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Monday, October 16, 2006

"A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought." - Dorothy L. Sayers

***

Jascha Heifetz

"On his third tour to Israel in 1953, Heifetz included in his recitals the Violin Sonata by Richard Strauss. At the time, Strauss was considered by many to be a Nazi composer (see Strauss and the Nazis), and his works were unofficially banned in Israel along with those of Richard Wagner. Despite the fact that the Holocaust had occurred less than 10 years earlier and a last-minute plea from the Israeli Minister of Education, the defiant Heifetz argued that "The music is above these factors ... I will not change my program. I have the right to decide on my repertoire." Throughout his tour the performance of the Strauss sonata was followed by dead silence.

Heifetz was attacked after his recital in Jerusalem outside his hotel by a man who struck blows to his right arm with an iron bar. As the attacker started to flee, Heifetz alerted his companions, who were armed, "Shoot that man, he tried to kill me." The assailant escaped and was never found. The incident made headlines in the press and Heifetz defiantly announced that he would not stop playing the Strauss. Threats continued to come, however, and he omitted the Strauss from his next recital without explanation. His last concert was cancelled after his right arm began to hurt. He left Israel and did not return until 1970.

After only a partially successful operation on his right shoulder in 1972 he ceased giving concerts and making records. Although his prowess as a performer remained intact and he continued to play privately until the end, his bow arm was affected and he could never again hold the bow as high as before."


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