Bronislaw Huberman, born in Częstochowa in 1882, was a world-renowned and well-travelled Polish Jewish violinist. He trained at the revered Warsaw Conservancy, in Paris, and in Berlin among the most significant musicians of the 19th century. Having travelled Europe and North American during the 1920s and early 1930’s, Huberman collaborated with musicians including Siegfried Schultze, performing on the world’s preeminent stages, including Carnegie Hall in New York.
In 1929 Huberman’s travels brought him to Palestine where he was inspired to bring classical music to the area. His vision became the “materialization of the Zionist culture in the Fatherland” when in 1936 The Palestine Orchestra came to fruition. Amidst rising tensions, Bronislaw Huberman persuaded 75 of the world’s finest Jewish musicians from major orchestras across Europe to flee persecution by immigrating to Palestine to join the Orchestra. In all, his efforts are believed to have saved the lives of nearly 1,000, include the musicians and their families.
For the inaugural performance, held at Levant Fair in Tel Aviv on December 26, 1936, Huberman invited famed Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini to lead the performance. The invitation for collaboration came when Huberman became aware that Toscanini had refused to perform in Germany in protest to the rise of the Third Reich.
In all, the Orchestra performed 140 times for Allied soldiers during World War II, including a poignant 1942 performance for soldiers of the Jewish Brigade at El Alamein. In 1948, upon the creation of the state of Israel, the Orchestra was renamed the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
Like so many cultural institutions, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra has taken the opportunity during the COVID-19 pandemic to reach beyond their physical walls. Enjoy a particularly beautiful session of their Digital Chamber Music Series, filmed without an audience, here.