Elza Galafrés

Elza Galafrés, a well known singer and actress, married Huberman in 1910. They had one child, but the marriage did not last long, and she later married the composer Dohnanyi. She moved to Canada, and published an autobiography Lives ... Loves ... Losses from which these extended extracts are taken. Although the book is out of print, second-hand copies are still regularly obtainable.

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p. 33-34

Spring brought with it an exciting concert season, the climax being the piano recital by Josef Hofmann and the appearance of a young violinist, Bronislaw Huberman, whose name I heard for the first time. He apparently began his career as a child prodigy and had been traveling over the world. His concerts were sensational. Audiences raved. In Riga, crowds gathered in front of the Concert Director’s office to get a glimpse of the display of gifts to this wonder child … gorgeous jeweled wreaths, little silver and gold violins, diamond watches and other fabulous objects.
Unfortunately I couldn’t attend his concerts as they took place at the same time as my own appearances. How little I guessed that destiny had already begun to lay plans which would culminate in this same city a decade and a half later.


p. 59-62

Simply a telephone call, but it changed my life, though at the time who could have guessed the outcome? Mrs. Keller, wife of the Director of Concerts, invited me to share her box one evening to hear the Brahms Violin Concerto with Bronislaw Huberman as soloist.
It was a long time since I had first heard that name, and the waves of turbulent success that followed it. I knew the gossip about the over-zealous and greedy father who had forced the boy to give concerts to the point of exhaustion. Playing, playing, night after weary night to earn the money to support a whole family. Not too unusual a story; almost a commonplace in the musical world.

Our box was close to the stage, and I sat forward, intense and impatient for the appearance of this famous figure. Good God! Was this a nightmare? Could this languid youth who came slowly on to the stage with stooped shoulders and dragging steps be the great Huberman? I was close enough to see his pale, almost ashen face and heavy red eyelids. What a price to pay for success. My heart was flooded with pity. He was still very young, but surely he had been greatly wronged to look like this. Who had treated him so?

His left hand lifted the violin and pressed it tightly to his shoulder and chin, while his right hand lifted the bow, and there emerged a tone sweeter, more powerful, more sublime than I had ever heard. It was like a voice that sobbed and rejoiced alternately, but always with pain, sometimes a cry of anguish, sometimes silent mourning. Cadences of heavenly sound poured forth as the left hand commanded, forced, mastered. And the supreme assuredness of the right hand, full of energy with a long, steady bow. Here was the ultimate of genius, as he transported his great audience to heights of happiness with his art. But he, himself?

The moment he dropped the violin by his side the magic departed, and the old, tired, dull expression came over his face. A weak smile momentarily touched his lips as he bowed stiffly and almost with embarrassment. Deafening applause engulfed him as a hurricane, and he took call after call. Laboriously the thin body straightened – the last down bow – then he left the platform with the same heavy, languid steps.
I was still looking at the exit through which he had left the stage, stunned, and with my hands cramped and white from having been clenched so tightly. A voice brought me back to reality.

“Well, what do you have to say? A tremendous success alright, but poor Bron! He’s in a bad way at the moment, as you could see. You must have been disappointed at his appearance, weren’t you?”
Before I could mumble a reply, my companion looked at me shyly.
“You’ve no idea the number of beautiful, elegant women who are after him. But right now he’s had a little misfortune, poor fellow. His little love nest in San Remo is no more.”
Before I had to listen to any more gossip Mrs. Keller took my arm:
“Let’s go. A few of us are having a little private dinner. Huberman will be there.”

He was sitting at a table discussing his order with a waiter when we arrived at the hotel Imperial. Half a bottle of champagne stood in front of him. As I was introduced he gave me only a quick glance:
“Excuse me if I don’t get up. I’m terribly tired. These awful nights on the train, and the noise in the hotels. If only I didn’t have this rankling insomnia, and this season were at an end!”
He filled his glass and drank it at a gulp.
“I’m no particular friend to alcohol but it helps me over the initial fatigue.”

He didn’t attempt to fill my glass and as I sat down a waiter brought his order which he immediately began to eat, completely ignoring me. A glass crashed to the floor, he jumped, looking at me with a startled glare. I felt helpless but having to say something I blurted out:
“Broken glass brings good luck!”
“Luck?” His eyes focused on me, and I noticed for the first time they were slightly crossed. A heavy vein bulged on his forehead. The sensitive nerves frayed by irritability were mirrored painfully on his face. I pitied him with all my heart and would have given much to find words to lift his tired spirits even for a moment – to take him out of the troubles which seemed to overwhelm him. I did talk and his look was not discouraging, as though my rambling did not displease him. I talked about the sublimity of art and the role of the artist, and the wonder of finding the human being in the producer behind the production. He interrupted me here.
“I think you’re an artist yourself. You surely know that the artist and the human being are not divisible.”
“Oh they are. We both know artists whose work is sublime. Yet as human beings they are small, petty, filled with vanities and weaknesses that make a very poor comparison with their art.”
“Perhaps you put too much weight on external perceptive things. An artist cannot be important if he fails as a human being.”
I was silenced, and I think he saw my discomfiture, for he smiled. “Life can be so complicated that the complications prevent you from living.”
He then took leave of the company, saying “My train leaves at seven in the morning.”

I’d have liked so much to thank him for what he had given us that evening with his art, to say something that might have pleased him and lifted him from his lethargy. I felt that the poor young man had never in his life enjoyed the peace of simple happiness. And that I couldn’t pass on to him some of my own joy in living was a pain to me. I lay awake for a long time. Near me on a table was a big bunch of Parma violets. They gave me an inspiration, and eventually I fell asleep. I wakened early, and once again the violets seemed to urge me. I dressed, took the flowers and hastened to the West Station. The train was already in. There was no sign of Huberman. Three minutes before departure he came on to the platform with his secretary. I hurried up to him and held out the violets. Surprised but seemingly delighted he took the flowers and grasped my hand.

“If I’d known you were to be here I’d have come much earlier.”
“How was your night? Could you sleep a little?”
“Hardly an hour. And it goes on and on. So many weeks, months, until the end of the season.”
“Do take care of yourself. That’s no life.”
He laughed bitterly.

