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Jascha Heifetz (1901 - 1987)


Jascha Heifetz was the man who stabilised and consolidated the way most difficult of instruments was handled. He set the tone, and throughout his adult career, critics, fellow musicians and the public used him as their benchmark of good violinism. On a purely technical level, he has not been equalled, let alone surpassed. Yet even this quintessentially twentieth-century man sometimes harked back in style to an earlier age. He used certain tricks from the nineteenth century, especially little nudges of rubato and slithers of portamento, and when it came to giving a recital, he took his cue from his predecessors. He would generally schedule just one masterpiece, among a miscellany of other pieces including some of his own transcriptions, and he usually appeared with an accompanist, rather than a pianist of his own stature.

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