The obituaries following Jascha Heifetz's death in 1987 mostly read like a thesaurus of superlatives - much like his 1917 Carnegie Hall debut did, seventy years previously. The obituaries included here are but a small selection of the countless published in the press the world over.
Some articles, including those written by noted music writers and journalists, contain various inaccuracies about Heifetz. The articles are left intact, as they were printed, with no corrections made, as are their respective copyrights.
JASCHA HEIFETZ DIES AT 86
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JASCHA HEIFETZ DIES AT 86 Newsday (ND) - Saturday December 12, 1987 By: Vivienne Walt. Peter Goodman contributed to this report.
TEXT: Jascha Heifetz, regarded by many as the greatest violinist of this century, died late Thursday at a Los Angeles hospital, at the age of 86.
Spokesman Ron Wise at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center told reporters yesterday that Heifetz had died at 11:20 p.m. from complications arising from a fall nearly two months ago at his Hollywood Hills home, and from subsequent brain surgery.
Violinist Itzhak Perlman said: "Ever since I can remember, he was the top, the epitome of what incredible violin-playing meant."
Perlman said that he decided to become a violinist after first hearing a recording by Heifetz on the radio in Israel, when Perlman was a boy of 4 or 5. "I heard him and said to my parents, 'I want to play the violin.' "
The intensely private Heifetz played his first violin as a 3-year-old in Vilna, Lithuania, and began performing publicly when he was 7.
His international fame began at the age of 16, when he made his sensational debut at Carnegie Hall, days after the 1917 Russian Revolution, from which his parents had fled.
He was hailed by one New York critic as "a modern miracle," by another as "a perfect violinist." (A profile, Part II.)
But Heifetz, described by some interviewers as having a reticent personality, snubbed such praise. "There is no such thing as perfection," he once said. "After you have set a standard, you learn that it was not high enough."
Heifetz so disliked the publicity his concert performances brought him that he refused to perform under a spotlight and revealed only sparse details about his life.
"Just make it: 'Born in Russia, first lesson at 3, debut at 7, debut in America in 1917,' " he told one interviewer. "That's all there is really, about two lines."
He snubbed another reporter entirely, saying, "I don't want to write my own obituary."
Musicians and music-lovers heaped praise on Heifetz yesterday, amply filling out that obituary.