Vienna 1895 / America 1896 / 1900s / 1920s / 1930s / Australia 1937 / 1940s / Neville Cardus / Alexander Ruppa

Australia 1937

Reviews of the Australian tour of 1937.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 June 1937 (reviewing Saturday 19th)

A Great Violinist
First Recital

Bronislaw Huberman fulfilled all expectations at the Town Hall on Saturday night.

He did more. One had been confident of dignity and force and intellectual grasp. But this was violin-playing which soared beyond such qualities, and touched greatness. For it held within it that aspiring flame of personality, which, while it does not eat into the integrity of the composer’s ideas, illumines those ideas with a passionate conviction. In a word, Huberman is not a mere technician. He is a brilliant artist.

The pianist of the evening, Mr. Jacob Gimpel, must be associated with this enthusiastic praise. For the concert did not consist of violin-playing with a piano accompaniment. It was a collaboration on equal terms between two distinguished musicians. For sheer brilliance and colour and for the weaving of luxuriant detail into a unified impression, Sydney audiences have seldom heard anything to approach Mr. Gimpel’s part in the Mendelssohn concerto. This music ceased to seem a makeshift as it often does. It shone forth in inspiring completeness.

The audience responded to all this in a particularly warm-hearted way. It must have been specially gratifying to Mr. Huberman to hear the roar of applause which broke out after his playing of the unaccompanied Bach – the adagio and fugue in G minor. He might easily have feared beforehand that this austere music would be caviare to the general public. But, with such an interpretation to throw light on the construction of the work, on its essential majesty and beauty, even the philistines must have been converted.

Nowhere else in the programme was Huberman’s technical mastery more superbly illustrated. He brought to Bach that grand simplicity, that justness and solidity of architecture, which make such works seem inevitable and inspired. The voices in the fugue were perfectly separate; yet this effect was achieved by the most straightforward of means. The full, strong tone was in itself a delight. The great range of dynamics appeared in its full glory in one mighty double fortissimo near the end. This vivid climax surmounted, the player passed on to a flawless decrescendo which was almost startling in its suddenness and its dramatic intensity.

Mr. Huberman’s lovely pianissimo playing was admirably demonstrated in Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” sonata. In the Variations there are passages for the violin – laconic comments, while the piano dispenses the principal theme – which seldom really came to life in performance. On Saturday they seemed packed with significance. In these and other of Huberman’s less emphatic passages, one remained conscious of much more than a mere absence of loudness, of positive emotion and stress. Such moments had a curious intensity, as of communion with inward forces.

Mr. Gimpel, so brilliant in the Mendelssohn, here subdued his style perfectly to Beethoven’s more intimate requirements. “Subdued,” though, scarcely seems the precise word, so much life and movement did the piano contribute to a perfectly proportioned reading of the work.

The violinist’s treatment of the Mendelssohn concerto showed up still another aspect of his style; namely, the degree of melodic eloquence he can achieve while remaining with a hair’s breadth of strict metronomic exactness. The Andante offers every player a temptation to romanticize by giving the flowing themes a more elastic treatment, and, in the finale, a slight exaggeration of stress can impart more more[sic] outward bustle and vivacity. But Huberman achieved both the romanticism and the liveliness by simpler and greater means.

After the Mendelssohn, the audience heard two pieces by Karol Szymanowski. “Narcisse,” a tone-picture with a delicate Debussy-ish piano part, which Mr. Gimpel played enchantingly, proved to be a trifle long for the importance of its subject-matter. Perhaps the use of the mute in certain passages would have saved the situation by giving more variety of colour. But when Mr. Huberman put out his hand to take the little attachment from where it lay on the piano, it fell to the floor, and rolled away, and, after a moment or two of pause and search, the players had to proceed without it.

Szymanowski’s “The Fountain of Arethusa” was introduced to Sydney by Josef Szigeti. That violinist used to give it a more miniature interpretation than was the case on Saturday, but there is room for more than one view of the music, and, once again, it sounded splendid. Mr. Huberman then played his own transcription of the Chopin waltz, opus 64, No. 2. Every virtuoso seems to have some of these little self-made “arrangements” to offer. In this instance, it must be said that the waltz still sounds more effective as a piano solo. In the Brahms Hungarian dance in G minor, the violinist let himself go in a highly effective storm of excitement.

