Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bronislaw Huberman: Édouard Lalo's Symphonie Espagnole

Bronislaw Huberman performs from the first movement of Édouard Lalo's Symphonie Espagnole in D minor, opus 21, for violin and orchestra, with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, George Szell conducting, in a 1934 recording. Lalo [1823-1892], a French composer, wrote the work in 1874 for violinist Pablo de Sarasate, and  it premiered in Paris in February 1875. Although written as a symphony, it is considered a violin concerto by many performers today.


Bronislaw Huberman was known for his individualistic and personal interpretation. He was also the founder of the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra in 1936, in which Arturo Toscanini agreed to become its first conductor. Huberman had great aspirations for the orchestra, an obituary from The New York Times noted (June 17, 1947):
It was his plan to organize in Palestine one of the world’s greatest symphony orchestras. As a result of the anti-Jewish measures in Germany, the plan soon was under way, and many prominent German musicians, forbidden to perform under Nazi rule, went to Palestine and joined the organization. It was Mr Huberman’s idea to make of Palestine “a second and greater Salzburg.”

The plan was completed in December, 1936, when Arturo Toscanini conducted the first concert of the new Palestine Symphony Orchestra. The famous conductor said afterward that the orchestra had “lived up to its reputation.” It was because of Mr. Huberman’s invitation that Toscanini had agreed to conduct at Tel-Aviv.
It was renamed the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra when the State of Israel was created in 1948. Bronislaw Huberman died in Nant sur Corsier, Switzerland, on June 16, 1947.  He was 64.

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