WHEN HEIFETZ PLAYED ON AND ON AND ON
Lily Levene, Sea Cliff. L.L.
New York Times, Letters to the Editor
December 27, 1987
tributes to Jascha Heifetz (obituary, Dec. 12), may I offer a small and
treasured memory. In the halcyon days before war clouds obscured our
innocence, there existed in Regent Street, London, near the present
British Broadcasting Corporation, a concert hall. It was the Queen's
Hall, which gave birth to promenade concerts, and it was to the Queen's
Hall that celebrities and the public flocked.
every Saturday afternoon, the seats would be removed from the auditorium
to allow us to stand and listen. My home was around the corner, and I
would spend all my pocket money and Saturday afternoons at the Queen's
I was 12
when Heifetz came. With him came a reputation for coldness and for never
giving encores. At 3 o'clock the concert began. At about 4:45 it ended,
and Heifetz left the platform. The audience, mainly young people, went
wild, screaming, clapping, shouting. Heifetz returned, minus his violin.
The clapping and shouting continued. He bowed, left -and returned with
rose to a crescendo, which was promptly stilled as he began to play. At
the end of the encore, we rushed toward him, and presently as many as
could scramble onto the platform climbed up, and we sat at his feet as
he began to play. And he played, and he played, and he played. It was
only as the time for the evening performance at 8 approached that he
afternoon, and the smile on the face of Heifetz, are etched in my memory
among the treasures that nothing will erase.