Jascha Heifetz was a Jewish-Lithuanian musician who is regarded by many as the greatest violinist of the twentieth century. In 1903, Heifetz began to play at the age of three. By age 11, he was a child prodigy who had performed professionally to crowds of more than 25,000 people. After further training in St. Petersburg, Haifetz eventually emigrated to the United States to escape the Russian Revolution.
His first American performance was in 1917 at Carnegie Hall when he was only 17. It made him an instant sensation. He continued to perform throughout the world and by 1925, had settled in Beverly Hills as a U.S. Citizen.
Heifetz's playing was admired for its tone, accuracy and sheer speed. Some detractors criticized his interpretations for lacking a character or expressiveness while others praised him for his commitment to the composers' intentions.
After nearly seventy years of performance and a prolific recording career, Haifetz retired to teach in 1972. He held positions at both UCLA and USC and also gave private lessons in his home.
He died in 1987 in Los Angeles.