All aboard, a shake of the hand, a wave from the window, and he slowly passed from view.
But not from my life. When I returned from a guest tour a few weeks later, my mother handed me a telegram, which said “Passing through Vienna on Friday. Delighted to have dinner with you at Imperial. Greetings.”
It was signed Suderman, but we couldn’t understand why Suderman, the well-known author, whom I had never met, should have invited me to dinner. The telegram remained unanswered. It had been from Huberman!


pp. 66-90

At the end of a busy season in Vienna I went to “Weisser Hirsch” in Dresden to recuperate at the Sanatorium run by Dr. Lahman where he cured some people and taught others how to live a healthy life.
It was healthy indeed. A cold shower, breakfast, a brisk walk clad only in a bathing suit, despite the weather. A hot spring bath, a sun bath, a silent rest in a quiet forest glade before every meal, which consisted to a great extent of salads and fruit. Much walking, early retiring, and a determination not to think about problems. This was my prescription, and I tried to follow it explicitly until one morning during sunbathing I caught a snatch of conversation between two clients.
“But he’s ugly.”
“I don’t think so. He’s interesting.”
“What about that love affair?”
“There he is different from the average artist. I hear he took it very seriously and really suffered.”
“Oh, I’m not sure. I think he’s only exhausted after overworking. The thing is he’s only after money.”
“Do you wonder, after the kind of childhood he had. Poor Huberman. When did he arrive? Is he staying in the San. or in one of the private villas?”

Before my eyes the landscape was whirling. I had to get up. I took a shower and went into the garden, seeking a quiet place in which to calm myself. But it was useless. Baron Rosen, a pleasant acquaintance from Vienna swooped down on me, with reproaches that I had been hiding myself from people! When I didn’t answer he looked at me closely.
“My dear your nerves must be badly on edge. Must you always play your parts with your whole soul? You’ll burn yourself out. Take things more easily. Why don’t you let me come to see you one afternoon? To such an old man you can surely talk, and unburden yourself.” I was nearly in tears when he left, and that night at dinner my neighbour, the famous singer, Hans Erwin, looked at me sympathetically and said seriously:
“Have you an upset stomach? You look troubled?”

I was furious with myself for having such a transparent face. Strangers even could see when I was disturbed. But was I disturbed? Where was my wonderful peace of mind now, that simply the name of this man had such an effect on me. And on the other hand, there was my great, eternal longing for the perfect emotional experience, the exceptional fate. Was this to be it? Didn’t I crave to make this man happy? To make him happy – to do him good? Damn, was that it? Always resolving itself into “This poor man!”
I did not see him for some days, and then one afternoon as I was sitting with friends I perceived at a distance a thin figure, walking slowly, but not dragging. He had on a cream silk summer suit, and was an elegant figure. He spoke to me: “Do I interrupt? I learned only today that you are here.” He remained when my friends left. What a change! As closed as he had been the evening I met him, so now was he open and talkative. He spoke about his violin, about his music desk which turned pages automatically, the special pneumatic cover for his violin to prevent injury to it on voyages. An invention on which he wanted to procure a patent and of which he appeared to be prouder than of his great artistry. Was this the same man, so warm, almost childlike? It was. From time to time a shadow passed quickly over his face, and he’d make a caustic remark, or sarcastically distort a word in a wry joke, but always skillfully, even brilliantly. I began to realize more fully the depth and complexity of this great artist, and not for the first time I felt pitifully ignorant. He dazzled me with his logic, and teased me on any subject. Finally he began to talk about his early youth, and here, although he picked his words with care, he showed bitterness and regret.

“We were poor all right, but that needn’t have prevented a little joy in our lives. My father had an ungovernable temper – it cost him his first job as a teacher, so he had to become a clerk in a lawyer’s office. As soon as it was recognized that I had talent he gave up working in order to build up my career. I was only ten years old at the time, and there were two younger brothers, but the whole financial support of the family fell on me.”
I was shaken to the depths by his quiet words. What a tragic youth he had.
“My father died as a paralytic when I was twenty. My mother of course was full of fears and anxieties, and fantasies as well. But she loved me tenderly. We were the best of friends, until …” He stopped short. And in future conversations he always stopped at this point and refused to continue. Once one late afternoon part of the secret unveiled.
“People are always talking about my eagerness for money. That I’m not generous enough, even for my own needs. But can you imagine how much I want the quietness and peace than can only be guaranteed by having enough money? To get this I have to give up, for the time being at least, all thoughts of a personal life. When my father died the fortune I had made was in his name. I wasn’t of age, and the law said that everything had to be shared with my mother and brothers. My only expedient was to take the capital under an obligation to support my mother and educate my brothers. These are my first duties, and to fulfill them I have to look after my health, and career, and sacrifice everything else for that.”
“But why didn’t your mother make a little home which would ensure you peace and quiet during your free time?”
“We tried that. She’s an excellent hostess … but ..”
Again that “but”. He continued.
“A suite in an apartment house full of noise, giving me no sleep, is out of the question too. A private home with my endless traveling would be too expensive, but that is my dream! Now I live in a sanatoria, and my mother on the French Riviera.”
“The Riviera?”
“She lives fairly modestly there. Her passion for the place in unconquerable.” He sighed deeply. “She suffers from an illusion, delusion I suppose it is, that some Duke is going to marry her. She’s made a hell of both her own life and mine with this hallucination, and we are no longer as close as we used to be.” While he was speaking his face seemed to change, I saw again the tired youth I had first met, the ashen face and heavy eyes.
“You can see how I am burdened with all the cares and sorrows of a family without any of the joys, or even the blessing of a little comfort.”

What grief these confessions gave me. This man who had given so many hours of happiness to millions of people, had no shred of happiness himself. Loneliness! I shuddered at the thought of his bleak lonesome life, and whatever I had in me of sympathy, pity, admiration and love flowed out to him. I thought at that moment that there could be no more beautiful aim in life than to bring him happiness, and with happiness would come peace and health.

“I’ve been too egotistical” he smiled at my earnest face. “I’ve talked only about myself. Tell me something of your life.”
“As briefly and concisely as possible I gave him a picture of my life, and obviously I told more than I realized, for he took my hand and said,
“Then you too are lonesome. You too are in search …”

We became lovers, and in our love we found profound completion. Oh the perfect serenity and boundless happiness of that wonderful summer! But though for us it was “the world forgetting”, it was not in the least “by the world forgot”. The little shadow of the first cloud had always been in the sky, but in the beginning I ignored it. My mother! Her life since the death of my father had been irrevocably bound up in mine. Not that she ever let me think it was a sacrifice, but she had no other life than mine. And I knew her ideas – they were my own. She had given them to me. She would not for a moment condone my association with Bronislaw. But Bronislaw did not share these views.
“You’re an artist, an independent woman, and your love is a private affair.”

