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Huberman, Bronisław

(1882–1947), violinist. Bronisław Huberman was born in Częstochowa, Poland and was a child prodigy who began to take violin lessons at the age of six. He appeared in public for the first time a year later, playing at a benefit concert for the poor. Huberman studied violin in Warsaw, with, among others, Isidor Lotto at the Warsaw Conservatory. He began to study with Joseph Joachim in Berlin in 1892, and also took lessons briefly with Hugo Heermann in Frankfurt and Martin Marsick in Paris.

As a youth, Huberman combined study with frequent public appearances throughout Germany, Austria, Holland, and Belgium. At his concerts in Vienna in 1896, the audience included Antonin Dvorak, Gustav Mahler, Anton Bruckner, Johann Strauss, and Johannes Brahms. In 1896, he made his debut at Carnegie Hall in New York City. After returning to Europe, he produced his first recordings in 1900. In 1903 and again in 1908, he was invited to play Paganini’s violin in Genoa. In 1912, Huberman published Aus der Werkstatt des Virtuosen (In the Workshop of the Virtuoso), in which he discussed the role of a performer of his caliber.

The bloodshed of World War I triggered Huberman’s interest in politics. Convinced that peace could only be achieved through European unification (modeled on the economic and political integration of the United States), he became involved in the Pan-European movement. He toured the United States repeatedly in the 1920s, explaining his political ideas in Mein Weg zu Paneuropa (My Road to Pan-Europa; 1924). In 1929, Huberman visited Palestine for the first time, where he was enthusiastically received. With Hitler’s rise to power, Huberman decided not to return to Germany and rejected an offer of employment by conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler. In September 1933, Huberman published a letter in German, French, and English, explaining his motives in defense of universal European culture and freedom. In 1936, he also published an “Open Letter to German Intellectuals” denouncing Nazism.

In the early 1930s, Huberman took on the responsibilty of creating a symphony orchestra in Palestine. To that end, he organized the American Association of Friends of the Palestine Orchestra, with Albert Einstein as its chair, and in 1936 founded the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra in Tel Aviv with refugees from Europe. The orchestra made its debut under Huberman’s leadership. Huberman left for America in 1940. He returned to tour Europe after the war and died at Nant-sur-Corsier in Switzerland. His archives were placed in the Central Music Library in Tel Aviv.

Suggested Reading

Marian Fuks, “Doskonałość i uduchowienie: Bronisław Huberman (1882–1947),” in Księga sławnych muzyków pochodzenia żydowskiego, pp. 152–154 (Poznań, 2003); Władysław Hordyński, “Huberman (Hubermann) Bronisław,” in Polski słownik biograficzny, vol. 10, pp. 77–78 (Wroclaw, Warsaw, and Kraków, 1962–1964).