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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

Criticism does not disturb me, for I am my own severest critic. Always in my playing I strive to surpass myself, and it is this constant struggle that makes music fascinating to me.

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

You must preserve your enthusiasm for playing. Loss of that enthusiasm is deadly to musicianship.