Not since Paganini had there been such a magician on the violin. We see never-seen-before vintage filmed performance clips and home movies of Jascha Heifetz and learn that he was the first truly modern violin virtuoso, the man about whom Itzhak Perlman said, “When I spoke with him, I thought, ‘I can’t believe I’m talking with God’.” This film portrays an artist for whom only perfection would do. A musical ‚wunderkind’ who went on to set the standards for nearly a century. We get to know through home movies and personal family photos taken from 1903-1987, a prestigious concert artist so well known in popular culture, his name became a shorthand for greatness, for everyone from Jack Benny to The Muppets to Woody Allen. Filmed in Vilna, Lithuania, Saint Petersburg, Russia, and in the Heifetz Studio in Los Angeles, this documentary re-creates a life that spanned the 20th Century, a life that both influenced the period, and was affected by its turbulent times. We hear from all the great violinists of his generation, and from many of his former students who are still alive, that Heifetz was a legendary but mysterious figure whose story embodies the dual nature of artistic genius: the paradox of how a mortal man lives with immortal gifts – gifts he must honor, but which extract a life long price. Is the man and the artist the same person? What is the price each pays? And who was the man behind the music?
Peter Rosen Productions, Inc., in co-production with EuroArts Music, WDR/ARTE