An absorbing and useful but bare-bones account of how a musician’s vision helped save nearly 1,000 lives.

BRONISLAW HUBERMAN

FROM CHILD PRODIGY TO HERO, THE VIOLINIST WHO SAVED JEWISH MUSICIANS FROM THE HOLOCAUST

This nonfiction account, first in the middle-grade Groundbreaker series, explains how a Polish Jewish violinist helped saved the lives of Jewish musicians and their families from Nazis.

Bronislaw Huberman (1882-1947), born in Poland, was a child prodigy on the violin by the time he was 9 and soon after toured Europe and the United States. When he was 13, Huberman played Brahms’ music at a concert whose audience included “Gustav Mahler, Anton Bruckner, Johann Strauss and Johannes Brahms himself….Huberman played so beautifully that Brahms, reportedly, cried with joy.” Growing up, Huberman became a world-touring concert violinist (including performing in then Palestine) and had his first encounter with political oppression in World War I. He was playing in Berlin when war was declared, and as a Polish citizen, he was considered an enemy of the state. Luckily, the German crown princess appreciated Huberman’s talent and got him released, but the experience turned him into an anti-war activist. Hitler’s rise introduced many anti-Semitic laws, such as one that barred Jewish musicians from performing. Because he was a great and famous musician, Huberman was nevertheless invited to play with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, an invitation he angrily refused in a 1933 letter published in the New York Times. As anti-Semitic violence in Europe rose, Huberman decided to take action by raising money for a new orchestra in Palestine that would offer refuge to escaping Jewish musicians. Auditions that were “competitive, emotional and tense” took place all over Europe; Huberman got financial and political help from the likes of Albert Einstein and David Ben-Gurion. In 1936, 50-plus Jewish musicians and their families sailed to Palestine for a new life. “Today, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the greatest orchestras in the world, and, as Huberman had hoped, the leading cultural ambassador for the state of Israel,” writes Aronson. Huberman settled in New York in 1940, dying in Switzerland seven years later without having seen Palestine again.  For his debut book, Aronson—a former journalist—interviewed original members of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; also included in this volume are a selected bibliography and photo credits, useful information for researchers. The book feels somewhat light at only 50 pages, mainly providing highlights and apt quotations. The main story does convey the fascinating details of how the orchestra was conceived, paid for, and staffed, but it may not bring Huberman and his heroism alive for middle-grade readers. Aronson notes, for example, that Huberman faced difficult choices as musicians auditioned for their lives (and their families’), but he sounds remote and chilly: “ ‘In art there can be no mercy and no comprise,’ he wrote to a friend.” More time could have been spent on episodes from Huberman’s biography, such as his musical education, the nature of his musical gifts, or his personal life; Aronson doesn’t mention, for example, Huberman’s marriage and divorce. Still, this is an exciting, relatively unknown historical account that warrants attention.

An absorbing and useful but bare-bones account of how a musician’s vision helped save nearly 1,000 lives.

Pub Date: July 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73207-751-5

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Double M Books Inc.

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2018

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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