The Strad 1904

Briefly recounts the life of Huberman, including his tours of Europe and America. The author does not seem particularly interested in violin playing.

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Bronislaw Hubermann

It would be a very difficult matter to show that London is not what used to be claimed for Boston – the hub of the (musical) universe; and he would be a bold man who attempted the task. How many professional musicians actually dwell in London I have no idea. But it is pretty safe to say that every musician of any real note comes to London sooner or later in his career – generally sooner, for the idea still seems to prevail that the metropolitan streets are paved with gold which one has only to stoop to pick up. This surely is the reason why musicians, all and sundry, flock over here in course of time. It would be idle flattery of ourselves to imagine the reason to be that we, being the most musical of nations, make the best audiences, and that therefore the crowd of musicians aforesaid flock here for the sheer pleasure of playing to us, and for nothing more! If that were true what an Arcadia this London of ours would be. I fear it is the prospect of gold, not the complacence of audiences that attract. Be this, however, how it may, it is tolerably certain that, as I said, in due course of time every musician who is “anybody” as the phrase goes, comes to London, and one who wants to be thoroughly au fait of what is going on in the greater world of practical musicians has only to sit down quietly in London and wait, and the musicians will come to him.

The wave of young violinists which began to roll over the musical world a few years ago leaving behind it Marie Hall, Kubelik, Hegedüs, Leonora Jackson, Francis Macmillen, Kocian, even little Franz von Vecsey and Florizel von Reuter, and the rest of the crowd of geniuses, is still evidently rolling along, sweeping up any stray geniuses there may be in its path and washing them up on the shores of the Thames, otherwise London concert rooms. Here is our autumn season hardly underweigh[sic] ere the announcement is made of the arrival among us of yet another genius from the apparently inexhaustible store which modern times have produced. The new genius is BRONISLAW HUBERMANN. His story is a simple one. On January 12th, 1895, a large audience was brought together in Vienna to hear “the Queen of Song” – Adelina Patti, who on the occasion was bidding professional farewell to the Austrian Capital. At the same concert there was announced to appear a child violinist, aged twelve years, of whom report had already spoken highly. Yet practically nothing was known of the lad. One who was present on the occasion said in print after the concert that when little Hubermann had played his first solo “a veritable delirium seized the audience.” The late (and very lamented) Dr. Hanslick himself said “we had come to salute a star that was about to disappear, and we experienced the agreeable surprise of seeing a new star arise on the horizon.”

Bronislaw Hubermann was born in Warsaw on September 19th, 1882. He was at first a pupil of Isidor Lotto, likewise a native of Warsaw who had studied in Paris under Massart, and at one time had been Concert-meister at Weimar. So rapidly did Hubermann progress in his studies, that at the age of ten he played one of Spohr’s numerous concertos in a public concert in his native city, and his success was so emphatic that his parents, acting on the strongest advice of the cognoscenti, took him to Berlin that Joachim might hear him. Joachim’s verdict, too, was emphatic; he is reported to have declared that in the whole cause of his life he had never met with so precociously developed a talent in a mere child. In Berlin Hubermann’s studies were super-intended by Joachim himself. From Berlin Hubermann went next to Paris, where he appeared at one of the “teas” given in the Figaro offices. This was in February, 1894, the year in which he first visited England as a prodigy. There again his success was enormous, and led ultimately to a great tour, or series of tours through Austria and Germany and Russia, even to and through the United States of America. “Carmen Sylva,” Queen of Roumania, most enthusiastic of artistically inclined sovereigns, extended her generous hand to him, and the Austrian Emperor, Franz Josef, presented him with a violin. In Vienna he gave a series of a dozen concerts, and in the New York Opera House no less than fourteen. On returning to Europe Hubermann disappeared temporarily for three years, working hard all the while. On his reappearance in 1903 he gave ten successive concerts in Vienna, six in Milan, seven in Turin, in Genoa four. In Genoa the Municipal fathers organized a festival in his honour whose crowning point was the performance by Hubermann on Paganini’s violin, which, as all the world knows, is most carefully guarded in a glass case in the city museum there. The invitation to this festival ran thus: – On Saturday the 16th (May, 1903), in one of the chambers of the Town Hall, the famous violinist, Hubermann, will make Paganini’s violin resound. The undersigned begs the honour of your attendance on this occasion. The Mayor (signed) G. B. Boraggini.” This was all very well. When the violin had been removed from its case, when the seals had been broken in presence of witnesses, it was found that the new strings were required and that the bridge and the pegs all needed readjustment. The sounds produced were at first dull, but life came at last and for an hour Hubermann played Bach, Schubert, Chopin and Paganini, and thereby rendered his audience ecstatic. In the Archives of Genoa the story is recounted.

As an account of Hubermann’s first concert this season in London will be found elsewhere I need say no more now than merely mention that it has rarely been my lot to read so many fine testimonials and credentials of any artist as I have had placed at my disposal in regard to Bronislaw Hubermann, who from all accounts is a very fine artist and a brilliant technician.

GAMBA.

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Bronislaw Hubermann