Obituaries

Obituaries from the New York Times, Time Magazine, Etude, and Current Biography.

back to literature >

New York Times, 17 June, 1947

B. HUBERMAN DEAD
NOTED VIOLINIST, 64

Palestine Symphony Founder Made Debut Here in 1896 –
Praised by Brahms at 14

GENEVA, Switzerland, June 16 (AP) – Bronislaw Huberman, internationally known master and teacher of the violin, died today in his home at Nant sur Corsier, Switzerland. His age was 64. He recently returned from a concert tour of Italy.

The loss of his right thumb, cut off in a shaving accident forty-two years ago, proved only a temporary handicap to the violinist.

Bronislaw Huberman, to whom the Times of London once referred as the man “who plays Bach so well that for the moment he ‘is’ Bach,” first appeared here in the season of 1896-97 as a child phenomenon. Heralded then by his manager “at the age of twelve as the greatest living violinist,” he was in reality 14 years old, having been born on Dec. 19, 1882.

However, the boy’s playing excited admiration and wonder, and hope was expressed that he would subdue certain mannerisms. Twenty-five years later the violinist returned to New York and manifested in Carnegie Hall before a large and distinguished audience that he had become a serious person.

To Mr. Huberman, American audiences were the best listeners that an artist could find anywhere except in the Netherlands. He created his reputation in Europe and gained fame by playing all over the world, but he preferred coming to this country, where, he said, he received his finest inspirations.

For more than a decade, Mr. Huberman had played year after year in concerts of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. But he was a Jew, and when the Hitler régime came into power, in 1933, he rejected an offer by Dr. Wilhelm Furtwaengler, the German conductor, to appear in Berlin.

It was his plan to organize in Palestine one of the world’s greatest symphony orchestras. As a result of the anti-Jewish measures in Germany, the plan soon was under way, and many prominent German musicians, forbidden to perform under Nazi rule, went to Palestine and joined the organization. It was Mr Huberman’s idea to make of Palestine “a second and greater Salzburg.”

The plan was completed in December, 1936, when Arturo Toscanini conducted the first concert of the new Palestine Symphony Orchestra. The famous conductor said afterward that the orchestra had “lived up to its reputation.” It was because of Mr. Huberman’s invitation that Toscanini had agreed to conduct at Tel-Aviv.

Mr. Huberman resigned from the teaching staff of the Vienna State Academy in August, 1936, to devote himself more fully to the new orchestra in Palestine. News of his leaving the master class at the academy was received with dismay by the musical public of Vienna, where the violinist had been an idol for years.

Mr. Huberman’s Stradivarius violin, insured for $30,000, was stolen in 1936 from the star’s dressing room at Carnegie Hall while its owner was giving a recital there. It had been stolen before in Vienna in 1919 and was recovered by the Vienna police. The thief on that occasion served a three-year term.

The violinist, narrowly missed death on Oct. 6, 1937, in a plane crash near Palembang, Sumatra. Four others in the plane were killed, but Mr. Huberman escaped with a fracture of the left wrist and one of the right hand. The muscles were not damaged, however, and a year later he was able to resume his concert career.

After the fall of France he found himself cut off from Palestine, so he returned to the United States, arriving on Sept. 5, 1940, after a twenty-two-day voyage from Africa.

The next May he received his first papers for American citizenship, and he resumed his American concert career in the 1941-42 season. His appearance with the New York Philharmonic-Symphony under Bruno Walter, on Dec. 21, 1941, was his first in New York in five years.

His last appearance in New York was with the New York Philharmonic in December, 1945. At the end of that season he left on a ten-month tour in Europe, Egypt and Palestine.

Mr. Huberman was born in Czestochowa, Poland. His father, a barrister, placed the talented son with Michalowisz at the Warsaw Conservatory. The youth later studied with Isadore Lotto, and at the age of 7 played Spohr’s second violin concerto. In 1892 he studied under Joachim in Berlin, and the next year made his debut in Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris. Playing in London, he attracted the notice of Adelina Patti, who engaged him to appear at her farewell concert in Vienna in 1895.

In 1896 the Polish prodigy announced that he would perform a concerto by Brahms, and the composer, so the story goes, was determined to administer a stern rebuke for such presumption. But the boy, who learned that the composer was in the audience, was undismayed and, without showing nervousness, played his best. Brahms, deeply moved, wiped his eyes and later went to the artist’s room and embraced the boy.

TIME, 23 June 1947

Died. Bronislaw Hubermann, 64. Polish-born violinist, rated among Europe’s best; at Nant sur Corsier, Switzerland. Noted for his virtuosity (at 13, Hubermann played Brahms for Brahms himself, moved him to tears), Hubermann was one of the first artists to leave Hitler’s Germany, spent much of his time thereafter organizing the Palestine Symphony of Tel Aviv and scribbling books in support of a United States of Europe.

Etude Magazine, August 1947

Bronislaw Huberman, internationally known violin virtuoso and teacher, died June 16 at Nant-sur-Corsier, Switzerland, at the age of sixty-four. Appearing first in the United States as a child prodigy at the age of twelve, he later established himself as a serious musician, and for many years toured the United States and Europe with great success. In 1936 he organized the Palestine Symphony Orchestra which, under his direction, attained world fame.

Current Biography, July 1947

Huberman, Bronislaw Dec. 19, 1882 – June 16, 1947 Violinist; gave his first recital in 1892 at the International Exhibition of Music in Vienna; afterward played at command performances before Emperor Franz Joseph, was appointed Court Violinist to the Queen of Rumania (1896); established in 1936 the Palestine Symphony Orchestra, many members of which were exiles from Nazi oppression; taught for a long time at the Vienna State Academy; toured Europe, the United States, and other countries. See Current biography 1941 Yearbook.

back to literature >