A Jascha Heifetz Birthday Showdown

« previous episode | next episode »

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Thursday is violin great Jascha Heifetz’s 111th birthday.

In anticipation of the birth anniversary, we offered up three Heifetz concerto performances for you to choose from: by Tchaikovsky, Brahms or Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Despite a last-minute surge for Korngold, the leader all morning was Tchaikovsky's, which we played at noon today.


Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35.

Johannes Brahms: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77.

Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35.

Comments [28]

marilyn rey

For those disapointed about not hearing Korngold, put your Korngold disk in your CD player tonight. For those who feel guilty about voting for Korngold instead of Tchaikovsky, put your Tchaikovsky disk in. Then there is Brahms--we shouldn't leave him out. For those who prefer a different composer or performer, put in the disk that you would have preferred to have heard. A simple solution, isn't it?

Feb. 01 2012 03:57 PM
Neil Schnall

You are correct about the "who" being correct.

Possibly the late Leonard Pennario? I think he used to do stuff with Heifetz and Piatigorsky. Pennario's recording of the Rachmaninoff C minor piano concerto (#2) was the one I heard in my youth. Conducted by Vladimir Golschmann (who had earlier recorded that concerto with Artur Rubinstein - on 78s), that recording still holds up as best, in my admittedly biased opinion.

I expect to hear the Brahms and Korngold concertos played tomorrow on Heifetz's actual birthday. I don't expect my expectation to be fulfilled, this being WQXR, after all.

Feb. 01 2012 12:34 PM
Robert Crockett from Savannah, GA

I vote for Brahms

Feb. 01 2012 11:57 AM
Michael Meltzer

You see, reading most of the comments, WQXR has guided its listeners to a mind-set of the narrowing of choices. exactly the opposite of what a public classical music radio station should be about!

Feb. 01 2012 11:54 AM
marilyn rey from cambria heights, ny

My computer turned itself off while I was writing a comment about why I voted for Korngold instead of Tchaikovsky who is a great favorite of mine. Tchaikovsky (I hope) will always be heard. Korngold needs to be heard. I first heard Korngold years ago when 96 favorites were chosen for the Classical Countdown and I thought it was great. I would later learn that Korngold was considered "chopped liver" by some because he wrote film scores. Interesting that Copeland and Bernstein also wrote film scores but no one would ever dare to consider them chopped liver for doing it!

Feb. 01 2012 11:51 AM
Anne Johnson

Tchaikovsky, please. And in future, when asking for votes, please always include the link to click on; I had to really hunt for this one.

Feb. 01 2012 11:51 AM
Ira Friedman from Teaneck, NJ

Hard choice. But the Korngold intrigues me for the reason others have given. I would love to hear it,

Feb. 01 2012 11:44 AM
Lee Lieberman from Fort Lee, NJ

Heifetz recordings always stir a feeling of admiration in me. He has been criticized as too cold and slick. But not for me. Some memorable liner notes (a recording that fit two violin concertos on one disc which others could or would not) refer to his "tendency not to linger". His incredible ease with the most difficult music is a reflection of ultimate technique,absorbption and love of the music.

Feb. 01 2012 11:42 AM
Richard from Englewood, NJ

The Korngold. How often do we get to hear that! By the way, how often do we get to hear Heifetz do anything nowadays?

Feb. 01 2012 11:27 AM

I vote for Korngold for the same reasons as so many others did: I want to hear something a bit different. I don't know when the last time it was programmed live, I'm sure I missed it if it was programmed here in metro NYC. But truth be told, any of the choices offered by Heifetz would be a welcome addition to my day.

Feb. 01 2012 11:11 AM
Ellie from Greenwich CT

My father used to play his recording of Heifitz playing the Tchaikovsky for me at bedtime. So many sweet dreams! Then I started putting it on the stereo - and I drove my sister crazy one summer playing it so many times I almost wore out the record. I love the others, but this one has a special place in my music memory bank.

Feb. 01 2012 11:07 AM
Jaime Herrera from Texas

My favorite Heifetz recording has always been Brahms with the Chicago Symphony. I wonder why you gave us these 3 choices?

