First He Rescued Jews, Then He Lost His $4 Million Violin


Founder of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, rescuer of over 1,000 Jews from Nazi persecution, world-renowned virtuoso violinist. This is a guy we can get behind.

Born in Poland in 1882, Bronisław Huberman had an ear for the harrowing trends of Nazi ascension. After writing an open letter in 1933 calling upon German intellectuals to denounce Nazism, Huberman recruited Jewish musicians from across Europe to join him in Palestine.

Having received financial support from, among others, fellow violinist and science superhero Albert Einstein, Huberman founded the Palestine Symphony Orchestra in 1936 (later renamed the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra). In total, nearly 1,000 people—musicians and their families—were saved from the Holocaust due to Huberman’s love of music and desire to see his fellow Jews out of harm’s way.

And then there’s this: During a 1936 Carnegie Hall performance, Huberman’s famous 1713 Stradivarius violin was stolen from his dressing room, and remained lost for 50 years. The man who bought the pinched violin (for a mere $100), identified the previous owner to his wife on his deathbed, in 1985. The woman returned the instrument to Huberman’s insurance company, at which time it was restored, resold for a cool four million bucks, and immortalized in radio stories and documentary films.


Listen to Huberman playing Bach:

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