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Estrellita, Heifetz’ Encore Song

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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.