He was an uncontested diva. Even world class violinists like Isaac Stern have acknowledged that Jascha Heifetz stood out. Heifetz made hundreds of recordings, he was able to demand the highest fees paid in his day, and he mastered even the most difficult pieces with such ease that his colleagues must have felt dwarfed. But Heifetz was also feared among musicians. He is said to have brought a lot of tension in his legendary trio with pianist Arthur Rubinstein and cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, he would scold conductors when a rehearsal started late, and he fell out with the famous conductor Leopold Stokowski over a recording, to the end that Heifetz eventually forbade its publication. However, there was also another Heifetz who entertained his pupils by imitating poor violin playing, and in his old day, he hit the roads of Los Angeles with a battery-driven car, to fight smog. Jascha Heifetz, who was born in the Lithuanian city of Wilna, would have been 100 today (Feb. 2nd). Georg Hirsch compiled documents, witness reports, and comments by the master violinist himself.
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