Biography

Early years / Patti’s farewell / Viennese triumph / Brahms listens / America 1896 / Paganini’s violin / Marriage / World War I / America 1921 / Europe 1925 / Political tension / Riots in Vienna / Stolen Strad / Palestine / World War II / Liberation

Brahms listens

Success continued the next season, when Huberman played in four concerts in Vienna in January 1896. Dvorak heard the boy play and presented him with an autograph “In friendly remembrance of the little, though great artist.” By the end of January excitement was so intense, everybody of musical significance in the city had heard of the Huberman phenomena. For the 29 January concert at the GroßeMusikvereinssaal Huberman was to play the Brahms concerto. The audience that night contained such celebrities as Gustav Mahler, Anton Bruckner, Alfred Grünfeld, Hans Richter, Eduard Hanslick, Count Hohenlowe, Karl Goldmark, Ferdinand Löwe, Eusebius Mandyczewski, Johann Strauss, and the composer himself, Johannes Brahms.

Brahms was expecting to hear a student like performance of the work. In the words of his biographer, Max Kalbeck:

“As soon as Brahms heard the sound of the violin, he pricked up his ears, during the Andante he wiped his eyes, and after the Finale he went into the green room, embraced the young fellow, and stroked his cheeks. When Huberman complained that the public applauded after the cadenza, breaking into the lovely Cantilena, Brahms replied, ‘You should not have played the cadenza so beautifully.’ ”

Brahms brought him a photo of his, with the inscription “To Bronislaw Huberman so that he may kindly remember Vienna, February 1896, and his grateful listener J. Brahms.” The musical quotation is the opening of the slow movement of the concerto. Hanslick wrote “In the face of such transcendent genius, criticism as such ceases,” and Schwarz tells us that the composer Carl Goldmark entered into Huberman’s album, “Now I begin to believe in the wonders of the Bible.”

In May he performed before Carmen Sylva, Queen Elizabeth of Romania (1843 - 1916) who gave him a poem she had written in his honour.

Brahms, 1895

Musikvereinssaal, 29 Jan 1896

Brahms’ dedication to Huberman, 31 Jan 1896

Brahms’ inscription to Huberman, 1 Feb 1896


Bronislaw Huberman performs the Brahms violin concerto at
the GroßeMusikvereinssaal, Vienna, 29 January, 1896.
(Silhouette by Otto Böhler)
1. Johannes Brahms, 2. Hans Richter
3. Eusebius Mandyczewski, 4. Alfred Grünfeld,
5. Johann Strauss, 6. Gustav Mahler
7. Eduard Hanslick, 8. Count Hohenlowe
9. Anton Bruckner, 10. Ferdinand Löwe

Top photo: Huberman in America, Dec 1896