American Masters http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters A series examining the lives, works, and creative processes of outstanding artists. Fri, 17 Apr 2015 12:25:33 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.8.4 en hourly 1 Percy Sledge Interview: An In Memoriam Tribute http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/about-the-series/percy-sledge-interview-an-in-memoriam-tribute/3851/ http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/about-the-series/percy-sledge-interview-an-in-memoriam-tribute/3851/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 17:18:20 +0000 knightc http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/?p=3851 (View full post to see video)
On the evening of his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, R&B singer Percy Sledge (1940 – 2015) was interviewed for American Masters – Atlantic Records: The House That Ahmet Built (2007). In this film outtake, Sledge recollects growing up in Leighton, Alabama, his love for Elvis Presley and country singers, and his youthful musical performances. Sledge, whose best known classic hit is “When a Man Loves a Woman,” died on Tuesday, April 14, 2015, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was 73.

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Jascha Heifetz: Estrellita, Heifetz’ Encore Song http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/jascha-heifetz/estrellita-heifetz-encore-song/3849/ http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/jascha-heifetz/estrellita-heifetz-encore-song/3849/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 21:58:34 +0000 knightc http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/?p=3849 (View full post to see video)
When he was on world tour, Jascha Heifetz liked to include music on the program by a composer of the country in which he was performing. In 1923 he was in Mexico City and realized he didn’t have any work by a Mexican composer. While in a cafe there, he heard a local musician sing a popular song written by Manuel Ponce called Estrellita (My Little Star). He took notes on his napkin and that night, composed an arrangement for violin and piano based on the song. It became one of his favorite encores.

In this film outtake, Ayke Agus, Heifetz’ former student and master assistant, performs the arrangement on piano.

The one-hour documentary American Masters — Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler premieres nationwide Thursday, April 16 at 8 p.m. and Friday, April 17 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

Major market premieres include Thursday, April 16 at 8 pm on WTTW11 in Chicago and WHYY-TV in Philadelphia and 10:30 pm on THIRTEEN in New York, and Friday, April 17 at 8 pm on KERA in Dallas, 8:30 pm on WETA TV 26 in Washington, D.C., and 9 pm on PBS SoCal in Los Angeles, on KQED in San Francisco, on WGBH 2 in Boston and on Houston Public Media.

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Jascha Heifetz: Book Excerpt from Jascha Heifetz: Early Years in Russia: His Carnegie Hall Debut http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/jascha-heifetz/book-excerpt-from-jascha-heifetz-early-years-in-russia-his-carnegie-hall-debut/3847/ http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/jascha-heifetz/book-excerpt-from-jascha-heifetz-early-years-in-russia-his-carnegie-hall-debut/3847/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 20:34:05 +0000 knightc http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/?p=3847 Jascha Heifetz: Early Years in Russia, by Galina Kopytova. Translated and edited by Dario Sarlo and Alexandra Sarlo. Indiana University Press, 2014.

Jascha Heifetz: Early Years in Russia, by Galina Kopytova. Translated and edited by Dario Sarlo and Alexandra Sarlo. Indiana University Press, 2014. 504 pages.

Sixteen-year-old Jascha Heifetz’s American debut, Carnegie Hall, October 27, 1917

Book excerpt courtesy of Indiana University Press. All rights reserved.

On the day of Jascha’s American concert debut, people filed into the building until they were turned away: “The audience that witnessed the debut at Carnegie Hall Saturday afternoon was not only very large,” wrote Pitts Sanborn in the Commercial Advertiser and Globe, “but notable for the number of professional violinists it included—apparently every disengaged man and woman in town that ever drew a bow for money.”

According to a report in the Violinist journal, the many prominent violinists present at the debut included: Fritz Kreisler, Mischa Elman, Maud Powell, Franz Kneisel, Sam Gardner, David Hochstein, David Manner, Nathan Franko, Albert Greenfeld, Leopold Lichtenberg, Geraldine Morgan, Louis Siegel, Sam Franko, Gustave Saenger, Emily Gresser, Edith Rubel, Edwin Grasse, Helen Ware, Maurice Kaufman, and Victor Kuzdo.

With such an intense atmosphere developing in the auditorium, Jascha’s experienced pianist, André Benoist, began to feel a little nervous: “no matter how inured one may be to such occasions, it is almost impossible to remain entirely indifferent to them. I must confess that, in spite of many experiences of the same kind, I felt a bit aflutter myself.” It seems, however, that Jascha did not share the feeling of nervousness. As Benoist recalled: “When I reached the old Green Room at the hall, I found Mama and Papa Heifetz sitting about, as calm and unconcerned as if they were about to witness a Christmas party. As for Jascha, he ran up to me in high glee and said, ‘Look! Look! Fine long pants! Fine cutaway coat! Fine new necktie! I look fine, no?”