The encores at the end were the “Romanza Andaluza” of Sarasate, and a “Moment Musical,” of Schubert. After the Bach, Mr. Huberman played the Andante from Bach’s sonata in A minor.

The next concert by Huberman will take place to-morrow night, when he will play Handel Sonata in D Major, Bach Chaconne, Cesar Frank Sonata, Notturno e Tarantella (Szymanowski), Chopin-Huberman Mazurka, and Chopin-Huberman Waltz in E Minor. On Thursday night he will be soloist with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.


The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 June 1937

More Brilliant Playing
Second Recital

At his second recital in the Town Hall, Bronislaw Huberman last night deepened and enriched that impression of greatness which he had created on the previous Saturday.

The audience responded with warmth to the three major works on the programme – the Handel Sonata in D, the Bach Chaconne, and the Sonata by Cesar Franck. After the last of these the applause reached the proportions of an ovation. Mr. Huberman and his pianist, Mr. Jacob Gimpel, had to return many times to the platform, and an encore seemed inevitable. But the players wisely resisted. By reserving their extra numbers until the end of the programme they were able to leave the Cesar Franck as an isolated and unspoiled achievement.

It was an interpretation which will remain memorable. Although the sonata began in a style more subdued than is often the case, every phrase and every note held within it a singular nervous intensity. That is one of Huberman’s most remarkable qualities – he can fill his softer passages with just as direct and forceful a thrust of drama as he does the most surging fortissimo.

Presently the mood became more agitated. There were some glorious flourishes of melody as the violinist’s bow, always extraordinarily vital and biting in its attack, leapt at the salient phrases, rounded them out swiftly, and left them established as climaxes in the general contour of the music. The second movement was enunciated with grace and tenderness, and with a grave meditative serenity. Then in the latter part of the Allegretto the pent-up emotional forces burst forth in a veritable explosion of excitement. Mr. Gimpel played his part with fine authority throughout this highly romantic yet beautifully considered presentation.

The Bach Chaconne

In the Bach Chaconne, Mr. Huberman achieved a transcendent brilliance of dramatic colouring. Other great readings of the work have been heard in Sydney – notably that of Yehudi Menuhin – and some have differed considerably from that of last night. But Bach’s unaccompanied masterpiece is a work of such scope and richness that it can be looked at from many angles, and it seems imposing from all.

It must be recorded that Mr. Huberman’s tone had its moments of roughness. But such touches passed for nothing amid the imperious ruggedness, the urgent swirl and flight, of the whole conception of the work. Indeed, they were so uncompromisingly insisted upon that one imagined the player might have deliberately calculated them as an element in his gigantic scheme. Titans can break the rules which men of lesser gusto must perforce observe.

The dynamic range in this Chaconne – the sudden swoops from fortissimo to pianissimo and back again – were something to marvel at. The surprising thing was that, in the midst of all the excitement, Huberman maintained perfect smoothness and proportion among the interweaving voices.

To begin the programme, the players had attacked the Handel Sonata with forthrightness and eloquence. They ended with a Szymanowski Nocturne and two of Huberman’s arrangements of Chopin.


The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 June 1937

Huberman Appears With Orchestra
Extraordinarily Vivid Playing

Bronislaw Huberman gave an extraordinarily vivid performance of the Brahms D Major Concerto last night at the Town Hall.

One had known beforehand that his exposition of the music would be more than usually authoritative. For, many years ago, when he was 13 years old, he played the concerto to the entire satisfaction of the composer himself. What reached the audience’s ears last night, then, was that juvenile interpretation ripened and enriched by a whole lifetime of study and of keen intellectual and emotional development.

A crowded audience had gathered to hear the work; and at its close the violinist was greeted with a storm of applause. After returning twice to the platform, he responded with a brilliant performance of Bach’s unaccompanied Fugue in G Minor.

Under the baton of Dr. Edgar Bainton, the orchestral players launched, with sturdily dramatic effect, into the opening subject of Brahms’s first movement. But the spacious sweep of the strings seemed suddenly dwarfed when Huberman made his entrance at the place Brahms has skillfully prepared for the soloist. From that point onwards there was no relaxation in the powerful lunge and thrust of the themes. With his singular breadth and concentration of style; his commanding rhythm; and his radiant, singing tone, the violinist caused his part positively to tower above the orchestra structure. Energised by his example, the general body of players gave of their best: and this movement established an inspiring artistic standard.

