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

Liberation

After the war he again toured Europe, and then returned to his home near Lake Geneva, where he became ill. After spending six months in a health resort in Italy, he returned to Switzerland where he died on 16 June 1947.

NOTE: This page is not yet finished. The following text is written by Huberman's secretary, Ida Ibbeken.

Switzerland

The day after the concert in Zurich on April 24th, 1946, Huberman returned home to his beautiful, wooded country-seat “Nant” above the Lake of Geneva. Here he hoped to rest after many months of strenuous concert-tours and other activities in America, England and other European countries, to enjoy the exquisite beauty of his property and to prepare for new action.
In America, it had been arranged with friends that he should take over a car which they had left in a garage near Geneva, when the war broke out in 1939, and that he should use it until the friends would come to Switzerland and take their car. – A few days after arrival at “Nant”, Huberman travelled together with a competent mechanic-driver to that village to fetch the car. In spite of the written instruction, the owner of the garage refused to comply, pretending that, in accordance with previous orders, the car had already been sold. Huberman knew that this was not true, that the man wanted to keep the fine car which, at that time had a great value. But, with extreme restraint of his anger, Huberman succeeded to have the garage-owner deliver him the car.
Huberman felt utmost indignation; it was not only the personal experience but still more the fact that this had happened in Switzerland. He felt terribly disappointed. He looked very pale, but remarked: “I controlled myself well, didn’t I?” - In this state of repressed feelings he ate in a little village-inn a hurriedly and insufficiently prepared meal. Then he had the driver take him back in the car to “Nant”. –

Overworked and overtired as he still was, the suppressed excitement led to catastrophic consequences: what Huberman had expressed as a youth and what he had felt in one form or another during his life: “the effort to suppress my emotion reacts on my stomach and ruins it. All suffering is restrained passion” – this became now full reality. The whole body seemed to be gripped by an intoxication leading to a grave attack of convulsion. This was so strong that it caused the fracture of the neck of the thigh-bone, which was recognised as such only after a month, but which, successfully set, healed completely. – Unexplained remained the illness as such, remained the terrific pains in the left shoulder and a certain immobility of the left arm. During several months the surgeon himself treated with exercises, causing excruciating pain, which Huberman could bear only in the willingness to suffer anything which would enable him to play his violin again. – After more than six months, in a health resort in Italy, the physicians found out that there had been a slight fracture in the shoulder which now, after such a long time could be corrected only by a surgical intervention. – The operation was successful and again – as ten years ago after the airplane crash – Huberman had to work from morning to night to regain the mastery of his violin. – At that time he wrote to a friend: “Was wirst Du wohl von mir denken nach den fast 9 Monaten meines Schweigens auf Dein liebes Schreiben! Was immer Du auch denken magst, es ist auf jeden Fall gefehlt. Heute, wo eine fast tragische Ungewissheit sich zum Bessern wendet, kann ich es Dir sagen: ich habe durch diese 9 Monate zum Teil um mein Leben gekämpft, zum Teil um die Mission in meinem Leben: die Geige … und das Wunder ist geschehen: ich spiele wieder Geige.”

Still in Italy, during one of his exercises, he played in the presence of his music-loving doctor the Concerto in E of Bach in such a way, that he himself was deeply moved by a newly discovered essence and meaning of that concerto. – He played the opening bars of the Brahms Concerto so, that the Professor, overwhelmed, exclaimed: “Quel géant! – What a giant!” –
After return to his home in Switzerland he continued with the incessant exercises. Impossible to describe the ups and downs of hope and despair, the spiritual torments. – Relaxation and recreation he found in walks in the park and woods of his beloved “Nant”, in the song of the birds, the magnificent landscape with the Lake of Geneva, the snow-covered mountains, the green fields and blossoming fruit-trees in the valley and his orchard.
But here in Switzerland, another matter caused him great distress. A young violinist who, before America had entered the war, had studied with Huberman for a short time in summer 1941 in America, and who had now finished his military service, came over to Europe in order to continue his violin studies. Already in Italy he had been with Huberman for a few weeks, and now he came to Switzerland. There, the authorities of the Canton issued an order, forbidding Huberman as a foreigner, notwithstanding his large property, to give violin-lessons! – Was there, at all, a Swiss violin-playing youth in the country, in whom Huberman might have been interested to give him lessons?! – Huberman felt aggrieved, indignant. He did not even permit the young man to come up to his house until, after some discussions, the authorities consented that “foreigners” were permitted to study with him. – He received the notice on a Saturday. – On this Saturday Huberman felt for the fist time that he had regained complete mastery over his violin, he knew that he would be able to play the concerts which he had planned for the forthcoming winter. He scarcely dared to believe it. How often had he exclaimed: I cannot live without my violin!” – And now he had reconquered it, for his conviction, his artistic criterion, fully! – On Sunday morning this believe in the return to his art was still strengthened. –

In the afternoon he had the young violinist come up to his house. First they took a walk through the park, Huberman talked about the necessity to take care of the preservation of the old magnificent trees, he was cheerful, in good spirits. Then he gave the violin-lesson, explaining; being himself in a state of inspiration, he lifted his hands, imploring: “Think of a vision, a vision from far, far away!” – His face was pale, but the eyes shone. Soon he ended the lesson, tired from excitement. The rest of the day he spent calmly chatting. – In the evening a grave attack set in, a doctor was called; after his condition had calmed down, the doctor left in the believe that no specific change would happen. Huberman did not awake from unconsciousness. – In the early morning of the 16th of June 1947 his passionate heart ceased to beat, almost imperceptibly. Without a struggle like a soft breeze ended this struggle-filled life. –

Leaving Concertgebouw followed by secretary, after rehearsal prior to performance later that day, marking his first since Dutch liberation.

4 Nov 1945, Albert Hall

7 Nov 1945, leaving Concertgebouw followed by secretary

Planned world tour
April 1946 - May 1947


Top Photo: 1945