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Huberman's spirit lives on. Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra Photo: Dan Forges
Huberman's spirit lives on. Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra Photo: Dan Forges
 
 

Americans enjoy tale of Jewish musicians

'Orchestra of Exiles' documentary tells moving story of Bronislaw Huberman's determination to save lives of hundreds of Jewish musicians during Holocaust

jn1.tv
Published: 11.28.12, 13:04 / Israel Culture

VIDEO - The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra is performing in five American cities, including at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

 

Across town, in several theaters, a documentary about the orchestra's history has premiered. It tells the story of Bronislaw Huberman, his orchestra, and his determination to save the lives of hundreds of Jewish musicians from the Holocaust.

 

Video courtesy of jn1.tv

 

Huberman himself was an exemplary violinist. A child prodigy from Poland who refused to play in Nazi Germany. Himself a Jew, he spent two years assembling his orchestra in Palestine.

 

Most people don't know his story. That's one of the reasons Josh Aronson took his film "Orchestra of Exiles" to Los Angeles – creating a buzz in one of the busiest and biggest cities.

 

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According to "Orchestra of Exiles" filmmaker Josh Aronson, "Los Angeles is a wonderful audience for us because there's so much interest here in culture and there's a large Jewish community."

 

Aronson spent three years researching Huberman's life.

 

"No one knew that concentration camps were coming. No one knew a Holocaust was coming on the scale that we saw. But he could see there was a great danger to Jews in Central Europe."

 

Musicians were being fired for being Jewish. Huberman auditioned them and only chose the best. He was allowed to employ only 70 musicians in Palestine, and they could bring their families.

 

"We think that Huberman saved almost 1,000 Jews, which is the same number as Schindler," says Aronson.

 

Huberman had some help, of course, from an unlikely cast of characters including a high ranking Nazi official, and even Albert Einstein.

 

Huberman died in 1947 and months later, when the State of Israel was established, the organization changed its name to the Israeli Philharmonic.

 

Although the orchestra today knows Huberman's story, this new documentary surprised even its conductor, Zubin Mehta.

 

"He gave up two years of playing to concentrate on this immigration, convincing people," says Mehta. "Because many of them didn't want to leave and some even went back and perished. That's a fact I didn't know about."

 

Even now, the Orchestra will occasionally experience hostility.

 

"Like England," says Mehta. "We went there last year and there were demonstrations outside and inside the hall, which is rare though."

 

The film "Orchestra of Exiles" shows how Huberman stood up against intolerance when almost no one else would, and the Israeli Philharmonic continues to do so.

 

"The public is always won over at the end of the concert," says Mehta.

 

Huberman's spirit lives on in the musicians of the Israeli Philharmonic. And one of the musicians now plays Huberman's violin. It's a violin that was twice stolen. And it shows just how important Huberman remains to the orchestra.

 

 

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