Early years / Patti’s farewell / Viennese triumph / Brahms listens / America 1896 / Paganini’s violin / Marriage / World War I / America 1921 / Europe 1925 / Political tension / Riots in Vienna / Stolen Strad / Palestine / World War II / Liberation

Riots in Vienna

On Monday 12 February 1934 in Zagreb, while touring Yugoslavia, Huberman heard about the violent riots in Vienna, and his concert scheduled that Friday in Vienna was cancelled. Under martial law most public places were closed at 8pm, including the opera house and concert halls. Musical activity had virtually ceased, but as conditions calmed, Huberman planned a concert for the aid of the victims of the riots, on the condition that the government agreed that proceeds be divided evenly between the government soldiers and the workers. On Sunday 18th a daytime concert at the Grosse Musikvereins-Saal was announced, but advertisements and handbills described it as a benefit concert for the families of the dead government soldiers. At the concert Huberman played a first item, and then left the stage so late-comers could take their seats. On returning he announced to the audience that he had no intention of playing for the benefit of the government troops, and that the concert was for the aid of all victims, irrespective of party or politics. “I am playing today without fee but for the victims among the population of Vienna” he said. The storm of applause from the audience, most of whom would not have been from the working class, lasted for eight minutes.

Although Huberman’s reputation in Vienna had always been huge (a concert announced six months in advance would invariably immediately sell out), his courageous political stance was gaining him even more notoriety. For his Beethoven and Mendelssohn concerto performance with the Philharmonic on 27 March, “strongarm tactics were scarcely strong enough to propel ticket holders through the jam of humanity in the large auditorium of the Konzerthaus.” Bruno Walter was creating similar pandemonium – although he could rarely sell out the New York Philharmonic, his Staatsoper concerts were packed to “gasping suffocation,” and the lights had to be extinguished before the last screaming enthusiasts would leave.

In June Huberman recorded concertos by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Lalo, with the Vienna Philharmonic. The project had to overcome several difficulties, including transporting George Szell who was conducting the Beethoven and Mozart, between Vienna and Prague each day. From the end of August 1934 to mid-May 1935 Huberman embarked upon an extensive concert tour of Europe, the United States, and Canada.

Grosser Konzerthaus-Saal, 8 Oct 1934

Grosser Musikvereins-Saal, 15 Nov 1935

Walter and Huberman, Vienna 1935

London, c. 1935

London, c. 1935

Top photo: 1935

Walter and Huberman photo by Fenichel, Vienna, 1935