Bronislaw Huberman

Biography

Born: December 19, 1882; Czestochowa, Poland   Died: June 16, 1947; Corseaux-sur-Vevay, Switzerland  
Bronislaw Huberman was one of the towering figures among violinists of his generation. Yet despite lavish praise from Fürtwangler, Toscanini, Walter, and other major conductors and artists, he remained a controversial artist throughout his career, owing to his highly individual style of interpretation and to a technique that, while not weak or unimpressive, lacked the consistency in difficult passages of the finest virtuosos.

Huberman
Read more was the son of a law clerk who was a good amateur musician himself. As a young child, Huberman showed remarkable talent, giving his first public concert at age seven. He studied with Michalowicz and Rosen, then at the Warsaw Conservatory with Isidor Lotto, all before he reached the age of ten. In Berlin, Joachim was impressed with the youth's talent, but not disposed toward teaching prodigies. He referred him to Markees, but it was, by Huberman's own assessment, his study in Berlin with Charles Grigorovich that honed his talents. At the age of 11, he gave a successful concert tour of Holland and Belgium and soon afterward gained the support of arts patron Count Zamoyski in Paris and singer Adelina Patti in London. The former presented him with a Stradivarius and the latter, after some wrangling, allowed him to play at some of her final concerts. At a January 1896 concert in Vienna, Huberman astonished Brahms with a performance of his violin concerto and by his late teens, he had scored numerous successes throughout Europe. He had even given one hugely successful tour of the United States in 1896-1897. In 1902, following a lengthy suspension of concert activity, Huberman suffered a great loss with the passing of his father, who had given up his law clerk position and sacrificed much else for his son's career. Huberman soon resumed concertizing with numerous successful tours. His only marriage came in 1910, to actress Elza Galafrés. Their union lasted but four years and produced one child, Johannes (born 1911). At the outbreak of World War I, Huberman was briefly interned, but he remained active throughout the next two decades, curtailing his schedule in 1933 with the rise of the Nazis. In the 1920s, Huberman became an active supporter of the Pan-European movement, even writing several essays later published in a book entitled Vaterland Europa (1932). He refused to play any concerts in Germany from 1933 on and in 1935 helped found the Palestine Symphony Orchestra (which in 1948 became the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra). Toscanini was engaged to lead this ensemble of mostly Jewish refugee musicians in their 1936 inaugural concert. Huberman went on tour that same year and during a concert given in New York's Carnegie Hall, his Stradivarius violin was stolen. (In 1985, the thief confessed his deed and two years later the instrument was recovered, but four decades after Huberman's death.) The purloined violin was a relatively minor misfortune for Huberman during the turbulent 1930s: a 1937 plane crash rendered him incapable of playing for over a year. In November 1938, he successfully returned to the concert stage in Egypt, and the following month he appeared as soloist with the Palestine Symphony Orchestra for the first time in his career. After a tour of Europe in 1939, Huberman relocated to New York, where he lived until the end of the war. Following cessation of hostilities, he took up residence near Lake Geneva, Switzerland. In 1946, he became ill and was unsuccessfully treated in Italy for six months. Huberman died in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, in 1947. Read less

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