Evgeny Kissin performs Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, opus 11, with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Zubin Mehta conducting, for the orchestra's 75th anniversary concert in Tel Aviv, on December 24th, 2011.
The precursor to the Israel Philharmonic was the Palestine Symphony Orchestra, whose driving force and inspiration was violinist Bronisław Huberman; its first concert took place in Tel Aviv on December 26, 1936, and was conducted by Arturo Toscanini. In a review article of a 2012 documentary film (“Orchestra of Exiles”), revealing Huberman’s inspiring and noble efforts, Nicolas Rapold writes in The New York Times (“Ensemble of Expatriates”; October 25, 2012) why it was so imperative for an orchestra to be established in then-Palestine:
Already safely re-established abroad as an international star, the Polish-born Huberman turned his idealistic energies on a project that grew ever more urgent in the 1930s. Through his energetic efforts the forced exodus of Jewish musicians from Europe made for a new musical dream team in 1936, the Palestine Symphony Orchestra, ultimately conducted by his fellow objector Arturo Toscanini. (It later became the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.)
Cultural pride and the near-certain prospect of his colleagues’ death drove Huberman into becoming a savior, perhaps recalling his teenage role as bread-winning child prodigy. And “Orchestra of Exiles” demonstrates the very concrete way in which culture is preserved and maintained, with transmission and human survival becoming intertwined realities.
|First Performance: Arturo Toscanini, left, and Bronislaw Huberman in 1936, from the documentary “Orchestra of Exiles.”|
Photo Credit: Felicja Blumental Music Center Library/First Run Features
With such historical knowledge, it becomes easier to understand, as one site says, why the orchestra has every good reason to celebrate such a milestone event:
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra—a cultural icon of Israel and one of the greatest classical ensembles in the world—celebrated its 75th Birthday on December 26th, 2011 together with three outstanding soloists of the younger generation – Julian Rachlin, Evgeny Kissin and Vadim Repin. The concert took place in the spectacular Hangar 11 at the harbor in Tel Aviv. Zubin Mehta conducted a spectacular programme of Saint-Saëns, Bach, Chopin, Chausson and Beethoven.****************
You can view a trailer of “Orchestra of Exiles” here; and you can view a vintage video of Bronislaw Huberman playing Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat major, opus 9, No. 2, here.