Menu JTA Search

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Gives Gala Concert on 25th Anniversary

A brilliant performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony–with the choral portions sung in English instead of the standard German–last night marked the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Jubilee concert was held under the auspices and in the presence of President Izhak Ben-Zvi. Cabinet Ministers, the entire diplomatic corps and many guests from the United States and Britain attended the concert. Mayor Mordechai Namir of Tel Aviv greeted the orchestra on behalf of the municipality and Education Minister Abba Eban brought the greetings of the government and the nation.

In the years since the orchestra was founded by the late Bronislaw Huberman, it has become one of Israel’s best ambassadors in tours to all parts of the world. The Tel Aviv Municipality announced that the square facing the Mann Auditorium, the home of the orchestra, will be named Orchestra Square.

The performance of the Ninth Symphony was preceded by some confusion as to the language to be used in the choral portions of the last movement. The orchestra’s public board asked guest conductor Josef Krips, musical director of the Buffalo Symphony, not to perform in the original German of Schiller’s “Ode to Joy,” which is incorporated in the final movement. The board cited the mood of Israelis created by the lengthy trial of Gestapo Colonel Adolf Eichmann for brutalities and murders of European Jewry.

The board recommended Hebrew, to which the guest conductor consented. However, the Viennese soprano, Wilma Lipp, canceled her appearance as guest soloist because of that decision. It was then decided to perform the choral portion in English when it was found too difficult to find soloists who could sing in Hebrew. American and British singers were signed and gave a beautiful performance, according to the critics. The orchestra and the soloists received a standing ovation and ear-shattering applause at the close of the concert.

The concert marked the 25th anniversary of the first performance of the orchestra–assembled from refugee musicians from all parts of the world–when the late Arturo Toscanini raised his baton and the melodies of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony opened a new era of classical music in Jewish Palestine.

NEXT STORY