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Movie Review

‘Orchestra of Exiles’ squanders a rich premise

The virtuoso concert violinist Bronislaw Huberman (1882-1947) made his professional debut at 12. How virtuosic was he? In 1896, he played the Brahms Violin Concerto with a much-impressed composer in the audience. “He had the best right hand of anybody!” the violinist and violist Pinchas Zukerman declares in “Orchestra of Exiles.” Huberman’s sound, adds violinmaker Amnon Weinstein, was “very intensive, like he was going to eat the violin.”

Notable as Huberman’s playing was, he’s best remembered today for a different musical contribution. In 1936, he founded the Palestine Symphony Orchestra, the forerunner of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. “With Hitler firing the best musicians in Europe,” Huberman said, “it suddenly became clear to me that this was an extraordinary opportunity to give this wonderful audience in Palestine a first-class orchestra.”

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