The Kennedy Center

Arthur Rubinstein


Arthur Rubinstein
(pianist; born January 28, 1887 Lodz, Poland; died December 20, 1982) Arthur Rubinstein made his first United States tour in 1906 when he was only 19 years old. He became one of the world's foremost concert artists.

Rubinstein was born in an Lodz, Poland, on January 28, 1887. He made his first public performance at the age of seven. Four years later, the child prodigy was sent to Berlin to be presented to the great violinist, Joseph Joachim. Impressed with the boy's amazing talent, Joachim offered to assume responsibility for Rubinstein's cultural and musical education. At the age of thirteen, Rubinstein debuted formally in Berlin with the Berlin Philharmonic at a concert featuring the Mozart A major and Saint-Saens G minor concertos. In 1906, he made his American debut, performing with the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. His success here initiated a tour of the United States that included over 40 concerts.

Upon leaving America, Rubinstein limited the number of concerts he played. He decided to devote himself to study, travel, and, in his words, "hurdling the greatest obstacle in the path of a prodigy, that of shedding my immaturity."

In 1910, he started performing again, extensively in Europe. Rubinstein played Moscow and St. Petersburg under the baton of Serge Koussevitzky. He made his first visit to Spain in 1916. Although he was scheduled for four recitals, he gave 120, becoming the adopted son of all Spanish-speaking countries and one of the foremost interpreters of Spanish music. His success continued as he played his way through South America.

The Germans entered Paris in 1940, forcing Rubinstein and his family to move to the United States, and in 1946, he became an American citizen. The following year, he returned to Europe to play for the first time since 1939, and was awarded one of the greatest tributes ever given to an artist. His return to Poland in 1958, after a 20-year absence, brought tears to the eyes of a Warsaw audience, and initiated the second unanimous ovation in Polish history (the first was for Paderewski).

In May of 1964, Rubinstein attended the dedication of the Arthur Rubinstein Chair of Music at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The professorship was endowed with the earnings from Rubinstein's solo recitals in Israel, for which he had refused payment. Again, in 1974, Israel honored him by establishing a competition in his name: the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition.

Rubinstein continued to perform until 1976, when partial blindness forced him to retire. He gave his final performance at Wigmore Hall in London, in May of that year. He died at his home in Geneva on December 20, 1982, at the age of 95.
Image for Arthur Rubenstein