Jewish Book: Saving Myself, a Los Angeles Childhood
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A Jewish Childhood - A Family of Music
Friday, 22 March 2013 21:13

I grew up raised on classical music. Every Saturday my mother and I listened to Metropolitan Opera broadcasts on the Air.

Some Saturdays we would take the bus downtown to Broadway and 5th Street. From there we would walk up to 427 W. Fifth, near Olive. This building was originally known as Clune's Auditorium until 1920 when the Los Angeles Philharmonic moved in. We saw concerts with the Philharmonic and then Musical Comedies such as Kismet with Alfred Drake and Doretta Morrow. I even recall seeing South Pacific.

I grew up playing the violin as my father had before him. The reason for this was that we were first and foremost Heifitz, my father's mother's maiden name. I was proud to be in the Los Angeles Philharmonic All Youth Orchestra and to play at the Hollywood Bowl.

I played the violin in orchestra until I was given an ultimatum when I turned sixteen. In the privacy of my own bedroom and with the small table model radio I purchased with the profits from selling my old Schwinn bicycle, I listened to KGFJ, and to what was called back then ‘race music’.

For those of you younger persons, you may not have heard of Jasha Heifitz, who was called by some, ‘God's Fiddler’. Click here: Jascha Heifetz: God's Fiddler - YouTube

A few years ago, my cousin Michele, who is the Principal Clarinetist with the L.A. Philharmonic, took me to the new campus of the Coburn School, affiliated with USC. Because the powers that be at the school knew her, we were allowed to enter Heifitz's studio, which had been dismantled after Heifitz died in 1987. Originally designed by Lloyd Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright's son in Beverly Hills. It was crated and then six years later it took it's place of honor at the Coburn School, now in downtown Los Angeles. Click here: The Studio |Jascha Heifetz

After violin, I took up guitar, and bought a hand made classical guitar using the violin as a trade. I loved the blues and when I went to college, I played in coffee houses in Los Angeles, singing mostly the blues but some basic folk songs. After all it was the late 50's and that was what was happening all over the country.

Music still informs my life. My radio is still tuned in on Saturdays to the Metropolitan Opera on the air. I still miss the times playing violin or guitar. I have them both, and may one of these days start to play again. In the meantime, I hear music when I write, remember talking with my cousin David when we were in our twenties about music, form and balance and the key to the universe.

Thank you for reading A Jewish Childhood Blog. I'd love to hear from some of you about your early musical experiences. You can reach me through my web site, www.jewishchildhood.com.