Quotations

Throughout his career, Jascha Heifetz was known for many wise, amusing, and occasionally perplexing statements that were reported in the press, or shared with family members, audiences, and students.

Here are some of the most memorable ones.

Stopped on the streets of Manhattan and asked how to get to Carnegie Hall, Heifetz is reported to have replied: “Practice, practice, practice.”

We continue learning every day of our life. But for some of us, too much formal education can result in getting nowhere by degrees.

I feel strongly that every child – not just the musically gifted – should receive some musical instruction. With rare exceptions, children have an instinct for music, are to a certain extent musical, and should be musically developed. For the child’s own future enjoyment and his own satisfaction, he should learn to play an instrument. These days, when we are trying to make things easier for our children, we may be too timid about the process of their learning an instrument. Children should be forced to learn an instrument, gently but firmly.

We do not need to be educated musically. We simply need to guard against musical miseducation. Our own ears, unless they have grown so used to mediocrity that they have lost their keenness, will do the rest of the job for us.

Guide a youngster’s fingers over a piano keyboard, and let him pick out Yankee Doodle. From that moment onward, he will have a heightened appreciation of music.

You can “just listen” to the Brahms violin concerto and enjoy it keenly. But if you read about Brahms’ life, you appreciate it more. And, if you’ve listened to recordings of it, you will appreciate it ten times as much.

You always hear of the “delicate, sensitive artist.” I assure you that it takes the nerves of a bullfighter, the digestion of a peasant, the vitality of a nightclub hostess, the tact of a diplomat, and the concentration of a Tibetan monk to lead the strenuous life of a virtuoso. The great compensation, of course, is the human one. In the course of giving concerts, I have been around the world many times. I know literally thousands of people in all parts of the globe. I don’t suppose there’s a place in the world where I haven’t friends. If that’s not a reward for service, what is?

Music has a lot in common with mathematics. But in music, two and two need not make four: they add up to whatever you wish.

The discipline of practice every day is essential. When I skip a day, I notice a difference in my playing. After two days, the critics notice, and after three days, so does the audience.

I have discovered three things that know no geographical borders – classical music, American jazz, and applause as the sign of the public’s favor.