Month: January 2018

Who was Jascha Heifetz?

Heifetz

Born: February 2, 1901 in Vilnius, Lithuania (then part of the Russian Empire)
Died: December 10, 1987 in Los Angeles, California

Jascha Heifetz is considered by many to be the greatest violinist of all time. Heifetz’s father was a local violin instructor and noticed his son’s potential from a very young age, purchasing a small violin to teach basic techniques when Jascha was barely two years old. At five, Heifetz enrolled in a local music school and began taking formal lessons. A child virtuoso, he made his public debut at seven in the nearby city of Kaunas and, at nine, entered the St. Petersburg Conservatory to study with the famed Hungarian violinist and pedagogue, Leopold Auer. Auer reportedly wrote to a German manager, “He is only eleven years old, but I assure you that this boy is already a great violinist… In all my fifty years of violin teaching, I have never known such precocity.”

Life in and beyond the concert hall

“If you provoke a jealous God by playing with such superhuman perfection, you will die young. I earnestly advise you to play something badly every night before going to bed, instead of saying your prayers. No mortal should presume to play so faultlessly.”

— George Bernard Shaw, in a letter following Heifetz’s London debut (1920)

Playwright George Bernard Shaw’s tongue-in-cheek warning went, thankfully, unheeded. Over the course of his career, Heifetz toured internationally and throughout the United States (where his family settled after leaving Russia in 1917, shortly after which he made his Carnegie Hall debut at 16). He also performed in a number of benefit concerts and served extensively with the USO during WWII.

In addition to being an incomparable violinist, Heifetz was also a gifted pianist and composer; he expanded the violin repertoire through transcriptions and arrangements of works by other artists. (A close friend of George Gershwin’s, his transcriptions of the latter’s piano preludes and selections from Porgy and Bess are some of the most beloved to this day). Not to be outdone by the gravity of his existing accolades, he also wrote several popular songs under the pseudonym Jim Hoyl, one of which was recorded by Bing Crosby.  

A lasting legacy

Heifetz_illustration

“Jascha Heifetz” by James Charles Jr. House; Woodmere Art Museum

“The goals he set still remain, and for violinists today it’s rather depressing that they may never really be attained again.”

— Itzhak Perlman, from The Guardian

Over the course of his lifetime, Heifetz made hundreds of recordings with Decca Records and RCA Victor; he was one of the first musicians to amass a following via recordings before he appeared in person on any one of his worldwide tours.

Jascha Heifetz taught at the University of Southern California from 1962 until 1983, where several of his masterclasses were filmed and broadcast on television. In 1972, a shoulder injury put an end to his public career, but his bow arm remained unaffected and he continued performing privately until his death in 1987.  


Performances of the Primary Stages production of A Walk With Mr. Heifetz start January 31 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. For tickets and additional information, please visit our website.

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Meet the cast of A Walk With Mr. Heifetz

The third show of our 2017/2018 season, A Walk With Mr. Heifetz by James Inverne, is fast approaching! Meet our four featured players who will be bringing this serendipitous historical meeting to life.

Yuval Boim headshot

Yuval Boim (Yehuda Sharett). New York: New Group, HERE, Ma-Yi, Culture Project, NYTW, Public, Playwrights Realm, and others. Regional: Shakespeare Theatre (Helen Hayes Award), George Street, Huntington, Premier Stages. Film/TV: That Awkward MomentNorman, “Bull,” “Blue Bloods,” “Red Oaks,” “Believe,” “Law and Order: SVU.” Writing: D.I.Y. (Duplass Brothers grant), Sexcurity (Cleveland Public Theatre). Training: London International School of Performing Arts (MFA), Boston University (BFA). Actors Center company member.

Adam Greene

Adam Green (Jascha Heifetz) New York: Signature, Red Bull, Pearl, Second Stage Uptown, Playwrights Realm, 59E59, many others. Regional: Affiliated Artist with Shakespeare Theatre of DC (two Helen Hayes nominations), McCarter Theatre, Hartford Stage (CT Critics Circle nom.), Barrington Stage, Alley Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, many others. TV: “The Good Wife,” “Madame Secretary,” “Billions.” Training: NYU, MFA; Harvard, BA in English. 

Mariella Haubs

Mariella Haubs (Violinist) has performed all over Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to refugee camps in Europe. Glamour Magazine named her a Top 10 College Woman of 2014. Mariella holds a BM and MM from The Juilliard School, where she studied with Itzhak Perlman and Catherine Cho. 

Erik Lochtefeld

Erik Lochtefeld (Moshe Sharett) Broadway: Misery, Metamorphoses. Off-Broadway: Napoli, Brooklyn (Roundabout), The Light Years (Playwrights Horizons), A Funny Thing… of NYC (MCC), Stupid F***ing Bird (The Pearl), Small Mouth Sounds (Ars Nova), Powerhouse (New Ohio), Row After Row (Women’s Project), Tamar of the River (Prospect Theatre), Melancholy Play (13P), February House (Public Theater). TV/Film: “Madame Secretary,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Law & Order”. www.eriklochtefeld.com


Performances of the Primary Stages production of A Walk With Mr. Heifetz start January 31 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. For tickets and additional information, please visit our website.

Six Reasons to Choose Fordham/Primary Stages for your MFA in Playwriting

Built on the collaborative strength of two New York City theater organizations, the Fordham/Primary Stages MFA program in playwriting offers emerging writers the opportunity to develop and produce original work under the guidance of respected industry professionals.
Here are six things that make this program special:

1. Advantages of a professional environment

You’ll have the opportunity to work directly with industry professionals, like Primary Stages Founder Casey Childs.

2. Investment in students as artists and professionals

Our students leave our classes knowing not just how to write a great play, but also how to manage the business of making a living as a writer.

3. Individual attention from professors

With only two writers accepted each year, you’ll benefit from personal attention throughout the program.

4. Opportunities for artistic growth

Fordham’s theater program has a successful history of artist training.

5. Real world experience in New York City’s theater industry

Your two-year program culminates in a public production of a full-length play at an Off-Broadway theater venue.

6. Support of Artistic vision

Primary Stages has been supporting, nurturing, and sharing the art of new American playwriting for over 30 years.
Think our MFA program might be a good fit for you? Learn more here.