Cover image for Heifetz as I knew him
Heifetz as I knew him
Agus, Ayke.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Portland, Or. : Amadeus Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
260 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML418.H44 A68 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Ayke Agus came to Jascha Heifetz as a violin student in his master class at the University of Southern California; after he made her the class pianist she soon became his private accompanist and ultimately his assistant and confidante. Her book is a loving yet unblinking testimony to a unique relationship between an aging master and his disciple. Always a difficult person, Heifetz imparted not only his art but his every belief and idiosyncrasy. The greatest violinist of the 20th century was a genius who was also insecure and unreasonable; in many respects the former prodigy had never had to grow up. This memoir is an extraordinary story of a truly unique friendship, told with honesty, understanding, and devotion.

Author Notes

Ayke Agus was born in Indonesia of Dutch, Chinese, and Javanese ancestry. She began piano and violin studies at an early age and remembers having listened to records by Jascha Heifetz from her infancy. She concertized throughout Indonesia as a violin prodigy, then came to the United States on a violin scholarship and sought out her hero. Agus continues to perform on both violin and at the piano and plays with several orchestras. She has recorded several compact disks of Heifetz's transcriptions

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Remarkably, there is no up-to-date biography of the preeminent violinist Jascha Heifetz (1901-1986), so this nicely written and perceptive account of the 15 years Agus spent with him at the end of his life will have to fill the gap for now. Agus, a young Indonesian woman who, as a violin student in her native land, had been brought up on the virtuoso's recordings, applied for the master classes Heifetz conducted at the University of Southern California upon her arrival there at the end of the 1960s. Recognizing her excellent piano skills and highly accommodating nature, Heifetz decided to take her on as his accompanist and general factotum for the rest of his life (he died in 1986, sick, lonely and virtually forgotten). Agus gives a fascinating account of Heifetz's remarkable and rather chilling personality: a complete control freak, he would accept no excuses for less than perfection; he despised new ways of doing things; and he kept even close friends off-balance with sudden mood swings, silly practical jokes and unkind remarks. Agus, brought up to be self-denying, was endlessly patient and forgiving with him, but one of the fascinations of the book is seeing her gradually learn to cope with him as an equal. His penetrating musicality and the whole process of musical pedagogy, as well as the intricacies of accompaniment, are revealed with exemplary clarity. The great merit of her patient scrutiny is that Heifetz eventually comes to seem strangely admirable, if frequently wrongheaded and bizarrely eccentric, and Agus's solitary death is thus more affecting than one would expect. Illus. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

A Message to the Readerp. 9
Acknowledgmentsp. 11
1 Fanfarep. 13
2 Overturep. 19
3 Recitativo Accompagnatop. 29
4 Expositionp. 45
5 Intermezzop. 71
6 Preludium and Fuguep. 99
7 Passageworkp. 113
8 Developmentp. 131
9 Musica Disciplinap. 147
10 Sinfonia Domesticap. 169
11 Theme and Variationsp. 185
12 Dies Iraep. 203
13 Threnodyp. 223
14 Postludiump. 239
Selected Sourcesp. 247
Works by Jascha Heifetzp. 251