Feb. 01 2012 11:00 AM
Gary from Dallas, TX

I got to hear Heifetz in my youth play the Brahms, mesmerizing. I too agree with Michael Metler, too many "artists" of today are being forced to push tempi, "nail" the music, apart from creating something beautiful. Hearing pianist Stuart Goodyear a few years back shave off 5 minutes of Liszt Mephisto #1 and feeling proud in the receiving line about that, an elderly Polish piano virtuoso/professor chided him for pulling the life out of it - making it "flat line" as he put it. He went on to say, "often the most important notes are the ones we DON'T play" referring to rests and other pauses placed in scores and often are no longer observed. Save for Perlman and Joshua Bell, you would get the same result from many others if you fed the music into a computer. Bravo to all REAL artists, breathing life into every performance.

Feb. 01 2012 10:59 AM

the Tchaikovsky is just brilliant. I did not know that his to be wife was a silent picture star.."You're carnegie hall..

Feb. 01 2012 10:52 AM
Cynthia Weber from Mnahattan

Korngold! Have never heard it. Would like to.

Feb. 01 2012 10:52 AM
Fred from NYC

The Korngold, its terrific. Not that I don't love the others but, we hear them everyday.

Feb. 01 2012 10:24 AM
Tom from Montclair

Tchaikovsky and Brahms are both VERY, very beautiful, and I love to hear those violin concertos, but my vote is for the Korngold concerto, for the same reasons that others have mentioned: we need to hear works that aren't aired as much as others.

Feb. 01 2012 10:19 AM

This will probably be a close race but for sheer melodic quality alone I am picking Brahams.

Feb. 01 2012 10:14 AM
concetta nardone from Nassau county

Think I should have written "I do not remember who it was" rather than "whom". Oops. Also, wonder if anyone out there who remembers who the pianist was. This little concert took place on a patio outdoors with beautiful California in the background. I cannot be the only old person listening to QXR

Feb. 01 2012 10:12 AM
MIchael Meltzer

Unfortunately, Bernie, the young people emerging from the conservatories today are all being groomed to competition standard and are almost completely homogenized. The importance of hearing the great masters of the past is the revelation of the wide variety of styles and artistic approaches possible and viable, and the latitude that exists for creative styling. That is absent, and is one of the reasons classical music is becoming boring. Note-perfect technical whizzes are a dime a dozen, but that's what wins competitions. Contestants don't play their pieces, they "nail" them.
The winners are what the record companies think they can market, and there we go.

Feb. 01 2012 10:08 AM
Counce from CT

Korngold, for all of the reasons above.

Feb. 01 2012 10:06 AM
concetta nardone from Nassau county

Many years ago on Sunday afternoon, there was a tv program that had Heifetz, Piatagorsky and a pianist, but I do not remember whom it was.
Very enjoyable for a young teenager.

Feb. 01 2012 09:50 AM
Victor Mason from Mamaroneck

Any of the concertos would be fine with me. But, as a change of pace after that, how about playing Korngold's long, beautiful duet from "Tote Stadt," if WQXR hasn't played it recently? I think every young romantic WQXR listener will respond to it immediately the way I did the first time I heard it during my 20s. Thanks.

Feb. 01 2012 09:30 AM

I have a feeling that Korngold is the underdog today, so my vote goes to him. To Bernie from the UWS, young people getting into classical music today can't seek out the old masters if they don't even know their names. In that respect, radio stations like WQXR provide an invaluable service in keeping the legacy of the past alive. By the way, in every academic field that I've ever studied, a good chunk of the first semester was devoted to a history of the field and all the greats who preceded us. Why should the field of music be any different?

Feb. 01 2012 09:06 AM
Bernie from UWS

I know Michael Meltzer will disagree with me on this but I'd prefer to hear modern recordings by living, breathing artists rather than artists from the past. The classical music business has enough museum mentality about - why not let us vote on three different contemporary violinists? Heifetz was great but do you think young people getting into classical music today seek out his recordings? Or Kreisler's for that matter? Just sayin...

Feb. 01 2012 08:11 AM
Lou Gerbino from Silver City,Iowa

To me the Korngold has a nostalgic sense that is not present in the other 2.It recalls a time when so many great soloists were all living and reaching out to us,happily preserved on recordings.Thank you for what you do & have done for us all.

Feb. 01 2012 07:56 AM
Julia de Bary from Kearny, NJ

All of three concerto are wonderfull, but my favorite is Tchaikovsky.
Thank you.

Feb. 01 2012 07:41 AM
Michael Meltzer

If it's Heifetz' birthday, it's also Fritz Kreisler's birthday, they do share the same day (amazing coincidence).
I'd much rather hear old Kreisler recordings, scratches, hisses and all, than the fare that's posted, thanks.
Happy birthday to both, all violinists should feel special, today.

Feb. 01 2012 06:59 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.