Documentary by János Darvas (Germany 2011), with german subtitles
In 1936, the Polish violinist Bronisław Huberman founded the Palestine Orchestra. It gave its first concert on 26 December of that year in Tel Aviv, with Arturo Toscanini conducting. Following the state of Israel’s declaration of independence, the ensemble assumed the name Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and quickly achieved national, then international renown. Formative collaborations were forged with Leonard Bernstein and, especially, Zubin Mehta, principal conductor since 1968 and meanwhile also named music director for life. In János Darvas’s film, we hear from Mehta, Daniel Barenboim and Pinchas Zukerman and, most importantly, from the orchestra’s musicians themselves. The focus naturally also turns to the fate of the Jewish people in the 20th century and the history of Israel. We learn about the fateful, moving stories of émigré musicians and meet families in which successive generations of musicians have played in the orchestra. The film also reveals the orchestra’s artistic profile. Essentially European in sound, its style has been moulded by the many musicians who have emigrated from Europe and imbued it with the fruits of their training and approach to making music. Preserving these characteristics has become a great challenge. To complement the film, we are showing an excerpt from the concert given by members of the Israel and Berlin Philharmonic orchestras under Mehta on 18 April 1990 in Tel Aviv, during the Berliner Philharmoniker’s first visit to Israel with Daniel Barenboim.