He began at age four.
Parental memory here is precise: not "at around four," but "at age four." In the first photo we still notice to a certain extent a particular stiffness that is characteristic of first steps but, you must imagine, it quickly disappeared and success was so indisputable that for his first grade the boy headed off not just anywhere but to the Riga special musical school.
In his second year, he already traveled to Moscow to represent the school, at the Central Musical School, as Eleonora Testelets recalls. How that might have looked at the time we can see from a photo with a pianist: there is no longer anything forced; to conduct oneself with a violin in such an artistic and yet such masterful manner is possible, as Auer expressed it, only for someone "made of the material of virtuosos."