Listen to Jascha Heifetz on:

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.”

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.

There’s not a living human being who doesn’t need luck. You need luck every time you give a concert. You worry about weather and transportation. Trains and planes are sometimes late; taxis have been known to break down. Then, at the hall, you worry that a string might snap or the lights fail, or that a page-turner might flip over two pages at once.

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.

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?

There is no such thing as perfection. You establish a standard and then you find out it is never good enough. When I play a piece well, I always hope that I’ll play it better tomorrow.

That’s for me to know and for you to find out.

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

Instinctively we recognize good music, and somehow or other, we know the real thing. When I have played in country schools where the children had never heard a flesh-and-blood musician in their lives, they listened attentively when I played first-rate pieces. When I played second-rate pieces – as an experiment only – they wriggled and stared out the window.

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.