His lack of sympathy for my mother’s point of view hurt me. I felt a little humiliated, and wondered, unfairly perhaps, if he didn’t have the respect I believed was due to a woman, particularly to the woman he loved, and who loved him. But I was torn. I sympathized with him too. He knew at first hand the treachery of love, and his belief in faithfulness was shaky indeed. Hour after hour we talked, but could resolve nothing. I wired my mother to come immediately.
She was almost beyond shock. All talk seemed in vain. She was at first completely adamant. But gradually Bronislaw won her to some kind of a truce. During our long separation in the winter season we should be looked upon as engaged, though secretly. With this small sop to her conscience she became calmer. Her quiet, kind manner impressed Bronislaw, and on her part she came to esteem him, to pity him for his tragic life, and eventually to love him.
Not that she understood him. Everything that was so complicated in his thinking was to her simple and straightforward. She did not separate head and heart. Once Bronislaw said to me “I am the head, and you are the heart.”
It would have been more accurate if he had placed too little words before head and heart. “Too much head” and “too much heart” described us at this time.

Gossip of course surrounded us. Bronislaw wouldn’t dance with anyone but me, and we became conspicuous. Kind Baron Rosen tried to warn me that I might be behaving recklessly. “Clever little one, don’t do stupid things. It’s easy to jump into something, not so easy to get out again.” But I was in love, in love! And nothing else mattered.

Back in Vienna we rented a two-storied villa on the outskirts, peacefully lonesome behind a forest cemetery. Bronislaw’s secretary and pianist were with him, and the house reverberated with music from morning until late evening. At intervals maps were spread out on the table as if in the battle strategy of a general staff. I had never thought that concert tours needed such a complicated organization. My life was fairly regular. Every day I commuted by train to Vienna for rehearsals and performances, and quite often it was after midnight when I returned to wind my darkened, eerie way through the forest along the cemetery.
We had thoughtlessly assumed that we would be quite unknown in our secluded retreat, but one day on that station platform I met a well-known author and journalist, who smiled and asked if I was living out there.
“Perhaps incognito?”

I clutched at the straw, but of course it was useless. Little notices began appearing in the papers concerning our relationship, and one day a friend in Berlin who had seen one of the items sent Bronislaw a telegram warning him to avoid tying himself up in obligations to anyone. The whole matter had to be brought up again. Bronislaw still did not want the obligation of marriage, but in order to protect my mother from distress and torment, and us from unwelcome advisors, we decided to announce our engagement publicly. The flood of congratulatory messages from all over the world was indescribable. I was blissfully happy in the fulfillment of the great love I had always longed for.

In the beginning the separations were only short ones and on some of his trips I was able to accompany him. Each time I was overwhelmed with emotion as he entered the stage and I saw his eyes searching the vast audience for the place he expected I would be. With a fleeting smile he took up his violin, and everything that could not be expressed in words he gave with his glorious music.
The more knowledge I acquired of the worries, irritations and dangers of a violinist’s life, the less these hours were unalloyed happiness. It was sometimes even pain to be one of the audience. To tremble if the night were warm and humid, expecting the strings to go out of tune, or fearing the hazards a new string presents. Especially the anguish of indisposition caused by sleeplessness which menaces the power of an artist. I sat like a chained prisoner. I had never had stage fright myself, and could not help but only remain passive and simply watch! Only an artist who battles for expression, who has complete responsibility before an audience can understand. Now I could realize how much my mother must have suffered. When applause for a good performance made me happy, I knew that what she felt was relief, a silent thanksgiving that once again all had gone well.
One day I was called to the Director’s office where he handed me the part of Marguerite in “Dame au Camalia”! Was I chosen to take this part which had been the world success of Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonre Duse?! Director Weisse insisted, and more than that, gave me only a short time to study it. This was the greatest success of my whole acting career!

The most touching newspaper critiques were in the Vienna ‘Neue Freie Presse’ and another by Dr. Karl Strobel:

“Such a delicate role has many pitfalls. With Elza Galafrés, however, everything remained natural and simple. She gave Marguerite a German heart; she gave her more depth and soul than Duse ever imagined. Dumas’ heroine is pompous. Galafrés does not behave in that way. As represented by her, through her love, Marguerite becomes a very lovable, simple, uncomplicated girl. Indeed the great miracle happens – she regains lost innocence. The past disappears; unbelievable as it may be, a halo of the German Gretchen is cast upon this woman of the demimonde. If she renounces, she feels it is her duty, and she does not behave heroically, in that she is brave without being conscious of it, or without being proud of her action. One feels the beat of a poor and sick heart. Eleonore Duse plays the “Kamaliendame” with temperament and energy, as a prosecutor of society. Sarah Bernhardt plays her as a dame mondaine, but Elza Galafrés radiates warmth in her presentation. The poor girl is completely at the mercy of the brutal forces of destiny. Her courage does not serve her to attack or defend, only to endure. This is moving, and especially so when she breaks down as she promises Armand’s father to renounce her love, and again when she exclaims in deep grief, dying, as she sees her beloved again. And the act of dying – indeed this begins in the first act, she plays as if under some oppression, behind a veil maybe. She is not ever free from the expectation of death. She is gay, pleasant and playful but never without anxiety in her innermost being. In the act of dying there is no realistic pain, only a slow dimming away, like the day passing into night, or like a flower fading. It is not illness that kills her; it is the pain of love.”

And resulting from reviews like that I received many invitations for guest appearances in other cities.

But life with Bronislaw was like living in the midst of a whirlwind, nor could I see why this had to be. Did he have to take such a part in all the tremendous business of administration? The endless telegrams, telephone calls?
“I must, I must”, he reiterated. “Do you know how managers and owners contrive to cheat the artist? This is my affair. You must let me manage it in my own way.”
It all seemed so wasteful to me, such needless expense of health and nerves, and especially now while we were young, to squander our passions in these endless discussions and arguments. That battle would go on night after night, in hotel rooms, with the secretary and accompanist in rooms on either side of his to prevent disturbance from inconsiderate neighbours. I could have saved myself from much worried soul-searching had I had more experience or worldly knowledge. But somehow I was still full of the absurd belief that my love for him had power to overcome all difficulties.

Sometimes I lost courage. Sometimes he did, and sometimes we both did. Spring storms roared over our new love. No mild, tender, white-budded blossoms – no blue unclouded sky spreading streams of golden sunshine. Bronislaw would suddenly decide that he couldn’t go on, and as quickly decide that he couldn’t give me up. Even at the point of collapse I never wavered. I would not let him down. And in between would be hours of violently passionate love-making which would leave us both shaken.

I was to become a mother!

