New Documentary on How Europe’s Top Violinist Saved Hundreds From Hitler

A new documentary, “Orchestra of Exiles,” traces the real-life tale of Polish-born violinist Bronislaw Huberman (1882-1947), who saved hundreds from the Holocaust while assembling what later became the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The Times of Israel has the details:

Opening Friday in New York and November 2 in LA, the documentary follows Huberman from his years as a child prodigy to the premiere of the Palestine Symphony just before World War II. Deeply influenced by the brutality and radicalism of World War I, Huberman built a career as Europe’s top violinist, a performer favored by royal houses but keenly attuned to anti-Semitism and the gathering storm of fascism.

As the documentary recounts, Huberman’s labor of love was beset by crises from the get-go, ranging from the 1936 Arab riots against Jews in Palestine to securing permission for musicians to leave Europe. Although the Germans had yet to occupy any of Europe in 1936, Nazi racial laws imitated across the continent had already banned Jews from cultural professions….

For Huberman, the mission to create a Jewish orchestra of “exiles” was in part about the physical rescue of 70 Jewish musicians and more than 900 of their family members; however, the constantly imperiled project also held powerful symbolic meaning for Huberman, a humanist virtuoso committed to taking a stand against the Nazis.

Aronson’s documentary revisits a number of key moments in the symphony’s early years, including Ben-Gurion’s initial opposition and later change of heart; its tours of Egypt and Allied base camps during World War II; and members’ performance of Israel’s national anthem after the declaration of statehood.

You can read the rest (including an interview with director-producer Josh Aronson) at the Times‘ website.