Special mention must be made of the cadenza by Heermann. This displayed not only Mr. Huberman’s rugged strength, but also the amazing rapidity with which he can change the colouring of a phrase, and thus weave many gracious details into a rich and persistently developing pattern.

In the Adagio, there was a sincere and delicate statement of the mood – warm-hearted, but always clear in line. In these passages, which called for quiet yet fervent poetic feeling, the orchestra players found their task more difficult than in the opening Allegro. Still, they sustained the general impression; and, with Mr. Huberman to bring activities to a focus, this section of the concerto was also extremely striking. The Allegro Giocoso brought the work to a brilliant close.

Earlier in the evening, Dr. Bainton had conducted the Elgar transcription of Bach’s Fantasy and Fugue in C Minor, and the Beethoven Symphony N. 7, in A.


The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 June 1937 (reviewing Saturday 16th)

A Master Of Style
Brahms, Beethoven, Lalo

At no time during his Sydney season has Bronislaw Huberman illustrated more remarkably or more convincingly his superb mastery of style than he did on Saturday night in presenting the three major works in his programme at the Town Hall.

These three works were the Brahms’ Sonata in D Minor, the Beethoven in G Major, and Victor Lalo’s brilliantly coloured “Symphonie Espagnole.” To each of these, the two players, Mr. Huberman and Mr. Jacob Gimpel, made a completely different approach. The Brahms was imbued from end to end with a singular violence of passion. In the Beethoven, form was the principal consideration, though here, too, Mr. Huberman’s naturally impetuous temperament prevented any suspicion of coldness. As for the Lalo, that was a rich and complex study in national rhythm.

Not content with the masterpieces on the printed programme, the players added to the Brahms as an encore the Adagio from Mozart’s Sonata in E Flat Major (K. 481). This was in itself an enterprise of some magnitude. It might have been thought that the audience would show a touch of restlessness on being confronted with so spacious and ambitious a performance as an extra number, just before the interval. Not a bit of it. The whole movement was followed with breathless attention; and a roar of applause broke out at its close.

This Mozart, in fact, was one of the greatest delights of the evening. The opening passages, feather-light, but with every detail in surpassingly clear focus, set the standard for what was to follow. The emphasis was always admirably and exactly right. The piano part, gracious, delicate, and pearly, matched the melodic statements of the violin to a hair’s breadth. The whole conception danced and sang with life, while it remained always within the miniature frame of Mozart’s style.

The Mozart was a triumph of fragile grace, but it was the Brahms which really dominated the evening’s music. If anyone else had dramatized this work with the same degree of passionate abandon, had thus oscillated from moment to moment between the extremes of tempestuous declamation and wistful murmuring, the whole reading would have seemed hopelessly exaggerated. But Huberman somehow or other contrived to draw all these disparate details into a unified set of ideas. However, perilous the adventure may seem in retrospect, at the moment of listening one had no thought but for the emotional splendour of it all, the authoritative utterance of every individual theme. Mr. Gimpel rose brilliantly to the occasion. His periodic outbursts made majestic points of emphasis in a noble musical structure.

In the “Symphonie Espagnole,” the pianist made his part seem particularly important and varied. If there was a fault, it was that he sometimes under-emphasised, so that one had to strain to catch the finer details. This undue smallness of scale – and it asserted itself only occasionally – resulted obviously from a slight misjudgment of the acoustics in the Town Hall, and not from any lapse of taste.

In the Beethoven, the Adagio was specially persuasive, with its amply rounded melodies. In the variations of the last movement, Mr. Huberman succeeded triumphantly in retaining the original contour, the original rhythmic urgency, of the genial theme through all its remote transformations.

The programme had begun with a moving performance of the Bach organ prelude, “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland,” in Mr. Huberman’s own transcription.

The next concert will take place on Saturday night. On Thursday, July 8, Mr. Gimpel will give a solo recital at the Conservatorium.


