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12 Summer-Fall 1913: Loschwitz

Galina Kopytova Indiana University Press ePub

JASCHA HEIFETZ SPENT THE SUMMER of 1913 with Leopold Auer in Germany, for what was the first in a series of summer vacations spent with his professor. For many years, Auer had spent his summers in England, but in 1912 he began to vacation in Loschwitz, a charming suburb of Dresden. Auer wrote warmly of these vacations: “Loschwitz was a delightful village flanked by a green hill on the bank of the Elbe. On one side we had a view of Dresden, on the other we could look out toward the green mountains ofthe Saxon Alps.”1 Spread along both banks ofthe Elbe, Dresden was known as the “German Florence”; its world-famous gallery housed a collection of paintings by great Flemish and Italian artists. Tourists traveled great distances to visit the city. Other attractions included Zwinger Palace, Dresden Castle, and several museums. Located just two miles from Dresden, Loschwitz was one of many resorts located in the valley and was surrounded by deep picturesque gorges, green forests, and mountain streams.

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1 Early Roots of the Heifetz Family

Galina Kopytova Indiana University Press ePub

THE HEIFETZ FAMILY TREE includes over one hundred people across five generations and family members who now reside in the United States, Australia, Israel, Latvia, and Russia. The oldest Heifetz name preserved in family memory is that of Ilya (or Elye), Jascha’s paternal grandfather, who was born around 1830. Two photographs of Ilya survive in the personal records of his descendants; one is an individual portrait, and the other a group photograph featuring Ilya, surrounded by his children and grandchildren. With one photograph now located in Russia and the other in the United States, these two unique, symbolic documents unite the Heifetz clan across the world.

According to family legend, Ilya Heifetz worked as a teacher (melamed) in a Jewish boys’ school (cheder) and lived with his large family in Polotsk, a provincial city in the western Russian province (guberniya) of Vitebsk, which is now part of Belarus. The surviving family group photograph dates from the late 1890s, when Ilya was well over sixty and his wife, Feyga, was no longer alive. An earlier photograph from the 1870s shows Jascha’s father, Ruvin, as a child, with his mother and grandmother, and is stamped, “Novo-Alexandria (Poulavy).”1 Novo-Alexandria was the name of a settlement in the Lublin province located on the bank of the Vistula (Wisła) River, seventy-five miles from Warsaw. Formerly known as Puławy, the city was renamed Novo-Alexandria in 1846 after a visit by Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, wife of Tsar Nicholas I. It functioned as an important trade center between Russia, Austria, and the Baltic region, and reverted to its former name, Puławy, in 1918. By the end of the nineteenth century, Novo-Alexandria had experienced a large influx of Jewish settlers; about 2,500 of its 3,500 residents were Jewish.

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15 Summer-Fall 1914: War

Galina Kopytova Indiana University Press ePub

AUER’S SUMMER TEACHING SEASON in Loschwitz began early that year and students flocked there from all over Russia. The Heifetzes arrived in May and sent a postcard to Kiselgof. On Sunday, June 1 (NS June 14) he answered them from St. Petersburg:

I received your letter and was very, very glad. But I’m still in stuffy and dusty Piter and I’m not getting out of here until Wednesday. How horrible! But I’m glad for you, my friends, that you are already there, in a cultured, clean country, and are enjoying the beautiful nature and pleasant surroundings. I was in Pavlovsk again, but did not ride my bike—I was too lazy. I saw Achronchik [Isidor Achron] and passed along your greetings. He very much regrets that he did not see you at the station. Now I will wait from Vitebsk for your letter (Generalnaya, d. 3). From there I will write in more detail. Let me know your permanent address.1

Kiselgof sent the postcard to the home of Dorothea Grosse in Dresden since she knew how to contact the Heifetzes that summer. Conveniently, Jascha and his family stayed at the same residence as the previous year: Kurhaus “Neue Rochwitz,” 8 Hauptstrasse, Bergschlösschen. Having already spent a summer in Loschwitz, the Heifetzes quickly settled into the routine of lessons, forest walks, tennis matches, and trips to the Russian library in Dresden. Meanwhile, Jascha was never separated from his beloved Leica camera.

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6 Summer 1911: Concerts in Pavlovsk and Odessa

Galina Kopytova Indiana University Press ePub

THE HEIFETZES SPENT THEIR SUMMER vacation at a dacha in Antakalnis, one of the twenty-six suburbs of Vilnius and a popular area during the summer. A local guidebook from the period described it as follows: “Heading along the bank of the Viliya to the Church of St. Peter and Paul, one can stop in the suburb of Antokol which stretches along the Viliya for almost three versts. Scattered hills to the right of the church are covered with beautiful green pine forests. Not far from there is the Sapezhinsky Garden and Palace . . .”1 The Heifetz family stayed at 9 Petropavlovsk Lane, in a house belonging to a man named Pyotr Guryanov.

The Heifetzes were joined by their young cousin Anyuta Sharfstein-Koch during their summer retreat. Some eight decades later in a phone conversation, Sharfstein-Kochremembered fondly her time with the Heifetz siblings in the hills outside Vilnius. Elza showed her the chickens laying eggs and Pauline took her up to Jascha’s room in the house: “He was busy at the table with all these dead butterflies. . . . I said to him, ‘Where did you get all those butterflies?’ And he said he’ll show me. And he went out and he was running with the net after the butterflies. Can you visualize it? Running after butterflies with a net!” Butterfly catching became a widespread and fashionable hobby during the beginning of the century, and one could often find children and adults alike running through the countryside with nets chasing the colorful insects.

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10 1912: A German Tour

Galina Kopytova Indiana University Press ePub

UPON THEIR RETURN from the Latvian coast, the Heifetz family moved from their apartment on Voznesensky Prospekt to building 8-10 Bolshaya Masterskaya Street, a tall corner building facing Torgovaya Street. This was a familiar place for Jascha since it was just across the street from where he had lived with his father two years earlier. The building was new, and some final work on the inside continued for almost a year after the Heifetzes arrived. In one direction the building looked onto the dome of the synagogue, and in the other, beyond the Kryukov Canal, one could see the back of the Mariinsky Theater and also the conservatory, which was just a five-minute stroll along Torgovaya Street. That year, an amusement park with roller coasters, a Ferris wheel, swings, and other attractions opened in the nearby Demidov Gardens on Ofitserskaya Street, but Jascha had little free time for the many temptations. Leading up to important performances, Auer paid special attention to his students and made every effort to help them perfect their concert programs.

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