As a tree can be shaken to its roots by a thunderstorm, so the knowledge brought to my consciousness the scandal ..! But only for a flash, then a feeling of inexpressible joy. Not any more could we decide our own lives – here was the strength of a Higher Power. Not trembling – not fearing – but happily I told him. Now, I thought, he also would be above all doubts and fears. A kind fate wished to redeem him.

I was right.
“We must marry immediately” he said, “We are going to London. Let us do it there.”
So easily was the matter decided.

Just before we left Vienna the papers were full of an exciting new pantomime which had just had its premiere in Dresden with sensational success. The libretto was by Artur Schnitzler, and the music by a composer unknown to me, Erno Dohnanyi. The piano score was being printed and should appear any day. I put in an order for it, and luckily it arrived just before we left. In the haste of departure there was no time to study it but I took it with me. What a joy it proved to be. It became my constant companion during Bronislaw’s absences. The more I became accustomed to the music the more it thrilled me. This pantomime, I thought, I must play, and many of my waking hours were spent in pleasant anticipation of what the future held. Our child, and now this new role! I hardly realized how lonely I was in the little boarding house in London to which we had gone to prove residence. Bronislaw had gone to a health resort at Cromer for his nerves. Just before he left a telegram had come from his lawyer in St. Petersburg, in reply to one which I had not known he had sent. He read it without speaking and laid it aside. Later I picked it up.

“Marriage between Russian citizen of your religion and German Protestant legal only if performed in Protestant Church.” What had he asked the lawyer? I never did know. I knew that the bitter struggle which had always been his had made him very wary of following spontaneously the desires of his heart. My sensitive pride rose up, that he should not want this marriage as much as I did, but as always my profound pity overcame my pride, and I went over to kiss his downcast face.
“Do not worry so much darling. We’ll live in a kind of financial separation, I don’t expect any assistance for my household, and as we’re foreigners in Vienna and not Catholics, a civil ceremony will protect the child.”

At my words the burden seemed to be lifted. He was touched and wanted to reciprocate, so that when our lawyer asked what provision he wanted to make for me, he replied, “I give my future wife the right to choose her home wherever her profession demands.”

Our Civil marriage was performed on July 21, 1910, by a Clerk of the District Court, who handed us the certificate and wished us “Good luck!” We left immediately for the North Sea Resort, Cromer, full of gay abandon. Now instead of asking for two bedrooms in hotels we would have one. The marriage license we pinned, a little cynically, above our bed. I thought, now we can both sleep quietly.

How vain that thought was I soon found out. In celebration we had gone to see a traveling circus in a tent lit with primitive oil lamps, so light-hearted did we feel. But as soon as we got to our room it was evident that a violent migraine had attacked Bronislaw. Patiently I massaged his head as I had learned to do, and he appeared to relax in rest. I lay down beside him very quietly.

“Elza dear, a window is rattling somewhere. Please look at it.” I found the window and fastened it. It was a dark night and the waves were high on the shore. I shivered involuntarily at the bleakness of the bare place. Then lay down again. But shortly, “Elza dear, a fly is buzzing … do you mind?”
A fly hunt in the dark. But I found it.

“Darling do you think you could open the window a little? It’s so stuffy in here.” Another half hour of rest – “That window you opened is making a noise. Maybe you’d better close it again.”
I massaged his poor aching head and neck again, despite my own weariness. And then a short blessed interlude of sleep. But so short!

“Darling you forgot to darken the window. A light is shining directly in.” I pulled down the shade and carefully covered the chinks with a plaid traveling rug. Surely now … but a hand on my face wakened me instantly.
“My dear, please don’t be cross, but you breathe so loudly.”

I felt awful through all this, and full of sympathy for my suffering husband, so I lay as still and rigidly as I could. But the body grows tired in one position and gentle and cautious as I was about turning, he woke again and sighed, “Please don’t be angry, but it would be better for both of us if you went into the other room. Every movement wakens me.”

The other room was our sitting room, but it had a day bed in it. I took my pillow and a blanket. The room seemed damp and cold, and outside the sea roared as if to inundate the world. Already it was dawn, a gray forbidding dawn. I sat on the edge of the bed, while unhindered tears ran down my cheeks. But they were not of self pity. They were for Bronislaw, my poor, poor darling. Only now did I begin to understand the extent of his suffering. I was entirely exhausted with this one night, but he had it night after night. And in that condition he had to travel, practise, look after everything, and on the platform summon all the power of his being to burn with the brilliance and radiance of genius.

After two months we returned to Vienna and entered a sanatorium before the heavy winter theatrical and concert season. I was invited to make a guest appearance in Salzburg for December 22nd and 23rd. Sensible people would no doubt have spent this first Christmas quietly at home, but I had been so conditioned not to give up a fee, plus the fact that I wanted the money for surprises I had arranged for the holiday season, that I accepted. Bronislaw sacrificed part of a concert tour and accompanied me.

Unfortunately I caught a cold on the way and it turned into a racking cough, which grew rapidly worse despite the ministrations of a good doctor. He painted my throat so severely that I was practically speechless for a time, and was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to appear. But I did, despite the laryngitis. The doctor was behind the wings ready with a spoonful of glycerine at my every exit. The whole thing was torture to me, and even worse, perhaps to the audience. Before we left for Vienna, the doctor had a word of advice for me.
“Courage is a fine attribute, but bravado when your child’s life may be at stake is a crime!”

I wanted to heed his advice, but at home there was a telegram inviting me to give a complete evening of solo recitation at Pozsony in Hungary, which I accepted. My mother was desperate, but Bronislaw’s eyes expressed his admiration. How often was he forced to travel and play after worse attacks than mine? I was strong and healthy. I began a violent cure, which consisted of keeping completely mute until I appeared on the stage. Well, our Christmas was lost, but the evening was saved. Not for one moment did my voice falter, and Bronislaw’s admiration and pride made me feel I could even have gone through the whole hellish ordeal all over again. I had given him proof that I too understood suffering, and that I too knew that “the performance must go on.”

My gynecologist insisted that in my eighth month of pregnancy I must quite the stage. I was unwilling even then to give up, despite his warning that a fall might be fatal. He even suggested that I might give birth on the stage. But one night I did stumble over my dress and fall. That did it. I gave up and stayed home during the day, though I haunted the theatre as a spectator at night. It was painful to watch other actresses taking my parts, and receiving well-deserved applause, though it was all perfectly natural. I soon had another cause for dejection. I was told that it would be quite impossible for me to nurse my child.
“In your profession? Absolutely no.”
So a nurse was engaged.