The Sydney Morning Herald, 5th July 1937 (reviewing Saturday 3rd)

Another Triumph
Beethoven’s “Spring” Sonata

Bronislaw Huberman will appear with chamber orchestra to-morrow night; and on Thursday Mr. Jacob Gimpel will give a piano recital at the Conservatorium. But Saturday evening’s concert at the Town Hall was the final joint appearance of these two musicians during their present Sydney season.

It has been a distinguished collaboration. In concert after concert Mr. Gimpel has succeeded in matching the singularly stormy and dramatic playing of the violinist with a correspondingly vivid piano part. Where delicacy has been called for, he has encompassed that, too; and with enchanting effect. As an illustration, one need look no further than Saturday night’s “Spring” Sonata of Beethoven.

Mr. Huberman seemed particularly in the vein, and he and the pianist made this F Major Sonata into a musical fabric of singular grace and fineness. There was, indeed, the freshness of spring, with its tender aspirations, its mingling of fragrance and sweet melancholy, in the whole enunciation of the work. Each phrase glowed and shimmered beneath the bow. Nothing broke the spell of delicate yearning with a reference to the dust and heat of everyday thought.

Even so, by the most subtle means, the players obtained abundant contrast of tone. As far as Mr. Huberman was concerned, one would readily have ascribed this interpretation to an ardent, sensitive youth, standing on the threshold of life and looking forward into its imagined joys and rewards, rather than to the frail, tired-looking man in his middle fifties who was actually visible on the platform. To have preserved that freshness of outlook is Huberman’s greatest triumph.

The unaccompanied Bach, the Sonata in B Minor, was similarly filled with life and warmth. No matter how fleet the bowing – and in places Mr. Huberman provided quite a dazzling display of technical facility – the themes were just as richly rounded, the tone as even and opulent, as though all this had been the merest elementary exercise. Huberman’s is Bach-playing of supreme accomplishment. Sydney will not hear its like again; for though later visitors may carry Bach once more to the heights, they will do it by different means.

New Work By Hindemith

The beginning of the Bach sonata had sounded almost heavenly in its melodic warmth because these phrases followed hard on a somewhat joyless work by Paul Hindemith.

This composer’s Sonata in D may have been played before in Sydney; but there is no immediate record of it, and it was completely new to the great majority of Saturday’s audience. It is an early work, opus 11, No. 2. One accepted it as the music of a young man seeking for a style of his own, making tentative experiments; yet keeping everything within the frame of simple. Straightforward expression. As such, it proved to be worth hearing. Looked at, however, from the higher ground of comparison with the great masters, it offered no exciting prospect. It may be that a fourth hearing, or even a tenth, might reveal beauties which were obscure on Saturday night. If so, they would be beauties of intellectual form and proportion, rather than qualities which appeal to the emotions. For Hindemith’s melodies are dry and unpersuasive; his musical sentences disturbingly abrupt.

As the last group on the programme, Mr. Huberman played Smetana’s “Aus der Heimat,” a gay conglomeration of national tunes, and a Mazurka by Zarzycki, to which he imparted an impassioned elegance. There was also his own arrangement of the Chopin Waltz, opus 70, No. 1. The character of the music was considerably changed by transcription to the new instrument, and not for the better, but the audience seemed to enjoy the performance, for it clapped with might and main.

Final Concert Programme

At Bronislaw Huberman’s final concert at the Town Hall to-morrow night, when he will play with and conduct the A.B.C. Chamber Orchestra, the programme will include Bach Violin Concerto in A minor; Mozart’s Adagio in E minor; and Rondo in C major; Beethoven’s Romanze G; Bach’s Adagio and Fugue in C major, from the 5th Solo Sonata; and Mozart’s Violin Concerto in D major.


The Sydney Morning Herald, 7th July 1937

Plays With Chamber Orchestra
Eighteenth Century Charm

At his final concert in Sydney, Bronislaw Huberman played yesterday evening at the Town Hall with chamber orchestra instead of with piano. He himself was the conductor.

The last occasion on which local audiences had an opportunity of hearing any performances of a similar kind occurred in August, 1934, when Leff Pouishnoff presented three piano concertos. But Huberman’s choice of music was much more judicious than that of the earlier soloist-conductor had been, for the violinist confined himself to works by Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, whose light scoring and whose careful separation of the solo part from the orchestral mass dated from the historical period when the solo player was also the director. Pouishnoff’s choice was less judicious, for his three concertos – the Mendelssohn, the Liszt E Flat, and the Rachmaninoff C Minor – were each decidedly a task for specialized attention by the pianist.

