American Masters (2015 Season) – Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler

Production Biographies

Air date: 04/16/2015

American Masters – Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler


Premieres nationwide Thursday, April 16 at 8 p.m. and Friday, April 17 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings)


Production Biographies


Peter Rosen

Director and Producer

Peter Rosen has produced and directed over 100 full-length films and television programs which have been distributed worldwide and have won awards at all the major film festivals. He has worked directly with some of the most important figures in the arts such as Leonard Bernstein, Yo-Yo Ma, Beverly Sills, Sherrill Milnes, Stephen Sondheim, Alexander Godunov, Midori, Martha Graham, Placido Domingo, Van Cliburn, Claudio Arrau, Byron Janis, I. M. Pei and Garrison Keillor.

He won the prestigious Directors Guild of America (DGA) Award in 1990 for his production Here to Make Music: The Eighth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The show also won a Primetime Emmy Award in 1990, and was called “enriching and inspiring” by New York Daily News. He was again nominated for the DGA Award in 1998 for his film, First Person Singular: I. M. Pei. The Cliburn: Playing on the Edge, with KERA/PBS, sponsored by ExxonMobil, won the prestigious Peabody Award in 2001.

In production for 2015-2016 are the feature films Bad Boy of the Art World on American artist Larry Rivers ( 1923-2002 ), American Masters — Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future, sponsored by a major grant from A. Alfred Taubman, and The Poetic Billionaire on American composer Gordon Getty, the son of J. Paul Getty.

Recent international primetime broadcasts and films distributed theatrically from 2005-2013 include Touching the Sound, a feature length documentary about the young blind Japanese pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii; 50 Years of Gold (PBS), celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Van Cliburn Piano Competition; and Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler, which had a limited theatrical run in New York City and screened at film festivals, winning the Echo Klassik Award, Japanese Record Academy Award, and the Audience Award at the San Diego Film Festival. Nobuyuki Tsujii Live at Carnegie Hall was released on Blu-Ray and DVD and selected as Recording of the Month in Gramophone Magazine.

Additional national primetime broadcasts of Rosen’s films include A Surprise in Texas, on the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, The Byron Janis Story, on the pianist’s battle against crippling arthritis, American Masters — Garrison Keillor: The Man on the Radio in the Red Shoes, Shadows in Paradise, on Europe’s musical exiles who fled Hitler for Southern California, In the Key of G: The Gilmore International Keyboard Festival for PBS, Master of the House, a film broadcast on PBS as part of the Metropolitan Opera’s tribute to Joseph Volpe, A Workshop for Peace, an hour-long documentary commissioned by the United Nations on its 60th anniversary, Great Conversations in Music, commissioned by the Library of Congress, Who Gets to Call it Art?, a feature-length documentary on curator Henry Geldzahler released in theatres and broadcast on the Sundance Channel, and the six-part PBS series Concerto, hosted by conductor James Conlon.

In the 2003-2004 television season, Rosen produced and directed the feature-length documentary Khachaturian about the Russian-Armenian composer on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth. Shown in theatres and on television worldwide, the film won the Best Documentary Award at the Hollywood Film Festival. The Hollywood Bowl: Music Under the Stars was a co-production with WDR German Television for KCET/PBS. A Thousand Years of Music and Spirit, taped in Krakow, and Once Upon a Sleigh Ride, a documentary on American composer Leroy Anderson, both aired on PBS.

Highlights of previous television seasons include Enrico Caruso: Voice of the Century and The Museum on the Mountain, on I. M. Pei’s new Miho Museum in Kyoto. This program won the Gold Medal at the 1998 New York Film and Television Festival. Midori Live at Carnegie Hall for Sony Music aired on A&E. If I Were A Rich Man, a portrait of Jan Peerce, and Playing for Peace, a 60 minute documentary about Middle East peace, both aired nationally on PBS.

Rosen’s earlier productions include Carnegie Hall at 100: A Place of Dreams (PBS), Omnibus (ABC 1986), hosted by Beverly Sills, Papazian Live (A&E) from Carnegie Hall, Van Cliburn, Concert Pianist (A&E’s Biography series), six-part music series Encore! (PBS) and The Golden Age of the Piano, which won the New York Emmy for Best Cultural Program, made for Philips Classics.

Additional programs in the performing arts include A Musical Offering from the Vatican (PBS), Dewar’s Profiles Performing Arts Awards (Bravo), the five-part PBS series on pianist Claudio Arrau, Toscanini: The Maestro (1988) for Great Performances (PBS), Rubinstein Remembered, a 100th birthday celebration of pianist Arthur Rubinstein, hosted by his son John Rubinstein and shot in Poland for American Masters, Godunov: The World to Dance In (PBS 1985, Metromedia 1986), a portrait of ballet star Alexander Godunov, and Leonard Bernstein Reflections (BBC), which won the 2010 Gramophone Award for best DVD release.

Rosen earned a B.Arch. from Cornell University, a B.F.A. and M.F.A. from Yale University. He served at Yale University as a fellow at Trumbull College and an instructor in the art department.


Michael Kantor

American Masters Series Executive Producer

For more than two decades, award-winning filmmaker Michael Kantor has created outstanding arts programs for television. He joined American Masters as the series’ executive producer April 30, 2014.

His most recent PBS documentary series, Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, hosted by Liev Schreiber, premiered in fall 2013 and was nominated for an Emmy Award. Random House published the companion book. In January 2013, Kantor’s Peabody Award-winning, 90-minute film, Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy, aired as part of the Great Performances series on PBS. Narrated by Joel Grey, it included performances by Matthew Broderick, Kelli O’Hara, David Hyde Pierce, Marc Shaiman and many other Broadway talents. In 2012, Kantor produced The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater with Michael Tilson Thomas, which aired on PBS and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy. Kantor served as executive producer of the 90-minute special Give Me the Banjo, hosted by Steve Martin, and created Make ‘Em Laugh: The Funny Business of America, the critically acclaimed six-part documentary series, hosted by Billy Crystal, that debuted in January 2009. His script for episode four, When I’m Bad, I’m Better: The Groundbreakers, co-authored with Laurence Maslon, was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. His landmark six-part series Broadway: The American Musical was hosted by Julie Andrews and honored with the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Nonfiction Series in 2005. That same year, he created three hours of DVD extras for 20th Century Fox’s 40th anniversary release of The Sound of Music.

Kantor wrote, directed and produced the award-winning profile American Masters: Quincy Jones: In the Pocket. With Stephen Ives, he co-directed Cornerstone: An Interstate Adventure for HBO, and produced The West (Executive Producer Ken Burns). His 20 years of work in documentaries include projects as varied as EGG: the arts show, Coney Island, The Donner Party, Margaret Sanger and Ric Burns’ New York series. As a writer, Kantor created Lullaby of Broadway: Opening Night on 42nd Street, co-authored the companion books to Broadway (Bulfinch) and Make ‘Em Laugh (Grand Central Publishing) and has published numerous essays and articles. He is president of Almo Inc., a company that distributes The American Film Theatre series, which includes Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance (starring Katharine Hepburn), Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh (Lee Marvin) and Chekhov’s Three Sisters (Laurence Olivier) among its titles. Kantor has served as a Tony nominator and teaches documentary filmmaking at the School for Visual Arts in New York City.