When the time came, Jascha walked out onto the stage to face an electrified public, and a deafening wave of applause broke out all around. As a reviewer in The World noted: “Some measure of the advance estimate in which this Russian youth is held was shown when he first appeared before his anxious throng. No sooner was he sighted than a wave of applause sounded through the big auditorium: a greeting so spontaneous, so sincere as to cause the seasoned concertgoers to exclaim involuntarily.” Jascha started with the Vitali Chaconne, with organ accompaniment provided by Frank L. Sealy, and as one reviewer noted, “long before the completion of the Vitali Chaconne it was apparent that a master violinist superlatively endowed had come to disclose the measure of his worth.” After each subsequent piece, the delight and excitement in the audience continued to grow. Jascha then played the Wieniawski Concerto no. 2, Schubert’s Ave Maria, Mozart’s Minuet, Chopin’s Nocturne in D, the Beethoven Chorus of Dervishes and March Orientale, Tchaikovsky’s Melodie, and the Paganini Caprice no. 24. Another reviewer noted that “this boy was establishing new violin marks; that in every department of his art he was the superior of any fiddler this country has known in at least fifteen years.” It was at this debut that a very well-known anecdote between a famous violinist and pianist came to life: “It’s hot here, isn’t it?” said Mischa Elman to Leopold Godowsky, who was sitting in the same box. “No, Mischa. Not for pianists,” Godowsky quickly responded.

The calm and unconcerned behavior of Jascha’s parents before the debut attested to the unwavering faith they had in their young son’s incredible talent. After all, they had seen and heard him conquer every stage on which he had set foot, throughout the Russian Empire and Europe. Just as elsewhere, the crowd in Carnegie Hall cheered and applauded and rushed the stage at the end of the recital. In this sense, Carnegie Hall was just one more venue to add to the burgeoning list of accomplishments in Jascha’s career. His overwhelming success on October 27, 1917, however, provided him a special place in the hearts and minds of the American public, and ultimately resulted in the family’s decision to remain in the United States. Political circumstances far out of their control had led the Heifetzes to make the epic journey to New York, leaving behind the country that had raised Jascha and contributed to the formation of his musical character. With years of preparation behind him, Jascha was ready for this next stage of his life.

Certainly, this move was not easy for Jascha. He left behind the country that had been his home, and he left behind many friends: people from the conservatory, including Glazunov, who had facilitated the family’s stay in St. Petersburg-Petrograd; Viktor Valter, his constant supporter; beloved Professor Auer, the man responsible for Jascha’s artistic training; and Kiselgof, who had worked tirelessly to broaden Jascha’s education. The Heifetzes also left behind the Sharfsteins, who would eventually join the Heifetzes in the United States, but not for another five years. Others in the wider Heifetz family ended up staying in Russia, including Natan and Fanny and their daughter Lyusya, Ruvin’s other siblings, and Jascha’s grandparents. Some of these people Jascha would never see again.

Despite the sacrifices, if Jascha and his parents needed proof that they had made the right choice, back in Petrograd, just days after the debut in New York, the Bolsheviks seized power in the October Revolution (on November 7 in New York City, but October 25 in Petrograd). A lengthy and brutal civil war ensued. No one in Russia knew how and when the situation would end. The Heifetzes, at least, were safe in the New World.
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The one-hour documentary American Masters — Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler premieres nationwide Thursday, April 16 at 8 p.m. and Friday, April 17 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

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Jascha Heifetz: Heifetz Concerts for 1923 Japan Earthquake Victims http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/jascha-heifetz/heifetz-concerts-for-1923-japan-earthquake-victims/3843/ http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/jascha-heifetz/heifetz-concerts-for-1923-japan-earthquake-victims/3843/#comments Fri, 10 Apr 2015 20:27:36 +0000 knightc http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/?p=3843 (View full post to see video)
Jascha Heifetz traveled to Japan in the fall of 1923, weeks after the earthquake on September 1 that devastated Tokyo, Yokohama and the Kanto region, with casualties near 143,000. He gave outdoor performances there and also gave benefit concerts to benefit Japan. He was a forerunner among musicians to do relief work. In this film outtake, see Heifetz’ own film footage of traveling in Japan in October 1923.