Last night’s interpretations, then, afforded a delightful excursion into the eighteenth century style. There is no need to stress Mr. Huberman’s artistic accomplishments, after so many admirable demonstrations of them at his various recitals. In each reading he adapted his outlook perfectly to the work in hand. After a group, which comprised an Adagio in E Major and a Rondo in C Major of Mozart, and the Beethoven Romance in G, Opus 40, the audience responded with particularly warm applause. The leader of the orchestra, Mr. Lionel Lawson, leaned over to Mr. Huberman and was obviously urging him to give an encore. So the violinist announced that, at Mr. Lawson’s suggestion, the Rondo would be repeated.

This delightful short piece gave the orchestral players a chance to do some of their best work during the evening. They succeeded here in providing a gaily delicate melodic outline to match the superb enunciation of the soloist. But in the Bach A Minor Concerto (for strings and piano alone) and in the Mozart D Major they had also done some gracious work. The contrast between the gladsome, strongly-accented first Allegro in the Bach and the soberly reflective Andante of the same work was, for instance, complete and apparently easy of accomplishment. Throughout all this music Mr. Huberman gave the beat definitely and crisply where necessary, but entirely without demonstrative effects. It was interesting to notice with what an intimate, quiet air he treated his own part. This was something completely different from the customary brilliance of the virtuoso – something more homely and friendly; and not the less welcome for that.

The evening brought forward also the Adagio and Fugue from Bach’s unaccompanied Sonata No. 5 in C Major. It was a thrilling performance, mesmeric in its fiery concentration.


The Sydney Morning Herald, 9th July 1937

Jacob Gimpel

Brilliant Pianist
Conservatorium Recital

The large audience which assembled at the Conservatorium last night, to hear Mr. Jacob Gimpel, was rewarded by piano playing of exceptional accomplishment. It was playing which offered intellect as well as fire; massiveness as well as elegance. In fact, all the expectations which Mr. Gimpel had raised during his season with Mr. Huberman were fulfilled; and that is saying a good deal.

In an interview, three or four weeks ago, when he first arrived in Sydney, the pianist expressed a hope that he might play groups of pieces by Szymanowsky, and other modern composers, who interested him. But last night’s programme comprised such standard works as the Bach Toccata and Fugue in C Major; Beethoven’s Sonata, Opus 10, No. 3, in D Major, and the Chopin Sonata in B Minor. Its nearest approach to an adventurous excursion was a group which included two Scriabine Etudes and Debussy’s “L’Isle Joyeuse.”

Still, one could not wish a more handsome experience than to hear the Bach Toccata and Fugue worthily interpreted; and Mr. Gimpel’s reading made a noble introduction to the concert. Here, the listener could admire in their perfection the pianist’s enormous range of dynamic effects; his sparing but artful use of the pedal to give strokes of colour, his crystal-clear separation of the themes; his unfailing vitality; and his commanding dramatic sense, tempered always by a natural feeling for what was suitable in a work of this character. Once or twice in the quieter moments of the Toccata, a somewhat dry mode of enunciation obtruded itself, but these were mere touches, past almost as soon as noticed.

They were significant more as portents than as positive blemishes. For, in the slow movements of the next two works – the Beethoven and the Chopin – one perceived the Achilles’ heel in Mr. Gimpel’s otherwise triumphant equipment. That is, he showed some difficulty in sustaining effectively a mood of quiet and simple lyricism. The Chopin made a tremendous impression precisely through the quality which so much Chopin-playing lacks; namely, an emphasis on the forthright masculine side of the composer’s art. The first and last movements were a triumph of force and excitement; and the tender passages so flexibly interwoven held a singular potency by reason of the completeness of their contrast.

The D Major Sonata is not one of Beethoven’s most inspired works, though it has certain lovely embroideries of detail. Of these, Mr. Gimpel made a very great deal. It is open to argument that he over-dramatised the first movement; but the Menuetto and the Rondo were sheer joy.

In the last group, the Scriabine Etudes (D Flat Major and D Sharp Minor, Opus 8) provided a dazzling, almost breath-taking display of technical bravura. This was virtuoso playing of the first order. Albeniz’s “Triana” had the clear vivacity of sunlit water, and “L’Isle Joyeuse,” though unexpectedly lusty in expression, preserved Debussy’s essentially prismatic, fine-spun mode of thought.


