Eva Heinitz, born in Berlin in 1907, is Professor Emeritus of Cello at the University of Washington, well-known around the world as a wonderful teacher, and performer. She has performed in solo and chamber music concerts throughout Europe and North and South America, appearing as soloist with the Chicago, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Vancouver Symphonies.
Born in Berlin in 1907, she grew up in one of the greatest musical centers of our century. Music was a large part of her childhood, when she was able to observe and hear Erich Kleiber, Furtwangler, Klemperer, Bruno Walter, and George Szell conducting the Berlin Philharmonic or the State Opera. Her father was a successful lawyer and amateur pianist. He loved chamber music, and sometimes hired violinists and cellists to come to his elegant 12-room apartment, with the large Steinway piano.
From her earliest years Heinitz knew she would be a musician, and a cellist in particular. At 15 years old, she was admitted to the Berlin State Academy of Music, where she studied with Hugo Becker, one of the famous teachers of Europe of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Heinitz said later that she really did not care for many of Becker's cello techniques, considering them to be very unnatural. It was also in Berlin where he played chamber music with Einstein, whom she considered a great man, though not a great violinist. Piatigorsky was once asked by Einstein how he had played. Piatigorsky's dry answer was, "Relatively well."
Heinitz successfully taught herself the viola da gamba, and became known as the 'Wanda Landowska of the Viola da Gamba.' In defiance of today's purists, she had an endpin placed in her gamba (actually a suggestion from Paul Hindemith, famous composer and violist. She played the Bach "Passions" as solo gambist with both Wilhelm Furtwangler and Otto Klemperer.
In 1933, Hitler came to power. Heinitz was half-Jewish, and left Berlin to settle as a refugee in Paris. There she studied with Casal's assistant and partner in teaching, Diran Alexanian. Heinitz agrees that all cellists of the modern age owe a debt to Casals, but believes that cello performance has improved since his time, and that our musical tastes and styles would no longer agree with Casals.
Artur Schnabel, the great pianist, invited her to play in the 1939 "New Friends of Music" series at Town Hall in New York. So she moved to the United States and five years later became a naturalized citizen.
She joined the Pittsburgh Symphony under Fritz Reiner as assistant principal. Reiner would never allow her to advance to principal because she was a woman. However, it was often she, and not the principal, that was chosen by Reiner to play chamber music with visiting soloists, such as Heifetz, Menuhin, Milstein, Szigeti, and Stern. She is considered to be an authority on Bach by many professional musicians.
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