Paul Frenkel

Paul Frenkel was Huberman’s pianist between 1917 and 1924. In this short article from The Listener Speaks, he gives an excellent description of Huberman’s interpretative style.

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Bronislaw Huberman

by Paul Frenkel

On Monday morning, the 16th of June, Bronislaw Huberman, after a restless life, has entered into eternal rest.

A short time before his death, he played in the presence of a few friends the Violin Concerto in E of Bach. When he had ended, he said to those present: “Only now do I understand this Concerto well; if only I could play it once this way in a public concert!”

These words characterise clearly this unique figure amongst the virtuosos as a great reproducing artist. I am laying stress upon the word “reproducing”, but not in the meaning of a plain textual and technically most perfect rendition, because this would not do justice to him: I emphasise here the ideal way of reproducing, that is recreating.

Here lay the true greatness of Huberman: whatever the work, whoever the composer he was playing, - in that very moment he was the creator of a work of art. To be able to do that, he had first to be able to comprehend, to be absorbed into a work, to familiarise himself with the spirit and inner life of the composer.

Only so is it explainable that on the podium he always played with inspiration, even if he had to play the same work on several evenings running: again and again he himself underwent the process of creating-recreating, inspired he himself through the work, inspired thereby his co-workers – pianists, conductors, orchestra-members – inspired his listeners.

Played he Bach – then he was in that moment Bach, the monumental master-builder, played he Beethoven – then he was not any longer Huberman, then stood before us Beethoven himself, the heart-rending, the grim in his Allegros, the unearthly-absorbed in his Adagios; played he Brahms, the rough, or Tschaikowsky, the wild-slavonic, etc. etc. – always arose before our ears the manifold creations of art and their great creators.

Huberman identified himself with every composer and thereby familiarised us with him. Playing, he experienced all what the composer himself must have experienced while creating – and he let us partake in experiencing. Therein lay his greatness! There are, even amongst the greatest, not many who are able to present us with this intense taking part in experiencing. Huberman could do it – and in the highest degree ……

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