The Argus, Melbourne, 12 July 1937 (reviewing Saturday 10th)

Huberman Concert
Endowed Musician
Enthusiastic Reception

A violinist of international reputation, the founder and organizer of the Palestine National Symphony Orchestra, a keen student of European history, and a musical educationist whose aims are both farsighted and liberal, Bronislaw Huberman received an ovation from the large audience at the opening concert of his Melbourne season on Saturday night.

This fine artist unites rare technical accomplishment with alert and penetrating musical judgment. His interpretations are the products of well-ordered thought. Both in the executive and in the emotional spheres he betrays an instinctive dislike of loose threads. His style is essentially compact, coherent, and carefully balanced. Animation is supplied by means of a greatly developed gift of rhythmical anticipation and by a profusion of sparkling and admirably timed accents. In his choice of tempi Mr. Huberman reveals equal sensibility and sense. The third movement of Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” sonata and the finale to the Mendelssohn concerto provide many a celebrated violinist with occasion for riotous and irrelevant speed. As presented on Saturday night, these sections retained formality and grace. Of legitimate brilliance, there was abundant evidence, but virtuosity at no stage outpaced reason.

The effect of purposeful vitality conveyed by Mr. Huberman is the more remarkable as, unlike most great string players, he places little reliance upon resonance and variety of colour. Defined by strictly aural standards, his tone lacks authority, and in the most dramatic musical utterance remains agreeable, cultivated, and well bred. Even in the “adagio and fugue” in G minor from Bach’s first sonata for unaccompanied violin – which produced a superb demonstration of rhythmical intrepidity and premeditation – the soloist made only occasional recourse to the alto quality of tone which is generally accepted as inevitable and indispensable. In like manner Mr. Huberman piled phrase upon phrase with such incisive thrusts of metrical accent as, without any corresponding vivacity of colour, gave to the first movement of the “Kreutzer” an overwhelming atmosphere of nervous tension and of emotional force. In the “andante” section of the Mendelssohn concerto the violinist’s essentially soprano timbre found ideal expression. Heartily recalled after the Bach sonata, Mr. Huberman added an equally impressive version of the unaccompanied “andante” from the similar work in C major.

By the presentation of two characteristic works of the late Karol Szymanowski, Mr. Huberman paid a fitting tribute to a distinguished compatriot, whose recent death in a Swiss sanatorium robbed Poland of her most notable composer since Frederic Chopin. For modernists in the audience, these items, “Narcisse” and “La Fontaine d’Arethuse,” provided the most interesting experiences of the evening, and the inherent charm and subtlety of the music were heightened by the polished and impeccable craftsmanship of Mr. Huberman.

Cleverly played accompaniments were supplied by Mr. Jacob Gimpel, who established friendly relations with Australian music-lovers during his previous tour with Erica Morini.


13th Tonight

Handel Sonata in D major, Bach Chaconne, Franck Sonata, Szymanowski Nocturne and Tarantelle, Chopin-Huberman Mazurka Op.7/3, Waltz in E minor.


The Argus, Melbourne, 14 July 1937

14th – talking of 10th –

Sir. – I was amazed at the extraordinary habits displayed by Melbourne concertgoers at the Town Hall on Saturday evening. Notwithstanding that at the conclusion the artist willingly gave two encores in reply to an enthusiastic demand, a large section of the audience took the first opportunity of leaving as the last chord of the Hungarian dance still hung on the air. I dislike the habit of attaching labels to cities, but feel that Adelaide’s sobriquet of City of Culture is almost deserved, as there such beahviour is unknown. Also, Adelaide does not need pointed hints to ensure silence between the movements of a sonata or a closely knit concerto as had to be given on Saturday evening. – Yours, &c.,

Adelaide Concert Subsriber

Kew, July 12.


