Picture Post

Although this article from the English Picture Post magazine was published in March 1939, it appears to have been written several years earlier, as it refers to Huberman's 1713 Stradivari which was stolen in 1936.

In converting this article to html, I have tried to keep as close as possible to the original layout ... I’m not sure why, as it doesn't translate that well to a computer screen.

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Preparing to Play: He Tunes His Instrument

He Makes Ready His Bow


Even before fine technique, a violinist must have a fine ear.   The violin can produce every pitch possible to human hearing. Pitch must be true, tone clear before the violinist begins to play.  Huberman tunes his strings with infinite care.  Listens, adjusts a string, listens again.


A light smear of resin to his bow.  Bowing is as important to the violinist as fingering.  It affects the tone as much as the construction of the violin itself.  Huberman carries a collection of bows with him on his tours.  As one loses its surface, he changes it for another.


This Is How Huberman Spends Hours of Every Day

On the platform his expression is dark and gloomy.  His manner is restless.  He is put
off by a draught, or a rustle among the audience.  Sometimes a small noise will make
him stop playing altogether.



A short time ago, Bronislaw Huberman, the famous violinist, was involved in an air crash.  His left hand
was injured.  It was feared he would never play again.  But to-day his talent is greater than ever.

When a plane crashed in Sumatra less than 18 months ago, music-lovers all over the world were appalled to hear that Bronislaw Huberman had been one of the passengers.
   Four people lost their lives.  Huberman escaped, but his left hand was badly hurt.  It was feared that he might never play again.  Yet his recent recitals in Britain were some of the greatest in his brilliant career.  His experience seemed even to have added new depth to his interpretation and austerity to his technique.
   Huberman was born 57 years ago in Poland, and made his first appearance on a concert platform when he was seven years old.  That was in Vienna, and critics acclaimed him as a child prodigy.  But his father, a poor barrister,

saved him from the fate of many child prodigies, withdrew him from concerts, and sent him to study under Joseph Joachim in Berlin, and later under Heerman in Frankfort and Marsuk in Paris.
  When he was only 13 years old, Huberman played the Brahms Concerto before Brahms himself, and it is said that the composer was moved to tears by the boy’s virtuosity.
   At 14, Huberman had the first sensational success of his life, when he played at Adelina Patti’s farewell concert in Vienna.  Since then, a series of successes, in England, in the United States, in every capital of Europe.  But there has, too, been another side.  Huberman is a great violinist, but he is also a great European. 

Famous Fingers


The muscles of the left arm become strong and supple with constant playing, the finger-tips square and hard as horn.  Huberman is famed for his virtuosity.  He revels in brilliant, rapid finger work.


For years, he took a fervent part, by speaking and writing, in the Pan-Europe organization founded by Count Coudenhove-Kalergi, and sponsored in his lifetime by Briand.  When rampant nationalism wrecked the hopes of the Pan-Europeans, Huberman turned to the relief of refugees.  From Zionist and refugee musicians in Palestine, he built up the Jewish orchestra which is now world-famous, which Arturo Toscanini has conducted, and which Huberman, with a hundred concert triumphs to his credit, regards as his own greatest achievement.
As a concert artiste, Huberman is a nervous, highly strung man.  He steps on to the platform, bent and austere, with an expression of gloom and suffering.  He darts a glance around his audience and waits for late arrivals to settle.  He tunes his violin and goes on waiting.  Sometimes he begins to sniff like a puppy.  That is if he feels a draught on the platform – a draught means numb fingers.  At last, when he has absolute silence and stillness, he begins.
   By degrees, the gloom fades from his face, and he becomes engrossed in his music. But not so engrossed that the slightest movement escapes unnoticed.  He has been known to stop playing in the middle of an item and start all over again when interrupted by a rustle.  On one occasion, when playing to a crowded and fashionable audience abroad, his eye caught sight of one woman nursing a small lap-dog.  He stopped playing at once, and demanded, “Madame, has your little dog paid for his ticket?”  Woman and dog were forthwith escorted from the hall.
Huberman’s favourite composers, and those whose works he plays with outstanding brilliance, are Beethoven and Brahms.  Like all truly great violinists, he is intensely interested in the art of the great violin-makers, and himself possesses an outstanding Stradivari (1713) and a Guarnari whose value is estimated at £10,000.

These Are His Constant Companions


He possesses a Stradivari and a Guarnari, dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and valued at £10,000.  With them he takes a set of six bows.


A Great Violinist Practises:  In the Bedroom of his London Hotel

You see in this picture the life of a world-famous violinist.  It is a life of hotel bedrooms
 and railway trains.  Plenty of renown and very little comfort.  In the case of Huberman
he has another inspiration besides his music.  He is a humanist as well as a violinist. 
He works for refugees as well as for his art.