A 300-year-old violin with a tale to tell takes the stage , Am-Pol Eagle

When Joshua Bell performs with Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on Saturday, Sept. 17, the violin once owned by famed Jewish Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman will be on stage as well.

Bell is kicking off the BPO’s season with the Gibson ex Huberman Stradivarius used by Huberman, a violin prodigy who lived from 1882-1947.
Huberman was born in Częstochowa, Poland. In his youth, he was a pupil of Mieczyslaw Michalowicz and Maurycy Rosen at the Warsaw Conservatory, and of Isidor Lotto in Paris. As a violinist, he became known for his virtuosity and daring interpretations. He would go on to create the Palestine Orchestra in 1936.

In 1919, the Stradivarius, one of a handful made in 1713 by Antonio Stradivari in Cremona, Italy, was stolen from Huberman in Vienna. It was recovered when police caught the thief trying to sell it. When it was stolen a second time, during a concert at Carnegie Hall in 1936, Huberman would never see it again.

In an essay titled “The Huberman Violin”, Bell explains how he came about the violin at the famous violin shop J & A Beare in London in 2001. Bell wrote: “He [Charles Beare] told me that it was the famous Huberman Strad, and of course I was instantly intrigued.”

As Hitler rose to power, Huberman raised funds and auditioned musicians from across Europe for the Palestine Orchestra enabling many to escape the coming Holocaust by obtaining the nearly impossible-to-get exit visas from their homeland to Palestine.

Bell stated in his essay, “This violin is special in so many ways. It is overwhelming to think of how many amazing people have held it and heard it. When I perform in Israel with the Israel Philharmonic, I am always touched to think how many of the orchestra and audience members are direct descendants of the musicians Huberman saved from the Holocaust – with funds raised by concerts performed on the very same instrument I play every day.”

The concert with Huberman’s 300 year old violin takes place at 8 p.m. Sept. 17 and will be conducted by JoAnn Falletta. Bell will perform Bruch’s Violin Concerto; works by Manuel de Falla, Rimsky-Korsakov and Goyesca are also on the program. Tickets are available at bpo.org or by calling 885-5000. It’s also the Opening Night Gala, and dinner/dessert reception tickets are still available.