Bronislaw Huberman;   Szell;   Steinberg          (Opus Kura 2103)
Item# S0549
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Bronislaw Huberman;   Szell;   Steinberg          (Opus Kura 2103)
S0549. BRONISLAW HUBERMAN, w.Szell Cond. Vienna Phil.: Symphonie Espagnole (Lalo), recorded 1934; Huberman, w.William Steinberg Cond. Staatskapelle Berlin: Concerto in D (Tschaikowsky), recorded 1928. (Japan) Opus Kura 2103. - 4582158681035

CRITIC REVIEW:

“Huberman was born in 1882, near Warsaw in Poland, the son of a Jewish lawyer. At the age of twelve he played the Brahms Concerto in Vienna, in the presence of Johannes Brahms himself, and the master embraced him after the performance. From this moment on, Huberman went from triumph to triumph, and his career as a prodigy was comparable to that of Yehudi Menuhin some thirty years later. When I heard Huberman for the first time, I was a mere boy, a budding violin prodigy myself. My excitement while waiting for the great man to appear on the stage was uncontrollable. Finally an invisible hand opened a door and Huberman stepped out on the stage. He did not walk; his flat feet shuffled along the floor. As he came closer I saw a small, balding man, with a bony head, a grotesquely protruding lower lip, and a big, impressively curved nose. He was flat-chested and had sloping shoulders. But the outstanding characteristic that struck everyone the moment they saw him, were his eyes. He was as wall-eyed as any man I have ever seen. One eye looked in one direction and the other looked completely in the opposite direction. When he appeared to be looking at one person, he invariably was looking at someone else, as I was to discover later on when I met him.

Huberman hardly smiled as he acknowledged the audience’s initial applause with a bow. He was intensely nervous and went through a number of agonizing motions before he could bring himself to settle down to the business of playing. First he produced a piece of rosin from his hind pocket and proceeded to draw the hair of the bow across it several times with unnecessary vehemence, surely a job that he could have done just as well backstage before the concert. Then he began to tune his violin, turning each peg. After he had tuned his violin thoroughly and loudly, he went back to putting on some more rosin, evidently oblivious to the fact that he had already done so. Then he repeated the tuning formula, producing sounds no member of the feline family could have improved upon.

Finally he appeared to be ready; he drew his violin up to his chin, at the same time striking out with his bowing arm. And in this self-same instant an incredible transformation took place. He had closed his eyes and he was no longer wall-eyed. He had raised his violin Heavenwards, and his whole body seemed to participate in this Heavenward upsurge. There was no longer a flat-chested little man with sloping shoulders. Huberman had become all spirit, a divine messenger of the world’s greatest music. A wave of exaltation seemed to engulf him and his listeners alike. He achieved the incredible paradox of being grotesquely homely in repose and superbly beautiful in action. From Brahms onwards, all the greatest musicians and intellects of the age had acclaimed him as one of the greatest artists of their time.

He must have been about fifty when his plane crashed while on a tour of Indonesia, sometime around 1930. The plane crashed into a tree, and among those who survived was Huberman. Every bone in every finger in both hands had been broken. For two years he suffered grievously both physically and mentally. Huberman’s career as a concert violinist seemed ended forever. With the mad obstinacy of a man incapable of realizing that he is defeated, Huberman underwent treatments of every imaginable kind. He had daily massages. He devised painful exercises for his fingers and his hands, which he carried out for hours on end, day in, day out. Two years later I heard him again, when he resumed his career in Holland. He played more beautifully than ever. During the two years of his enforced idleness he had gone through a purifying process, both technically and emotionally. The concerts which he gave during the following years were among the most memorable of his entire career.”

- Henri Temianka, ETUDE, Feb., 1957