What’s On TV?: PBS Presents ‘American Masters: Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler’

by Sandi Berg

JASCHAHEIFETZ

Photo credit: Courtesy of Library of Congress

Discover the story of legendary musician Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987), the first truly modern violin virtuoso. Setting the standard in violin playing for nearly a century, Heifetz’ name became shorthand for excellence for everyone from Jack Benny to The Muppets to Woody Allen.

This documentary portrays an artist for whom only perfection would do through vintage performances, master classes and Heifetz’ previously unseen home movies. New interviews include other great violinists influenced by Heifetz, including Itzhak Perlman, Ivry Gitlis and Ida Haendel, former students Ayke Agus and Sherry Kloss, and biographers John Anthony Maltese and Arthur Vered. They reveal how Heifetz was a mysterious, idiosyncratic, solitary figure who embodied the paradox of artistic genius: a dedication to his craft at all costs. Tony-nominated actor Danny Burstein (Boardwalk Empire, Cabaret, Follies) narrates, reading from Heifetz’ personal letters.
The documentary was filmed in Heifetz’ native Vilnius, Lithuania; Saint Petersburg, Russia; and his rebuilt studio in Los Angeles, California, and directed and produced by Emmy- and Peabody-winner Peter Rosen (American Masters — Garrison Keillor: The Man on the Radio in the Red Shoes, The Cliburn: Playing on the Edge).
American Masters: Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler airs Friday At 9 p.m. (check local PBS listings)

Sandi Berg is also a freelance journalist and writes about television for several magazines including Written By (Writer’s Guild of America), Life After 50 and Whole Life Times Magazine.  


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