Arthur Rubinstein, 1887 – 1982

January 28, 1887 – Birthdate of Arthur Rubinstein.

Rubinstein was a Polish American classical pianist. He received international acclaim for his performances of the music written by a variety of composers and many regard him as the greatest Chopin interpreter of his time.  He was described by The New York Times as one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century.  He played in public for eight decades.

While he was an agnostic, Rubinstein was nevertheless proud of his Jewish heritage.  He was a great friend of Israel, which he visited several times with his wife and children, giving concerts with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, recitals, and master classes at the Jerusalem Music Centre. In 1949, Rubinstein—who lost family members in the Holocaust—along with other prominent musicians (including Horowitz and Heifetz) announced that he would not appear with the Chicago Symphony if it engaged the conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, who had remained in Germany during the war.  (Yehudi Menuhin was upset with this boycott, declaring that some of the main organizers had admitted to him that they had organized it only to eliminate Furtwängler’s presence in North America)

Throughout his life, Rubinstein was deeply attached to Poland. At the inauguration of the United Nations in 1945, Rubinstein showed his Polish patriotism at a concert for the delegates. He began the concert by stating his deep disappointment that the conference did not have a delegation from Poland. Rubinstein later described becoming overwhelmed by a blind fury and angrily pointing out to the public the absence of the Polish flag. He then sat down at the piano and played the Polish national anthem loudly and slowly, repeating the final part in a great thunderous forte. When he had finished, the public rose to their feet and gave him a great ovation.  (from Wikipedia)

In 1986, Israel released a stamp with three portraits of Rubinstein drawn by Pablo Picasso:

arthur-rubinstein-israel-picasso 1986.jpg

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