(b Częstochowa, 19 Dec 1882; d Corsier-sur-Vevey, 15 June 1947). Polish violinist. He studied with Michałowicz and then with Isidor Lotto at the Warsaw Conservatory. His father took him to Berlin in 1892 with the vain hope of his studying with Joachim, who referred the boy to his assistant, Markees. In Berlin Huberman studied secretly with Charles Grigorovich whom he later claimed ‘taught him everything that could be learned from a teacher’. He then took a few additional lessons from Hugo Heermann in Frankfurt and Martin Marsick in Paris, but by then his artistry had already been acclaimed in the Netherlands and Belgium (1893), in Paris and London (1894). He attracted the attention of Adelina Patti, who engaged him for her farewell concert in Vienna in January 1895, when Huberman played Mendelssohn’s concerto and created a sensation, and in January 1896 he played Brahms’s concerto in the presence of the composer, who was greatly moved by the boy’s performance and gave him a photograph signed ‘from his grateful listener’. Following his first American tour (1896–7) he played with increasing success in Europe and the USA, being invited by the city of Genoa in 1903 to play the Guarneri violin once owned by Paganini. The city of Vienna put Hetzendorf Schloss at his permanent disposal from 1926. He also taught intermittently at the Vienna Music Academy. During the 1920s Huberman became interested in the idea of ‘Pan-Europa’; his articles and lectures on this topic were published in book form in 1932. When the Nazis took power in 1933 he cancelled all his engagements in Germany and in September explained his viewpoint in an open letter to Furtwängler. He undertook to assemble persecuted Jewish musicians in Palestine and organized the Palestine SO (from 1948 the Israel PO) in association with the conductor William Steinberg; the inaugural concert in 1936 was conducted by Toscanini. He revisited Palestine in 1940 and spent the war in the USA, after which he returned to his home in Switzerland. After his death his library and papers were transferred to the Central Music Library in Tel-Aviv, where a street is named after him.
Huberman’s greatness as a violinist is a controversial subject. He was admired by some eminent musicians (Toscanini, Furtwängler, Walter and Schnabel, among others) and deprecated by others, especially fellow violinists: Flesch criticized Huberman in his Memoirs as ‘the most remarkable representative of unbridled individualism’. Huberman was indeed a towering personality who could fuse glowing intensity and visionary sensitivity into a grand classical design. His tone had a haunting quality, particularly in infinite shades of pianissimo, but his technique was not infallible and under stress he could produce rough and scratchy sounds. Perhaps it is this aspect which has promoted criticism by those who regard technical virtuosity more highly than interpretative talent. Huberman’s ideas are summarized in a booklet Aus der Werkstatt des Virtuosen (Vienna, 1912). He also transcribed several Chopin and Schubert pieces.
‘Bronislaw Huberman, Violinist’, Musical Observer [London], ii (1911–12), 206–7
A. Gutmann: Aus dem Wiener Konzertleben (Vienna, 1914)
A. Herman: ‘Bronislav Huberman’, The Strad, xlii (1931–2), 530–32
A. Reifenberg-Rosenbaum: ‘Memoirs of Bronislaw Huberman’, The Strad, lviii (1947–8), 81–8
C. Flesch: Memoirs (London, 1957, 2/1958; Ger. orig., Freiburg, 1960, 2/1961)
I. Ibbeken, ed.: The Listener Speaks: 55 Years of Letters from the Audience to Bronislaw Huberman (Ramoth Hashawim, 1961)
J.W. Hartnack: Grosse Geiger unserer Zeit (Munich, 1967, 4/1993)
I. Ibbeken and T. Avni, eds.: An Orchestra is Born: the Founding of the Palestine Orchestra as Reflected in Bronislaw Huberman’s Letters, Speeches, and Articles (Tel-Aviv, 1969)
L.N. Raaben: Zhizn' zamechatel'nïkh skripachey i violonchelistov [The lives of famous violinists and cellists] (Leningrad, 1969), 178–91
J. Creighton: Discopaedia of the Violin, 1889–1971 (Toronto, 1974)
H. Roth: ‘Bronislaw Huberman: a Centenary Tribute’, The Strad, xciii (1982–3), 572–5
BORIS SCHWARZ/MARGARET CAMPBELL
Hubert, Christian Gottlob
(b Fraustadt [now Wschowa], 3 May 1714; d Ansbach, 16 Feb 1793). German maker of clavichords, organs, harpsichords and pianos, of Polish origin. He left Poland to work at Bayreuth in 1740 and in 1769 moved to Ansbach, where he had been appointed court instrument maker. Early in his life he built a number of organs: his earliest known instrument is a 1748 organ with five stops built for the Spitalkirche in Bayreuth. Meusel stated that his pianos were exported to France, England and the Netherlands, reckoning that while they were cheaper than English ones, they were equally good. His clavichords and pianos were deemed to be durable as well as beautiful in tone.
Hubert became one of the best-known clavichord makers of his time, and surviving instruments justify the praise of his contemporaries; most of these are clavichords (see Strack), including a number of fretted ones dating from as late as 1787. The Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, contains a small representative collection of Hubert's work including several clavichords and a transverse grand piano of 1785. The latter's compass is four octaves and a fourth and the action has no escapement. The compass of Hubert's clavichords varied from four octaves to five and a third octaves, the larger instruments dating from the 1770s. Johann Wilhelm Hoffmann (1764–1809), Hubert's assistant from 1789, took over the business on Hubert's death.
MGG1 (F. Krautwurst)
J.G. Meusel, ed.: Miscellaneen artistischen Inhalts, xxvii (Erfurt, 1786), 137
W. Strack: ‘Christian Gottlob Hubert and his Instruments’, GSJ, xxxii (1979), 38–58
F. Hellwig: Atlas der Profile: an Tasteninstrumenten vom 16. bis zum frühen 19. Jahrhundert (Frankfurt, 1985)
K. Vermeij: Christian Gottlob Hubert and his Clavichords (Bennebroek, 1989)
K. Vermeij: ‘A Contribution to Dating Hubert Clavichords’, De clavicordio (International Clavichord Symposium I) [Magnano 1993], ed. B. Brauchli, S. Brauchli and A. Galazzo (Turin, 1994), 171–8