There have been many great classical violinists in the past, but few have achieved the fame of Jascha Heifetz. His use of rapid vibrato and emotionally charged fast tempos, together with exquisite control over his instrument helped to make his music distinctive, exciting, and brilliant.
A child prodigy, he began making phonograph recordings in Russia when he was only 9 years old. These early recordings are quite rare. On October 27, 1917, at the age of 16 he made his NYC debut in Carnegie Hall. Shortly thereafter he began recording for the Victor Talking Machine Company and later RCA Victor. The Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University Libraries has created four audio albums consisting of 32 of these Victor recordings produced between 1917 and 1922. This vintage collection of music originally recorded on 78 rpm discs was digitized and compiled by The Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University Libraries. These albums are not available for sale or reproduction but can be heard in their entirety on the JSA website.
Heifetz was often a controversial figure. He was attacked in Israel in 1953 because he insisted on including the works of Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner in his repertoire despite the strong sentiment at the time that they were Nazis. On the other hand, he was a strong critic of the Soviet Union and was considered to be a defector by other Russian musicians.