Itinerary: A Century of Heifetz


If you know anything about classical music, you know Jascha Heifetz. If you don’t, here’s all you need to know: Heifetz was the greatest violinist of the 20th century.

Born 100 years ago in Lithuania (then part of Russia), Heifetz started on the violin at age 3 with the help of his father, a concertmaster for the local symphony. He gave his first public concert at age 7, a solo recital with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra at 10, and played Carnegie Hall at 16. He moved to the United States after World War I, and lived in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death in 1987.


The Los Angeles International Laureates Music Festival-a concert series promoting young soloists-this year is dedicated to the centenary of Heifetz’s birth.


Tonight at 8 at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre (2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, L.A., $30, [323] 461-3673) is the first half of Heifetz’s 100th Birthday Tribute. The performance by the I Palpiti Chamber Orchestra, made up of 19-to 28-year-old musicians, will include the composition “Heifetziana,” by Martin Sweidel. The violin soloist, Erick Friedman, a soloist and professor at Yale, was a student of Heifetz’s in the 1950s. The tribute continues with a second concert Saturday at 8 p.m. at Zipper Hall at the Colburn School (200 S. Grand Ave., downtown L.A. $30. [213] 621-2200).


Heifetz performed all over the world. (He’s said to have traveled more than 2 million miles.) But he also played with his hometown orchestra, the L.A. Philharmonic, 45 times, 22 times at the Hollywood Bowl.

The Edmund D. Edelman Hollywood Bowl Museum has assembled a Heifetz exhibit, on display through Sept. 16. Among the items on display are photos, musical sketches, the program from his Carnegie Hall debut in 1917 and his first recordings.


The free museum, located on the grounds of the Hollywood Bowl (2301 N. Highland Ave., L.A., [323] 850-2000), is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.


In 1948, Heifetz had a friend, architect Lloyd Wright, design a studio next to his home in Coldwater Canyon. Part of the freestanding building has been reconstructed inside the Colburn School (also the site of the second Heifetz tribute concert). After Heifetz died in 1987, actor James Woods bought the house. But he wanted to build something else on the site of the studio. He offered it to anyone who would pay the moving costs of the structure.

The Colburn School, then in the process of creating its downtown campus, raised the money and designed its building to house the studio.

It has been rebuilt right down to the mezuza on the door. Dedicated in 1999, the room is used for master classes, but anyone visiting the school can ask to see inside when it’s not in use. It contains many of Heifetz’s belongings, including artwork, monogrammed cocktail glasses and furniture.


Heifetz played himself in three movies and performed frequently on radio. However, the most complete look at Heifetz’s trademark playing style-torso stock still, fingers doing all the work, bow arm high-may come from TV.

In 1962, Heifetz taught a master class at USC that was filmed for WNDT-TV in New York. The result is an eight-part series in which Heifetz’s students-including Erick Friedman-play and he instructs and demonstrates technique. The entire series is available for viewing at the Museum of Television and Radio (465 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills, Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., Thursday until 9 p.m. [310] 786-1000).