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Avior Byron will present a paper 'Huberman as Beethoven' in the 2010 Israel Musicology Conference.   

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More newspaper clippings about Huberman’s violin playing

The Manchester Guardian wrote on 24 April 1933 that the ’sudden, violent plundege into the scherzo [of Beethoven’s G majour Sonata] came as though we had escaped a revelation which it is not for mortals to know’.

Neville Cardus wrote on 23 February 1934 (The Manchester Guardian) about a forthcoming concert of Huberman in aid of German refugees from the Nazi regime:
‘Kriesler, who has never rebelled against his own beauty pf line and form, has entered into disillusionment through as sort of satiety. Art cannot live on its own perfections; the artist must shed skin after skin… until you have heard Huberman in the slow movement of the Beethoven Violin Concerto you can scarcely be said to have heard it at all. He brings to it a wonderfully shaded tone, quite yet of spiritual intensity, a tone which, as he plays his fiddle, Huberman himself seems to be overhearing, as though the music came from some withdrawn place of meditation.’ Cardus went on to write about how Huberman affects the form of the piece with his playing: ‘in the rondo … he will make the music much more than a pretty gambol, a conventional rounding of off the work. He exults in the tough energy he brings to the rhythm; he trashes his instrument, shakes the patterns of classical form until the playing becomes a daemonic protest against formalism. Yet the same artist will give you Bach pure and absolute. He is the most uninhibited violinist; he is not afraid of any mood that may come over him. He is not afraid, even, of playing badly. His gospel, in art and in all the ways of his varied life, is freedom.’
There is much one can learn about how Cardus perceived Huberman from the way he compared the violinist to other musicians. On 26 February 1934 he compared Huberman to Heifetz. Here too he describes Huberman as a ’searching spirit, not to be satisfied by such external things as sensuously satisfying fiddling.’ For Cardus, Heifetz is Huberman’s antithesis, since he ‘lacks vivid, changeful life, and there is not in his art anywhere that enigma which is the mark of the finest imagination… Heifetz lacks a daemon… There is nothing difficult to comprehend in his art.’ Cardus claimed that the older Huberman grows the more he ’seems to pursue some private truth of self-expression, as though searching in music for a freedom of spirit not to be got out of the external universe. A more inhibited violinist never lived. Sometimes the limitations of his medium seem to stir a divine impatience in him; then he will achieve what few artists ever dare to venture – the tone that rebels and protests against the eternal complacence of beauty, whose very order and fulfillment are finite, and, therefore, irksome to the creative spirit.’ He describes Huberman’s performance of the beginning of Beethoven’s Kreuzer Sonata as ‘mystical’. Cardus sums up his review by articulating ‘the old problem of all artistic activity’: ‘How far may a master pursue truth without infidelity to his medium, and how far does absorption in his medium tend to imprison imagination and make a routine of it?’
New York Times, 31 December 1934, Olin Downes:
‘Mr. Huberman played the fiery introduction, the great fugue and the lesser movements of the G-minor sonata with an eloquence that reveled the spirit as well as the mind of Bach … more virtuosity than ever.’
Cincinnati Enquirer, 1 December 1943, George A. Leighton
The New York Herald-Tribune of 20 February 1935 wrote about Huberman’s performance of the Brahms concerto. It suggested that ‘the wraith of the composer had he been listening from some fourth-dimensional box , might excusably have droped an astral tear or two upon his beard.’
B. H. Haggin from Brooklyn, N. T. Eagle wrote on 25 February 1935 about a recital of Huberman and Schnabel. He suggested that during the Brahms sonata in D minor ‘Huberman seemed to be trying to do things with the music, and did things that were unnatural and sometimes in shocking taste.’ However, in their performance of ‘Beethoven’s sonata in G. Op. 96, one found oneself in a new world… Huberman’s playing was itself something beyond mere violin playing. It had, in fact, nothing to do with violin playing as produced by other violinists… One recognized that Mr. Winthrop Sargeant had been correct in reporting … [that] Huberman "seemed to be straining every physical capacity of the violin as an instrument in an attempt to produce an interpretation that transcended its limitations."’
O. T. of The New York Times wrote on 24 February 1935 that ‘Huberman communicated at the opening [of Schubert’s C major "Fantasie"] a vision as of another world.’                  

Related posts

Bronislaw Huberman’s faith: the affect of events on the perception of performance

Reviews of Huberman by Neville Cardus, part II: technique and spirit

Huberman and the divine: concert reviews by Neville Cardus

Huberman and the Divine: letters from listeners

Huberman and the divine: report by Edmondo De Amicis

Max Brod on Bronislaw Huberman’s violin playing


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