The last days of Carnival Time were whirling madly to their close when I had the first warning birth pains. Then followed two nights and a day of uninterrupted pain. When I finally wakened to consciousness the operating room, the chloroform, forceps, were nothing more than a bad dream, but they had denied me the great happiness of hearing the first cry, the sign of life, in my child.
Rose-Monday dawned in radiant sunshine, and there beside me lay Johannes, this miracle which was our son. My happiness was only equaled by Bronislaw’s rapturous delight. He kissed the little hands and feet of his beautiful blonde baby, and then taking out his violin, both out of necessity to practise and out of a desire to share my happiness, began to play. At first the baby slept, but he wakened and added to the concert. It was with pain that I saw another woman give her breast to my son, while my own breasts were bound tightly to prevent physical pain from the unwanted milk.
Someone else was also freed from pain. My mother now became “Oma”, grandmother. A new life beckoned to her in its need. Her selfless love, which sacrificed all personal desires and asked nothing in return, would be poured out on her grandchild.

The Doctor, Professor Schauta, came into my room in the Sanatorium while Bronislaw was playing.
“What is this? The Holy family or a gypsy camp? This will never do. Be careful my dear children, tomorrow is also a day!”
Everyone was chased out, even Johannes.
Silence softly spread her wings. Sleep is inviting …
The dream is fulfilled … !

The next day a little altar was erected in my room and a huge, French Protestant Pastor spoke heart-warming words as he christened “Johannes”.

Twelve days later we were home. Johannes and the nurse were taken into Oma’s suite and there I had to go when I wished to see my son. If I dared lift him from his cradle, I was besieged:
“Do be careful, don’t let the child fall!”

If I wished to kiss his sweet, blond head:
“The Doctor strictly forbids that! It’s not hygienic.”
Of course I eluded them occasionally and could take the baby on my lap. It was great happiness.

There wasn’t much time for reflections. Fifteen days later I was back at the theatre. And here I had another “first”. I prepared and gave a lecture on the theatrical profession which later became my first published work Aus Der Eigenen Werkstatt, Verlag Hugo Heller, Vienna.

For the summer we rented a villa near Vienna, which would give security of peace to Bronislaw, sunshine to Johannes, and to me proximity to the city to which I had to commute daily until mid-July. The house was ideally situated in a fine old park, and became a paradise which was the background for all the happiness that now was ours. On Sundays the driveway used to be filled with the cars of our friends. During the week there was silence as Bronislaw planned the strategy of his forthcoming Russian tour, which was to consist of some 150 concerts. He suffered also the hell of constant practice for a virtuoso who would rather have been increasing his already powerful intellectual capabilities. Nevertheless we grew together in harmony and in the happy consciousness that we were each endeavouring to do everything possible for the other that our natures and dispositions would allow. This does not mean that we didn’t have real collisions in our opinions. In spite of my newly awakened mania of fear in financial affairs, I couldn’t share Bronislaw’s economic viewpoint, especially if it touched the joy of giving to others, or the stringent treatment of our domestic staff. Bronislaw would say, “Elzelein, think of the sleepless nights, the exhausting trips which all serve the purpose of making us free and independent to enjoy life in our best years.”
“And until then? Surely it’s the daily little joys which keep the elasticity of life?”
He was as unable to convert on this point as I.

How we loved the place! One of Bronislaw’s best friends was Baron Albert Profumo. He had never been to London without visiting the Profumo’s, and this summer Baron Profumo was our guest. As he saw Bronislaw’s joy and relaxation in the beautiful little estate, he asked one day, “Why don’t you buy it and make it your permanent home?”
Bronislaw sighed deeply, and took a moment to frame his reply.
“I would love to own it, but … as long as I have to work for it … I don’t want to
burden my nerves with any more obligations.”
“Well” said baron Profumo, “Let me buy it for you.”
“No, no. By no means. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, but no.”
“You can reimburse me some day, if you wish.”
Bronislaw was deeply touched, but he was adamant, and refused.

Young Austrian poets and musicians were our frequent guests. On mild starlit evenings or in moonlight we’d all wander down to the huge fir trees, and there we’d lie on the grass and listen to a young writer improvise on the beauty of the night in the soft summer air. From the music room of the villa would come Brahms, Beethoven, trios, sonatas. And upstairs would be Oma and Johannes, sleeping securely and with surely peaceful visions. It was our most blissful time.
In the Fall strenuous work in the theatre, and the added shock of an automobile accident brought me to the point of exhaustion. I became irritable. All my life my mother had been my confidante. To her I had poured out all my griefs and irritations, and even if these sometimes hurt her she never showed it for a moment. I was immediately pardoned. But life was different now. I became irritated when Bronislaw’s letters did not arrive when I expected them, or when they did not let me know where he would be next so that I could reply. I let him know I was irritated and angry – but he was not like my mother. I know I wounded him deeply many times with my impetuous outbursts.

His Russian tour was to begin in November, and in order to shorten our separation as much as possible, we were to meet at then end of the year in Riga to combine the agreeable with the profitable by making a guest appearance there to cover my expenses of the trip. Russian rules required a passport. Before issuing this document the Russian Consul in Vienna asked for a marriage certificate. We had only the Civil ceremony one. What to do? Bronislaw remained silent, and this roused me violently. Time was passing. I went to my lawyer who said “It’s very simple. Have the church service immediately, then everything will be all right.”
But Bronislaw did not react to this simple solution, nor did he offer an explanation. He simply remained mute when questioned. But he went to the Russian Consulate himself, and found they would grant me a passport under my maiden name. I was appalled. This was of course the consequence of my hasty acceptance of the arrangement in London, but I never dreamt that I would have to pay this price. The gap between our views seemed to be unbridgeable. My lawyer was too good a friend to both of us and too clever not to see in advance this action could become a rift, so he took matters into his own hands, and got a passport. How … he refused to explain! I suppressed my bitterness. Once again there was a tender reconciliation.

After a mad exchange of telegrams, juggling with dates, we finally fixed our meeting place, in a little Russian town, a few days before the New Year, from which we could travel together to Riga.
In Warsaw I had a wait between trains. I had been advised, in case of difficulties that I should turn to a Jew, if I saw one, as they generally knew German. I stood quite lost, with all my luggage, in the rotunda of the station. I saw a Jew, in ritual dress, looking interestedly at my American trunk so I asked him where I could find a checkroom, the rest room and the Post Office. He became quite voluble, but, in questioning me! Was I married, any children, boy or girl, which language the boy spoke besides his mother tongue. I explained he was still a baby.
“Doesn’t matter” he replied good-naturedly, “Precaution is always good! A boy must learn … much learn! What is the price of sugar and flour where you come from?”

