Eva Heinitz

Eva Heinitz was Professor Emeritus of Cello at the University of Washington, well-known around the world as an inspirational teacher, and performer. She 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. When only fifteen 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 she 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 humerous answer was, "Relatively well."

Heinitz was a self-taught gambist, and became so proficient that she was known as the 'Wanda Landowska of the Viola da Gamba.' She insisted than no one knew how people performed 200 years ago, and that it was difficult to know how to imitate the actual baroque style, and so she did not hesitate to place an endpin in her gamba, at the suggestion of Paul Hindemith, famous composer and violist. She played the Bach "Passion" as solo gambist with both Wilhelm Furtwangler and Otto Klemperer, and was considered to be a Bach authority.

In 1933, when Adolf Hitler and the Nazis came to power, Heinitz, half-Jewish, left Berlin settled 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 technique has improved since his time, and that modern musical style would no longer be agreeable to Casals, and vice versa.

When Artur Schnabel, the great pianist, invited her to play in the 1939 "New Friends of Music" series at Town Hall in New York, she moved to the United States and five years later became a naturalized citizen.

Heinitz 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 then joined the faculty of the University of Washington, performing in the UW string quartet, and teaching for 28 years. In 1994 she donated her 1700 Goffriller cello to the the University of Indiana; and the ensuing sale of her instrument provided the seed money for the Eva Heinitz Scholarship Fund. The scholarship is awarded annually to cello students at the IU school of music.

Eva Heinitz passed away in April of 2001, at the age of 94

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