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Born in 1901
Inducted in 1999
Jascha Heifetz was born in Lithunania in 1901, son of a professional violist whose instruction of his prodigious son prepared him to perform the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto when he was only six. By his tenth birthday he had become a pupil of the fame pedagogue Leopold Auer at the St. Petersburg Conservatory. Heifetz’s professional debut took place in Berlin at the age of eleven, and his American debut on the stage of Carnegie Hall in 1917. He gave as many as five Carnegie Hall concerts per season, toured incessantly all over the world, and used up repertoire not only on the recital programs themselves, but also on the numerous encores that his audiences demanded. His spectacular recording career began in 1917, when he played five short pieces for the Victor Taking Machine company. The following fifty-five years he recorded virtually everything in the violinist’s concert and recital repertoire, some of it multiple times and joined with several renowned colleagues to record chamber music. He made his home in Beverly Hills, California, and became a United States citizen in 1925. The television film that he made in Paris on the occasion of his 70th birthday provides ample opportunity to observe his playing in close detail. In the early 1960s he began to accept students and subsequently held a ten-year series of master classes at the University of Southern California, but his teaching reputation diminished under persistent criticism of his intimidating and imperious manner. His farewell concert, a benefit for the University of Southern California music scholarship fund, took place in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, 55 years after his remarkable Carnegie Hall debut.