15 July

Bach-Huberman Organ Prelude “Nun Komm, der Heiden Heiland”
Brahms Sonata in D minor, Op. 108
Beethoven Sonata in G Major, Op. 96
Lalo Symphonie Espagnole


The Argus, Melbourne, 16 July 1937

Great Sonata Playing
Bronislaw Huberman

Fine music, interpreted with a characteristic mingling of sobriety and ardour, was heard last night at the Town Hall when Bronislaw Huberman presented his third recital programme. Unlike many famous concert artists, Huberman is a great musical “all-rounder” who, whether as soloist or in the highly specialized role of ensemble player, reveals irreproachable control and taste. As exhibited last night, in conjunction with his accomplished pianist, Mr. Joseph Gimpel, the violinist possesses an impeccable sense of team work. The balance between the two instruments was invariably correct. Both technically and intellectually the Sonata in D minor of Brahms and the Beethoven example, Opus 96, provided impressive demonstrations of instrumental give and take. Both these works and the Lalo “Symphonie Espanole”[sic] gave Mr. Huberman abundant scope for executive display, but in the most brilliant sections this high-minded musician exhibited a noble disdain of showmanship. Wholly absorbed in his honourable task of interpretation, he presented such austere and finely modelled[sic] readings of the two classical sonatas as demanded from his audience a corresponding attitude of reverent concentration. The sincere and authoritative musicianship of Huberman was further displayed in his own transcription of the Bach organ prelude “Come, Thou Saviour of the Gentiles,” which preserved in every detail the grand solemnity of the original.

Presumably to comply with broadcasting arrangements the intervals between the items were much too long, and a section of the audience exhibited justifiable impatience.


The Argus, Melbourne, 19 July 1937 (reviewing Saturday 17th)

[The large audience for this concert took so long to be seated that even though the concert started 15 minutes late, many people listened to the first and second numbers standing just inside the doors. After the interval, Huberman joined the official party in the gallery to listen to the rest of the concert.]

Huberman’s Triumph

“Sold out” notices were displayed at the Town Hall on Saturday night, and some enthusiasts stood throughout the programme when Bronislaw Huberman presented the Beethoven concerto in collaboration with Professor Bernard Heinze and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.

For an artist of Huberman’s caliber concerto playing provides unrivalled scope for personal brilliance. Figuratively and actually the soloist occupies the center of the stage with an obedient orchestra as background. Virtuosity can in such circumstances achieve an easy triumph. The storms of applause by which audience and orchestra acclaimed Huberman at the conclusion of the Beethoven example were excited by no such facile display of talent. For this deeply serious Polish musician individual success is both too easily accomplished and too undignified an objective. In his handling of the concerto he made no concessions to popular taste, but followed the dictates of a rigorous artistic conscience without hesitation, evasion, or subterfuge. It was a great and memorable performance, and both conductor and orchestra participated worthily.

The purely orchestral section of the programme – for which Mr. Huberman remained as a member of the audience – included an interesting performance of the Elgar “Introduction and Allegro for Strings.” Characteristically adroit in its interweaving of instrumental timbres, this well-constructed work made obviously strong appeal to the Victorian String Quartet (Hyman Lenzer, Franz Schleblich, Mischa Kogan, and Don Howley) and to their collaborators, and the music received sound and pleasurable interpretation. The lyrical portions of Beethoven’s “Coriolan” overture were efficiently handled, and the pianissimo playing in the same composer’s Fifth Symphony was of excellent quality. Irregular gradations of tone in crescendos and a too frequent hiatus between the degrees of mezzo-frorte and forte prevented, however, artistic continuity in the first and fourth movements.



Respighi Sonata in B minor
Bach Adagio and Fugue in C from 5th Solo Sonata
Beethoven Sonata in F Major, Op. 24
Smetana “Aus der Heimat”
Chopin-Huberman Waltz, Op. 70
Zarzycki Mazurka


The Argus, Melbourne, 21 July 1937

Huberman Plays Beethoven

Beethoven’s “Spring” sonata made the deepest impression at the concert given last night at the Town Hall by Bronislaw Huberman. The mood in each of the four movements was conveyed with enchanting ease and spontaneity. Each phrase was illuminated by deft turns of expression which threw fresh and unsuspected light upon familiar details without disturbing the symmetrical balance of the whole. As associate pianist, Mr. Jacob Gimpel shared the honours of a fine performance.