As I laughed and told him I hadn’t the slightest idea of any prices, he shook his head disapprovingly.
“That is nix good! Prices – one must know!”
We checked the trunk, then as I looked for the rest room, he pointed to it:
“Put the suitcases in there, give the woman something, she will take care of them and you will come cheaper out as the checkroom.”
When I returned I told him I wished to send a telegram.
“Why? Did somebody die?”
“Why do you ask that?”
“Na! You want to sent a telegram .. that costs money!”

I explained that I only wished to let them know at home of my safe arrival, he shook his head again:
“A postcard does it also, and is much cheaper.”
He gave the information to the telegraph clerk, who understood German, but who snubbed my helper in a rude, coarse way: “Don’t push ahead like that! This lady was here first!”
I felt badly that in his friendly goodwill he should suffer shame so I turned to the clerk:
“Pardon me … this gentleman is in my company!”
Perplexed, he stared at me, attended to my needs and became very impatient as my companion started to count the change very punctiliously. I had the impression the latter was having revenge for the rudeness he had suffered as he spoke in a loud voice:
“One cannot know! We are human beings! One can make … a mistake!”

In the little Russian town I met Bronislaw, who had a concert that evening before we left for Riga. In a tour of the magnitude of 150 concerts, small and out-of-the-way places must be visited as well as the large cities, an arrangement which was often more than nerve-wracking to the artist. And .. in this village there was no stage lighting; silver candelabra stood on either side of the grand piano. They shivered and shook at all the forte passages, as if they would topple over at the next moment. Bronislaw’s accompanist, a little, weak and frightened looking character glanced up at him helplessly during these passages. I was very angry, as well as appalled at this treatment of a great artist.

The evening closed as disastrously as it had begun. An open sleigh stood before the door immediately after the concert to take us to the station which was a good two hours ride away, and gave us only just time to catch the only train that night for Riga. Bronislaw rushed from the stage to the so-called artist’s room, an icy-cold dungeon in the basement. Bathed in perspiration he packed his Stradivarius first, and then began to change his clothes. His secretary was meeting us only in Riga so the work of settling up with the local manager was left to the accompanist. There wasn’t even a table in the basement so the two men in their heavy coats and big fur hats shoved back on their heads stood figuring and counting on a piece of paper against the wall. Their voices grew louder and louder as they counted and quarreled, counted and quarreled, becoming more and more excited all the time. I began to think they would come to blows, and shivered uncontrollably, both with the extreme cold and utter distaste for this wrangling. Someone rushed into the room and roared, as everyone else there seemed to roar on any occasion,
“If you don’t get into the sleigh immediately the driver won’t guarantee to catch your train.”
Everything was thrown into a suitcase. The manager now had a sly unpleasant smile on his face. Obviously this hurried and forced departure was of his planning, and caused him no loss. But who of any audience could ever imagine a world-renowned artist in such a back-stage scene? We got away, and wrapped in thick fur robes and huddled closely together we sped through the bitter cold winter night to the bleak little station, and arrived as the train was pulling in. The next morning we arrived in Riga.

The hotel was the one in which I had my old suite, opposite the theatre. For a moment I was filled with nostalgia as memories came flooding back. My thoughts wandered to Paul and his family. What had become of them all? Dear Paul, so earnest, so pale and romantic! I remembered the carnival scene. But there was Bronislaw in the room with me, and I felt disloyal in having pleasant memories of a time which did not belong to him, almost as if I had been guilty of unfaithfulness. I suppose it was laughable, but I did not think so at the time. That night a huge bouquet was handed to Bronislaw, bearing a card without a name, but instead a few bars of Schumann’s “Traumerei”, and the word “Remembrance”. I was furious at his complacent acceptance of this trophy, which to me, his wife, was in very bad taste indeed. I was absolutely fanatical on the subject of faithfulness, not only in word and deed, but in thought also, and my demand for totality in love must have appeared unrealistic.

The secretary had arrived from St. Petersburg with a whole arsenal of newspaper clippings, articles etc., which were to be translated into German, so that our room soon took on its accustomed look of a chaotic battlefield. As the newspapers were being read by Bronislaw and the secretary I became aware that there was something strange or amiss in the atmosphere. Every now and again the secretary looked at me, as if to guess how much I understood of Russian. This aroused my interest and my distrust. Something was being concealed from me. Bronislaw was frowning over one of the articles he was correcting for translating. My worried curiosity gave me courage to ask what it was all about.
“Nothing special. Just an article from one of the sensational St. Petersburg newspapers.”
I knew Bronislaw disliked intensely what he called my jealous outbursts, but this time I insisted that my question be answered.

Without speaking he handed the paper to the secretary who, in a flat unconcerned voice, read out:

“The palm of victory for the greatest success of the St. Petersburg season must be given to Bronislaw Huberman. Nine sold-out triumphant concerts! Unfortunately the most alluring offers could not persuade him to give a tenth. But what was not attainable by human means is to be brought about by Cupid. We hear that the famous artist is on his way to Vienna to divorce the great actress in order to marry a St. Petersburg aristocrat. This is a joyful surprise …”

But I had heard enough. I turned to Bronislaw in violent anger. The secretary vanished. Bronislaw was desperate. In vain were all his attempts to explain to me that the whole story was just a publicity stunt.
“Don’t you understand? What are critiques? Written today, forgotten tomorrow. But publicity which has the titillation of being personal stays alive. It demands a retraction, answers which don’t cost anything, but which are a real advertisement and help to sell the newspapers to sensation hungry readers. Can’t you see this?”

I couldn’t. This was the cheapest kind of publicity, and moreover it was all lies. How could he bear these things being said about our marriage? No matter how many times retracted, something of the whole dishonest process would remain like an ugly stain. I could not bear the thought.

Bronislaw was full of contrite despair. He assured me again and again that he had never dreamt I would have been so violently upset. Had he known he would have put a stop to this kind of vicious advertising. But it was all useless. I hardly heard him. Were we really as far apart in our thinking, was my hopeless thought. If so, then what had we left? I was aware, far back in my conscious mind that the first tiny seeds of mistrust had been sown long ago – that marriage ceremony in London, so different from what I had imagined. Then the passport in my maiden name. What did it all add up to? That night instead of lying in my husband’s arms I cried myself to sleep, bitter tears that brought no relief. It was the last night of the new year which had begun so happily.

