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My name is Avior Byron and I am a musicologist, blogger and composer. I write books, articles and a blog about music, performance, research, and theory. Read more at my about page

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Huberman Communicating with Bach: reviews from Australia

H. Brewster Jones of The Advertiser, Adelaide, Australia wrote on 4 August 1937: ‘Huberman seemed detached, aloof, in his playing of the Bach ‘Chaconne’. His beauty of tone and phrasing was something to revere at a distance rather then enter into. It had a classical purity and spiritual exaltation. It was as if Huberman was communicating with, in intimate fashion, the very innermost thoughts and feelings of the great composer, Bach; without making any concession whatsoever to what might be termed popular appeal.’ 

The Daily News from Perth, Australia wrote on 12 August 1937 an article on Huberman. They dedicated almost half of it to a concert incident were he had to stop the concert due to noise of motor cars that came from the street. He complained that there was only one set of doors that separated the concert hall from the street. A subtitle in the article was entitled: ‘Beware of the Gods’. At this part Huberman told the reporter about a similar incident in Kursaal Theater in Cairo. He claimed that although the Egyptian Government tried to take care of the problem, the theater was burned down. "So beware of the wrath of the Gods of music!" said Huberman to the reporter. Perhaps Huberman was half joking. Nevertheless, his demand for silence during performance (including his complementing the audience for not coughing during the concert) and his reference to ‘the Gods of music’ is telling.
 
Howard Ashton of The Sunday Sun and Guardian Magazine (Australia) wrote on 4 July 1937 that Huberman said that ‘Art… is the philosophy of the soul.’ To make music like Beethoven, Huberman argued, it is not sufficient to have talent; ‘A man must devote himself, must sacrifice himself. To be a musician one must be a prophet.’ He suggested that ‘great music’ lasted from Bach to Brahms’ and that ‘An age which is suspicious of emotion and romance and sacrifice is not an age fertile in great art. Plenty of clever art, but little great. But I think that there are signs that the people are beginning to get tired of it, and wish to go back to something that springs more from the heart and soul.’ Then Huberman reveals to which target he pointed his arrows: ‘Machine made art can never really satisfy.’
            Ashton wrote that Huberman approaches music ‘as Gerardi once told me he approached the Haydn ‘Cello Concerto, "with fasting and prayer." His bow is a sward in the eternal crusade for that which is true and beautiful, his violin an instrument for voicing the thoughts and emotions of the great men who have created beauty for his expression. He dedicates his artistic powers to something more austere and more moving than dazzling effects and specious appeals to wonder and admiration.

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