The Sonata in B Minor by the late Ottorino Respighi came as a novelty to many music-lovers. As a medium for the strenuous intellectual activity of Huberman, this buoyant and colourful work was inadequate. The instrumental effectiveness of the writing made, however, an immediate impression, although the piani[sic] portions were occasionally over-assertive. With the Bach unaccompanied “Adagio and Fugue” in C major Huberman returned to his true artistic level. The elucidation of the complex rhythmical design in the fugal section represented an object lesson in musical draughtsmanship.



Hindemith Sonata in D Op. 11
Mozart Sonata in B Flat K 378
Brahms Sonata in G Op. 78
Schubert Fantasia Op. 159 in C


The Argus, Melbourne, 23 July 1937

Fifth Recital
Bronislaw Huberman

The programme presented last night at the Town Hall by Bronislaw Huberman was notable for the inclusion of a sonata by Paul Hindemith, whose ultra-modern tendencies have received so little official encouragement in Germany that the composer has accepted the post of resident musical adviser to the Government of Turkey.

An early work, the sonata in D reveals no iconoclastic features. Frank and unaffected romanticism pervades each of the three movements. Old-fashioned tunes and healthy rhythms provide agreeable entertainment. The interpretation supplied by Mr. Huberman and Mr. Jacob Gimpel was appropriately simple, good-humoured, and direct.

More exalted musical virtues found expression in the classical section of the programme. Vitality and repose were combined with superb effect in the Brahms Sonata in G, and Huberman’s finely developed sense of rhythmical design was displayed to full advantage in the slow movement of the Mozart example in B flat. A beautifully poised rendering of the Schubert “Fantasia” in C major brought the programme to a happy conclusion.


24th Saturday

Brahms Op.40
Tchaikovsky Op. 32
With the A.B.C. (Melb.) Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Prof. Bernard Heinze


The Argus, Melbourne, 26 July 1937 (reviewing Saturday 24th)

Huberman With Orchestra

Season Ends

Laden with laurel wreaths and surrounded by a cheering orchestra, Bronislaw Huberman brought his concert season to a triumphant conclusion on Saturday night. The violinist has given many fine performances in Melbourne, but on this occasion he surpassed his previous achievements. A programme devoted exclusively to violin concertos entailed for the soloist a heavy weight of responsibility, but throughout an onerous test of endurance Huberman maintained unflagging vitality of mind and body. Interpretations of such intellectual maturity as represented a lifetime of artistic endeavour and self-discipline were received with great enthusiasm by an audience composed largely of professional musicians.

To co-operate with so profound and exacting a musical scholar was no easy task for the A.B.C. (Melbourne) Symphony Orchestra. An inspired and inspiring teacher, Huberman spared no pains to ensure a well-balanced performance, however. His encyclopaedic knowledge of orchestral scores was placed unreservedly at the service of his less experienced colleagues. Each interpretative detail was subjected to such detailed analysis that the final rehearsal on Saturday morning lasted for more than four hours.

The popular conception of Delius as an enfeebled visionary found no echo in Huberman’s dynamic reading of the composer’s only violin concerto. Not alone a great musical performance, but a psychological study of significance and power, this interpretation revealed the authentic Delius, whose proud, secretive, and indomitable temperament rose superior to paralysis and loss of sight. In the rapid sections the orchestra experienced some uncomfortable moments, but in the exquisite slow movement Huberman displayed such flawless beauty of tone as inspired his colleagues to effects of genuine eloquence. By a brilliantly conceived stroke of programme-building, the fastidious art of Delius was contrasted with the facile romanticism of the Tchaikovsky concerto. No two works in similar genre reveal more dissimilar qualities or demand more strongly opposed methods of interpretation. In his handling of the good-humoured, garrulous Russian composition Huberman displayed superb versatility. The careful timing, which made his performance of the Delius concerto an object lesion in musical punctuation was exchanged for such spectacular breadth of rhythm as – with few exceptions – swept the orchestra from one exhilarating climax to another. The last movement provided Melbourne music-lovers with their first glimpse of Huberman, the care-free virtuoso, who, in technical enterprise, finds relief from more serious adventure.

A magnificently equipped interpreter of Brahms, Huberman invested the D major concerto with such ardent vitality of phrase as brought new life into the most hackneyed sections. This memorable concert ended in a sensational outburst of applause, and the cheers were redoubled when the violinist attempted to share his laurel wreaths with the conductor, Professor Bernard Heinze.

On this page: