Music: Nathan of Odessa

With two exceptions,* all of today's first-rank violinists are Jews. A good percentage of them are also Russians. And practically all of the Russians (Jascha Heifetz, Mischa Elman, Efrem Zimbalist, etc.) are onetime pupils of crotchety, bearded, Hungarian-Jewish Leopold Auer,† who went to St. Petersburg in 1868 to teach at Czar Alexander II's Imperial Conservatory of Music.

Before Auer went there, great Russian violinists were scarcer than caviar on a peasant's table. By the time he left Europe, in 1919, to spend his declining years at Manhattan's Juilliard School of Music, he...

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