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Toscanini to Lead Palestine Symphony Orchestra

February 27, 1936
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The story of how Arturo Toscanini, noted conductor, agreed to conduct the opening concert next Oct. 24 of the Palestine Symphony Orchestra although he dropped most of his other committments was told to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today by Bronislaw Huberman, founder of the orchestra and noted violinist.

He said he visited Mr. Toscanini, a close personal friend, seeking aid for the orchestra. He broached the idea to Mr. Toscanini of conducting a monster benefit concert in New York to finance the Palestine concerts.

Then, hesitantly, he mentioned an idea that had been luring back in his mind, that, perhaps — and he knew Mr. Toscanini was cancelling many engagements — perhaps he might come to Palestine to conduct the opening concert.

The famous maestro responded with enthusiasm. He would be glad to go to Palestine — even weeks before the concerts and see the country. He would like to conduct several concerts. Perhaps he would even take the orchestra on a tour to Egypt.

And this despite the fact Mr. Toscanini will not return to the New York Philharmonic Symphony Society next season and has cancelled all other engagements for the year except three, one of them being the Salzburg Festival.

Mr. Huberman had stated in the invitation that acceptance “would constitute a historical landmark both in the struggle against Nazism and in the upbuilding of Palestine.”

The conductor’s acceptance climaxed a record of friendship to the Jews which had been marked by his refusal to conduct at the Bayreuth Festival in 1933 and his signature to a cable to Chancellor Hitler protesting persecution in Germany.

The Palestine orchestra will give sixty concerts in eight months, repeating each one at popular prices and giving twenty additional concerts for agricultural colonists. The National Broadcast Co. will broadcast the opening concert.

The orchestra will be composed principally of outstanding German musicians denied the right to work in their own country. It numbers among its personnel many former first chair members of the foremost German symphony orchestras. Its conductors for the initial season will include Issay Dobrowen formerly of the San Francisco Symphony, Hans W. Steinberg, formerly director of the Frankfort Opera, and Michael Taube.

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