A desperate reconciliation brought a time of renewed passion mingled with tenderness, and like drowning people we clutched at the floating planks of our desires hoping they would bring us safely to land. I worked harder than ever at my profession, striving to reach one aim after another. With Bronislaw the reverse was his desire, and I watched with pity his great longing for quiet steadiness and peace.
I said “pity”. No longer could it be disguised as love, but I knew that pity and loyalty were now all I had to give. The realization had come slowly and painfully, but without the heartbreak which might have been expected. There were many days of weariness, ennui, when I wondered if all life had to offer me of passionate love was to be found only behind the footlights in the careful embrace of a stage lover. Life was almost at a standstill. I seemed to be only marking time until something would happen.

My story until now has been autobiography. But now it must turn into biography as I tell the story of Erno von Dohnanyi, the man who entered my life at this time. It begins with Erno at the age of three.


pp. 178

When he appeared on the conductor’s stand the applause poured over him in great waves of sound. Then the hall darkened. He waited until the excited murmurs died down. There was a little pause, an undercurrent of something, which had nothing to do with the performance. But in Vienna what love affair, or hint of one, can remain uncovered? The evening was all the more sensational for the whisper that there was something – nothing definite – no one knew anything – but Dohnanyi and Galafrés – what a combination! And Huberman was on a concert tour in Russia.


pp. 182-183

Fortunately hurt pride came to my rescue and I began to speak of Bronislaw although Dohnanyi had not asked about him.
“He’s had a hundred and fifty concerts this season in Russia alone. How I wish I could win a new audience every night with my art.”
“Oh come!”, He lit a cigarette. “You don’t really think that is any kind of life for you. It’s a waste of nerves and strength, which you could put to better use. To be a wife and mother is the first goal of any woman.”
“But my art?”
“Well, you are wasting there too. Is it really worth while to devote all that energy to these modern experimental plays and shallow boulevard trifles? If you must play, play the classics which still have eternal values.”



Back in Berlin Dohnanyi found it impossible to stay at home. His house was continually filled with visitors, but he could not complain too much. He had welcomed them at first as a relief from being alone with his wife, but now they bored him. As soon as he could, he escaped to Madonna di Campaglio in Tyrol for the mountain climbing he loved. But first he decided to pay the promised visit to Bronislaw Huberman and me in Rekawinkel. Even as the thought came to him, a feeling unknown to him up to now, possessed him. He recognized it as jealousy. He was jealous of Huberman! What could he do? It was a greater torture to stay away than to come to me. He had to see me.

Rekawinkel was three-quarters of an hour from Vienna. Here we had rented a summer place, “Quellenhof”, and as he drove up the long driveway through the park-like land, he was struck with the grandeur of the place. What he had taken at first glance to be a kind of wilderness, or at least wildness, on closer scrutiny became a minor miracle of garden architecture. Bridges beneath hanging willow trees connected paths, each more picturesque than the last. Imposing black first stood like sentinels before the house, towering above the open terrace off the second floor. He could hear the melodious tinkle of a fountain somewhere in the background. Poussin, Claude or Salvatore Rosa, he thought, would have liked to paint a scene like this. It had just the touch of mystery for those artists. Then suddenly the whole place struck him as a bit dismal. The house was huge but not an inhabitant was visible, the only sound was the faint, monotonous drip of the fountain. He soon learned that the solemn quiet was an absolute necessity to Huberman who suffered appallingly from hypersensitive nerves, and who fought a heroic battle every night against chronic insomnia. Dohnanyi knew nothing of this as he put his head through the open window and called out a cheerful “Gruss Gott!”

Fortunately Bronislaw was not sleeping and the guest was greeted with great pleasure. My husband had wanted to meet Dohnanyi for many years but the opportunity had never been forthcoming, since the latter had a habit almost fatal to friendship of leaving letters and telegrams unanswered, and, when anyone complained, of compounding the offence by saying, “My not answering should be the answer.”
Diametrically opposed in general views, the two famous musicians found a matchless unity in their love of music. Beethoven’s Kreutzer Sonata! The two figures were like phantoms against the dark wood walls of the music room, lit only with the soft light of a dozen candles. Seldom has such music been heard except by a rare few.

One afternoon when Bronislaw was absent, Dohnanyi played his latest composition for me. His hands moved softly over the keyboard as if in improvisation, while from his lips came softly the words of a poem “Sonnensehnsucht”[1] by Wilhelm C. Gomoll. He finished and I could not move. Without speaking he began another song, “Gott”, by the same poet. The songs were full of his longing; they were cries from his heart. I tried to hide my tears. Dohnanyi lit a cigarette and gazed out the window at a field of waving wheat on the opposite hill.
“This ‘Quellenhof’ is a beautiful spot. Why doesn’t Bronislaw own it? He surely is the best paid of all artists.”
“In one way he would like to won such a place, but on the other hand it’s nearly impossible because in winter I must be near my work so I have to live in Vienna. And for more than six months in the year, Bronislaw is on tour with a secretary and an accompanist.”
“Can you really believe that two people who have had such fanatically opposed aims can ever reach unanimity? We have a proverb in Hungary, homely but truthful, ‘Kutyabol nem lesz szalonna.’ ‘You can’t get bacon from a dog’. You live in your emotions, Huberman in his intellect. Sometimes you can come close to each other but never in complete harmony. Ah, my dear, the will alone is not enough to procure happiness for oneself or for another.”
“How easy it is to give advice.”
“Perhaps, but I tell you the will is not enough. God knows I should be aware of this too, but I do no more about it than you.” He put out his hand to pull me to my feet. “Let’s go to the upstairs terrace and see the last of the sunset. Bronislaw must be up by now and perhaps we can all take a walk before dinner.”

Bronislaw was busy for the rest of Dohnanyi’s stay. He was either practicing or planning with his secretary the strategy for the coming concert season. Dohnanyi and I strolled through the great beech forests. It was love in the Vienna woods, but love as yet unacknowledged, love that only trembled on the brink of fulfillment. But as always love made Dohnanyi vocal. New melodies swam almost unbidden into his mind. Romantically his thoughts fled back to his first love song made, he remembered, for a little girl, of whom not a trace remained in his memory but her name, and that he commemorated, as he now commemorated the names of his love and himself. The first notes of the new composition were E-G-H- and E-G-D … “Three Piano Pieces – Valse, Aria, Scherzo.”[2] As a farewell gesture he presented the new composition to me when he left Rekawinkel.