The one-hour documentary American Masters — Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler premieres nationwide Thursday, April 16 at 8 p.m. and Friday, April 17 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

Major market premieres include Thursday, April 16 at 8 pm on WTTW11 in Chicago and WHYY-TV in Philadelphia and 10:30 pm on THIRTEEN in New York, and Friday, April 17 at 8 pm on KERA in Dallas, 8:30 pm on WETA TV 26 in Washington, D.C., and 9 pm on PBS SoCal in Los Angeles, on KQED in San Francisco, on WGBH 2 in Boston and on Houston Public Media.

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Jascha Heifetz: Music from the Film: Heifetz Recordings http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/jascha-heifetz/music-from-the-film-heifetz-recordings/3835/ http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/jascha-heifetz/music-from-the-film-heifetz-recordings/3835/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 19:39:28 +0000 knightc http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/?p=3835 Jascha Heifetz-1970_credit-RCA

Music from Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler

To serenade you for 84 minutes, American Masters has created a playlist of 21 recordings by Jascha Heifetz, all of which are among the compositions heard in the film Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler. Hear music by Debussy, Paganini, Prokofiev, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Wieniawski, Schubert, Saint-Saëns, Dvořák and more.

A note to the user: you’ll have to sign up for a Spotify account to listen, but it’s a free service.

American Masters – Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler premieres nationwide Thursday, April 16 at 8 p.m. and Friday, April 17 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

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Jascha Heifetz: Jascha Heifetz Lives the Good Life http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/jascha-heifetz/jascha-heifetz-lives-the-good-life/3833/ http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/jascha-heifetz/jascha-heifetz-lives-the-good-life/3833/#comments Mon, 06 Apr 2015 18:17:17 +0000 knightc http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/?p=3833 View full post to see video)

“After I came to America, my one aim, it seems, was to enjoy myself,” said the violinist whose fame grew with his Carnegie Hall debut and first audio recordings made in 1917. Jascha Heifetz (b. 1901) bought a large home in Narragansett, a car, and camera equipment with which he pursued his beloved hobby of filmmaking. In his early 20s, he allowed himself to socialize and have fun, something that was lacking in his childhood.

The one-hour documentary American Masters — Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler premieres nationwide Thursday, April 16 at 8 p.m. and Friday, April 17 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

Major market premieres include Thursday, April 16 at 8 pm on WTTW11 in Chicago and WHYY-TV in Philadelphia and 10:30 pm on THIRTEEN in New York, and Friday, April 17 at 8 pm on KERA in Dallas, 8:30 pm on WETA TV 26 in Washington, D.C., and 9 pm on PBS SoCal in Los Angeles, on KQED in San Francisco, on WGBH 2 in Boston and on Houston Public Media.

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Jascha Heifetz: Patriotic Service During World War II http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/jascha-heifetz/patriotic-service-during-world-war-ii/3828/ http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/jascha-heifetz/patriotic-service-during-world-war-ii/3828/#comments Fri, 03 Apr 2015 15:27:48 +0000 knightc http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/?p=3828 (View full post to see video)
In this excerpt from Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler, Ayke Agus, Heifetz’ student, accompanist and companion, describes his daily ritual of raising the U.S. flag and what he considered one of his greatest performances — a concert for a single soldier during World War II. Pianist Seymour Lipkin, who accompanied Heifetz on U.S. base tours, describes how seriously Heifetz these performances as we see photos of Heifetz playing for U.S. troops.

In 1941 the Jascha Heifetz, a naturalized citizen of the U.S. since 1925, began using his talent to contribute to the Allied World War II efforts. The famous violinist gave benefit concerts for British War Relief and Russian War Relief, and participated in a radio broadcast sponsored by the U.S. Treasury to support the sale of Defense Bonds. In 1942 he gave USO concerts at military camps throughout the United States and from 1943 through 1945, toured military bases for the USO in Central and South America and Europe. On Victory Day in Europe, May 8, 1945, he gave a concert in Beckum, Germany.

The one-hour documentary American Masters — Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler premieres nationwide Thursday, April 16 at 8 p.m. and Friday, April 17 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).

Major market premieres include Thursday, April 16 at 8 pm on WTTW11 in Chicago and WHYY-TV in Philadelphia and 10:30 pm on THIRTEEN in New York, and Friday, April 17 at 8 pm on KERA in Dallas, 8:30 pm on WETA TV 26 in Washington, D.C., and 9 pm on PBS SoCal in Los Angeles, on KQED in San Francisco, on WGBH 2 in Boston and on Houston Public Media.

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