I was going to return to blogging with a post on rolled meat — and, don’t worry, I’ll get to that — but then Manfred Wolf, whose moving memoir I excerpted here, sent me a link to a wonderful film called the Return of the Violin. Directed by Haim Hecht, it’s a documentary that tells the story of a 1731 Stradivarius that was once owned by Bronisław Huberman, the founder of the Israeli Philharmonic, and that ended up in the hands of American virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell (pictured next to this post’s title).
I’ll admit that I don’t know as much as I’d like about classical music, and that I had never heard of Huberman, who was world famous at one point. When he was 9 years old, he performed the violin concerto of Johannes Brahms in the presence of the composer, who was dubious about child prodigies, and moved him to tears. But this is also a story about a small town in Poland called Częstochowa, where Huberman was born, a town that could have been Tarnow, my family’s place of origin. It’s about great cruelty that occurred there, but also about great heroism against the Nazis. And about transcendence.
Warning: I clicked on Return of the Violin and started watching it and couldn’t stop, though it’s an hour and 5 minutes long; it’s sad in spots, but also very uplifting. It is on the site of the film’s Israeli producer, Roy Mandel, so you’ll see only Hebrew, but don’t worry. The film is in English, Polish, and Hebrew with English subtitles.