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The greatest violinist takes up the accordion

We entertained you yesterday with a cameo on the squeezebox by Denis Matsuev, one of the foremost living Russian pianists.

But what’s this come crawling out of the archives overnight (courtesy of the eminent historian David Schoenbaum).

Only the greatest violinist that ever lived, going back to his first instrument. All together now: it’s…. Jascha!


Heifetz undated 


schoenbaum the violin

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  1. Norman, great photograph! Apparently, “Mr. H” used to take his accordion out on his boat and would play for anyone and everyone passing by (no ticket required!).

    There was an amusing article about Heifetz and his accordion in the Nov. 1936 issue of that oh-so-prominent publication, Accordion World. Here’s the text:

    THE EMINENT VIOLINIST, JASCHA HEIFETZ, is shown in the above photograph, apparently taking his accordion very seriously. It has become now, not a fad, but a matter of real interest with some of our most prominent musicians in other fields, to take to their bosom our beloved instrument.

    Mr Heifetz is studying the accordion and may soon surprise some of our best players.

    A few years ago a photograph like this would have appeared preposterous. Today our symphony orchestras are accepting the accordion one by one. Three or four of our universities are already admitting the instrument and giving credit for it. A great may of our high schools have their own accordion bands. Our great name orchestras are not only including but featuring the accordion. And now our greatest musicians are taking it up. That is progress.

    You might be interested to see the Heifetz childhood biography we are publishing in November with Indiana University Press.

    Keep up the fantastic work!

  2. Robert Swan says:

    Now I know who is the greatest accordion player ever!

  3. Bob Burns says:

    I wonder if he knew “Lady of Spain.”

    As they say around here: “Play an accordion…go to jail.”

  4. Can two instruments be so different, I take my hat off to you sir.

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