours South America
  • 1941 - 45 : Performs at American military bases, completing three overseas tours for USO campshows
  • 1945: Divorced from Florence Vidor
  • 1946: Marries Frances Spiegelberg
  • 1947: Takes two-year sabbatical from concert performance; continues to record
  • 1948: Joseph (Jay) born to Frances and Jascha Heifetz
  • 1949 Jan.: Returns to concert stage
  • 1951: Acquires "Dolphin" Stradivarius
  • 1952 Feb. 28: Deposits collection of music and correspondence at the Library of Congress
  • 1953 Apr. 16: Attacked following Jerusalem recital, apparently for having performed the Richard Strauss violin sonata
  • 1956: Curtails concert appearances
  • 1960: Forms duo with cellist Gregor Piatigorsky
  • 1962: Begins teaching at the University of Southern California
  • 1972: Final recordings made
  • 1972 Oct. 23: Final public concert presented
  • 1975: "Heifetz Collection," a 5-volume 30-disc set, released by RCA
  • 1987 Dec. 10: Dies in Los Angeles

From the guide to the Jascha Heifetz Collection, 1802-1987, (bulk 1911-1974), (Music Division Library of Congress)


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Ark ID:


  • Trios (Piano, violin, viola)
  • Musicians--Correspondence
  • Violin with orchestra
  • Concertos (Violin)--Cadenzas
  • Violin and piano music
  • Concertos (Violin)
  • Music--Manuscripts--Facsimiles
  • Violinists
  • Sonatas (Violin and piano)
  • Violin music
  • Piano quartets


  • Performer


  • United States (as recorded)