Newsweek 1934

Newsweek published 3 November, 1934.

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HUBERMAN: Polish Violinist Plays With Steel-Stringed Bow in Baltimore

In an uptown section of Baltimore, Md., last Friday, more than 1,000 music lovers heard and watched a small man with thinning hair perform miracles of virtuosity on a violin. The setting was Peabody Hall. The occasion was the opening of the Peabody Conservatory’s sixty-ninth season. The violinist was Bronislaw Huberman, appearing in America after an absence of ten years.

After the performance, which included Mr. Huberman’s own arrangement of a Chopin waltz, the audience shouted approval. Unlike most violinists, who seldom give more than one or two encores, Huberman responded with six.

Mr. Huberman left his Gibson Stradivarius in London. He played a rare Guarnerius which he valued at the United States Customs for $35,000. Few of his listeners realized the bow was strung with metal instead of the usual horsehair. According to the musician, he is alone among foremost violinists, to use metal strings in his bow. He believes steel adds volume and flexibility to the tone.

Now 52, the musician was a child prodigy at the age of 8. One of his first concerts (1896) included the Brahms Concerto, Op. 77. Brahms, annoyed at the idea of a child “butchering” his music, went to the concert fully prepared to rebuke the upstart. But as the concert progressed, the great composer’s frown vanished. After the performance, Brahms hugged the child in gratitude for the exquisite rendering. This led to a fast friendship. Many years later, Huberman named his only son Johannes in memory of the famous composer.

Huberman is now one of Europe’s great musical heroes. In Vienna, where the Polish violinist lives, the Austrian government has put at his disposal the former imperial residence of emperor Charles. Once when he visited Genoa he was allowed to play on Paganini’s violin which is kept in the Town Hall. His favorite sport is deer hunting. In his Viennese palace he divides his life between playing the violin, collecting Chinese antiques, lecturing, and writing on Pan-Europe.

Mr. Huberman will remain in the United States until Jan. 17, appearing in concert and with leading symphony orchestras of the East and Midwest.

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