Huberman, Bronislaw

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HUBERMAN, BRONISLAW (1882–1947), violinist and founder of the *Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Born in Czestochowa, Poland, Huberman was a child prodigy in Warsaw. At the age of 10, he played before the emperor Francis Joseph in Vienna and for the violinist Joseph *Joachim in Berlin. In 1893 he began playing in the main cities of Europe. An appearance with the famous soprano Adelina Patti led to many other engagements, and in 1896 he played the Brahms violin concerto in the presence of the composer. From then on Huberman was a celebrity. He played on Paganini's violin in Genoa in 1908 and was a frequent soloist in the concert halls of Germany. When the Nazis introduced their measures against Jews in 1933, the German conductor Furtwaengler nevertheless invited Huberman to appear with him. Huberman refused and later gave his reasons in the English newspaper the Manchester Guardian, accusing the German intellectuals of having silently acquiesced in the actions of the Nazis.

Huberman made several appearances in Palestine and in 1936 assembled in Tel Aviv a number of experienced refugee musicians, raised the financial backing, and founded the Palestine Orchestra (later the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra). He thus created the basis for a full-fledged concert life in Israel. Arturo Toscanini agreed to conduct the opening concerts in December 1936, and the orchestra immediately acquired international standing. In October 1937, Huberman suffered a serious hand injury in a plane accident over Sumatra. It was not until late in 1938 that he was able to play with his orchestra, and he saw it for the last time in 1940. War and travel difficulties prevented him from visiting Palestine again. In 1946 he sustained a fall which necessitated a delicate operation. He died in Switzerland while preparing for further concert appearances.

Huberman used his great technique not merely for display. He made it the means of evoking musical significance through personal expression. He wrote on problems of the violin virtuoso, and also on political matters. Between the two world wars he was active on behalf of the Pan-Europa movement. His papers and his musical estate were given to the Central Music Library in Tel Aviv.


mgg; Riemann-Gurlitt; Grove's Dict; An Orchestra Is Born, a Monument to Bronislaw Huberman (compiled by I. Ibbeken, 1969).

[Uri (Erich) Toeplitz]

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