chapter  5
10 Pages

Bach’s Solo Works in the Heifetz Repertoire

Something clearly prompted this question. Surveying the 2,368 documented performance events, a remarkable 546 include at least one movement of solo Bach. So, nearly one out of every four concerts, broadcasts, or recordings Heifetz ever played contained some solo Bach. Furthermore, limiting the scope to the 1,578 recitals, 528 of them contained solo Bach, which is closer to one out of three. Of the fifty-five countries in which Heifetz performed (see Appendix vii), fortysix witnessed performances of solo Bach; the other nine places Heifetz visited infrequently. Bach’s solo works formed an integral and significant part of Heifetz’s repertoire, but it is possible to go even further, to state that of his entire repertoire, solo Bach as a set featured more often than any other piece or set of pieces.2 This provides further evidence of Auer’s musical philosophy manifesting itself in Heifetz’s career, since Auer believed that the solo works ‘form the basis of every well-constructed violin programme’.3 Of the concerto performances discussed previously, even the most popular only appeared 180 times in the programmes, significantly less frequently than the 546 instances of solo Bach. For a more appropriate comparison, the number of times Heifetz performed any one of the

public interest might be one of the reasons for the relatively little role of the [Bach] solos in Heifetz’s output’. See Dorottya Fabian and Eitan Ornoy, ‘Identity in Violin Playing on Records: Interpretation Profiles in Recordings of Solo Bach by Early Twentieth-Century Violinists’, Performance Practice Review Online (Claremont Graduate University, 2009), 5.

ten Beethoven Sonatas totalled just over 400. Solo Bach did not feature on every programme, but as demonstrated in table 5.1, the works featured significantly more often than any other repertoire. To make a fair comparison, the table includes sets of compositions such as all Gershwin arrangements, and all the Handel Sonatas.