He did go to Prague for “The Veil of Pierette”. Had he decided on the next step, or did the elements decide for him? He never knew. But a thunderstorm of proportions resembling a tornado engulfed the town. We rushed through torrents of rain from the carriage to the hotel entrance, our way lit by flashes of lightning that for a moment turned night into day. He found that he still held in his hand the now crumpled wreath which had been on Pierette’s head. A terrific flash followed instantly by a might crash sent me headlong into his arms. He lifted my head and put the bridal veil on my dripping hair, and for the first time kissed me with passion.


p. 191

As soon as Dohnanyi heard the news he wrote post haste beseeching me to follow his action and ask for a divorce. It seemed to him that everything was now in our favour. In daily passionate letters he tried to show how much better it would be if I made the break now. He reminded me of all we had to gain and how little to lose. When I wrote back I explained about Bronislaw, how he trusted me, how he had now built his life around me, about Johannes, our adorable little son, and last, about my faithful and devoted mother, who had lived for nothing but me. Could I break all these hearts for my own selfish happiness? I was being romantic, replied Dohnanyi. Hearts do not break in this fashion. Bronislaw was away for at least eight months a year in any case. My mother could as easily be part of our household when I became Madame Dohnanyi as when I was Madame Huberman, and as for Johannes, of course I would bring him along, and arrangements would be made for Bronislaw to see him. After all how much did he see of his son at the present?
Dohnanyi’s disappointment when I arrived in Berlin and told him I had not broken the news to my family, was very great. He could not understand, and then brought up a new difficulty between us: he disliked my new play.


p. 195-197

I returned to Vienna. Very late on morning in the following Spring, after returning to Berlin, Dohnanyi was, as usual, still in bed, when the urgency of my tugging the doorbell to his bachelor suite brought him to his feet. Struggling into his dressing gown he opened the door. He was astonished. I had never come to his rooms before. True, he expected me to arrive in Berlin that day but our rendezvous was not until the afternoon.
“My darling! What is it? Are you free, at last?” and he tried to take me in his arms. I pushed him away:
“Oh no. Not yet, but Erno, something awful has happened.”
“Sit down and be calm.”

He lit a cigarette, waited for the tale I told with gaps between sentences. He had known that I had accepted an engagement at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus for May, but before coming to Berlin Bronislaw had accompanied me to an engagement in the provinces. He had been gloomy, but had demanded expression of my love, as if he feared his hold on me was no longer fast. I faltered as I told Erno that I believed Bronislaw could have held me had he been willing to bring to the marriage the same sacrifice I had contributed.
“But you are right Erno. We haven’t very much in common. Our ideas of marriage and a home are completely opposite.”
“Did you tell him so?”
“No. I hadn’t the courage. He seemed so sad and was so grateful for the tenderness I showed him.”
Dohnanyi compressed his lips but said nothing. I told him that Bronislaw had left finally, but not in tenderness – in anger, without even a farewell. He had gone to London to fulfill an engagement and I had left with the night train for Berlin.
Then he spoke:
“Ah, Elza, wouldn’t it have been better to have followed my way and told Bronislaw? I’m sorry you’ve had this fright, but cowardice brings its own revenge.”
“Erno, don’t be cruel! I acted out of pity. My heart couldn’t bear to tell him. But why didn’t he come like a good friend to ask what was the matter? It didn’t seem to occur to him that I might be suffering too. Well, I must end this at once!”

I went to the phone very deliberately, called Vienna and spoke with my lawyer:

“I want you to announce immediately, in the court, that our marriage is illegal. You know all the details and can put it in proper form.”
“But what has happened? I had no idea …”
I told him concisely, with Dohnanyi listening. I would prove my stability and strength of mind. My lawyer was speaking, Dohnanyi heard only my answer:

“It’s too late now .. yes … I know … but the Church ceremony never did take place … Very well … All I want to know is if I can consider myself free from this moment … No, I didn’t tell him I wanted my freedom … I let him know I wouldn’t be spending the summer with him … He could have asked about my feelings couldn’t he? … He must have known I was distressed! … Johannes? My child? … Are you mad? My child belongs to me! I wouldn’t let him go for anything in the world!”

I replaced the receiver and turned to Dohnanyi:
“I am free. He says the rest is only a formality.”
He took me in his arms.
“All we need now is courage to face our life.”


p. 228

He was a good psychologist. He had never before asked that I should give up my career for his sake – never hinted at it. He knew how strong a habit of mind was my idea of duty, and he knew how much I loved him. There was another important issue also occupying our attention at the time. Bronislaw wanted custody of his son Hally. I was equally passionate in my desire to keep the child. Jurisdiction as to the fate of the boy had not yet been made final. Dohnanyi realised that this matter would come to a conclusion more quickly if I made myself free to devote all my time and care to him and the two children. Without a backward glance I became Elza Dohnanyi, housewife.


p. 389

Then all too soon came the second break in the family circle. Grief at the death of Nagymama still shadowed the household when it began to be evident that Oma had changed. She would sit for hours in her rocking chair, reading old letters, and smile with melancholy eyes when she heard plans being made that included her. One day in the late summer she suffered a stroke. The end was quick. In two days this life was also over.
The very next morning as she lay in her room before being taken to Vienna for cremation, technicians from the B.B.C. were down in Erno’s study setting up equipment for a program to London of Erno and one of Budapest’s great opera singers.
The following day the sorrowful journey to Vienna where Hally was to meet us after visiting his father. As Erno and I entered the little Chapel – there by the casket was a beautiful wreath with a touching farewell from – Bronislaw Huberman! Oma’s ashes were taken to the French Cemetery in Berlin to be beside her husband.


p. 413

If this were the story only of my life with two of the world’s greatest artists it would have finished with my separation from Dohnanyi. Huberman had died in 1947. When I heard the news over the radio, like countless others who had been enriched by his music, I mourned for the death of this great musician. I mourned also with a personal sorrow as I thought of the eternally struggling soul, cut off now without ever having enjoyed the peace and independence for which he had battled since childhood. Longing for peace himself, he had fought with an even greater fervour for peace among nations. Both aims had failed, though he had thrown all his energies, mental, spiritual and financial into the hope of a United States of Europe. Fate had another mission for him. Giving up finally his life’s heroic fight to aid musicians who had been able to escape from countries where they had been persecuted. He and Toscanini were the founders of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Tel Aviv.

Bronislaw had always loved nature, and trees which in his early days had been enemies because they harboured noisy birds, had become his friends, in particular a majestic fir in the garden of his home in Switzerland. It was to him a symbol of loneliness, but also of strength and peace. His ashes now rest at its roots.

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Bronis & Elza at Sanatorium Lahmann, Dresden

At the summer home, “Rekawinkel”, Austria

Elza and Johannes, 1911

Rekawinkel, 1911-1912