Artur Rubinstein

Polska / łódzkie / Łódź


Szymon Pawlak /

Artur Rubinstein

Artur Rubinstein was born in Łódź in 1887 into a Jewish family. His father, Izaak Rubinstein, was a weaver of fine cloth and his mother, Felicja (née Heyman), was a housewife. The Rubinsteins lived at 78 Piotrkowska Street. Little Artur was given his first piano lessons by Adolf Prechner. He gave his first public concert at the age of 7, when he performed pieces by Mozart, Schubert and Mendelssohn. He was sent to Warsaw by his parents where he took music lesson with Aleksander Różycki. In 1897, he enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music in Berlin, where he studied under Henryk Barth, Max Bruch and Robert Kahan. Soon after, he became the protégé of Joseph Joachim, the Academy's director. On December 1 1900, he made his debut by performing in the Berlin Beethoven-Saal,  a performance that won him great accolade as a talented pianist. In April 1902, Rubinstein performed in Warsaw with Emil Młynarski conducting the orchestra. His mastery of the piano as well as his memory for music won him nothing but admiration. Music lovers were enchanted by his forte, his mode of expression as well as the richness of the sounds. In 1903 Rubsinstein was invited to Switzerland by Ignacy Paderewski. In 1904, however, he moved to Paris. Soon after, he toured the USA (1906), Europe and South America.

He performed in Poland on a number of occasions and toured Poland's concert halls in Łódź, Warsaw, Lwów as well as in Kraków and Zakopane. A devout exponent of both Fryderyk Chopin and Karol Szymanowski, Rubinstein is one of few Polish pianists who gained worldwide recognition. Along with Ignacy Paderewski he is one of few Polish 20th-century pianists recognized worldwide. During WWI, Artur Rubinstein gave concerts to support the Red Cross as well as Poland. During WWII, in turn, he gave a number of charity concerts to help Polish refugees. Rubsinstein stressed Poland's heroic efforts and openly urged US citizens to enter the war.

In 1932, Rubinstein married Emil Młynarski's daughter, Aniela. In 1933, in Buenos Aires (Argentina), Aniela gave birth to a baby girl, Eva Rubinstein. In 1939, the Rubinsteins left Europe and moved to the US. In 1946, Rubinstein became a naturalised US citizen. At the signing of the Declaration of the United Nations, he was deeply disappointed that there were no Polish delegates present. He gave vent to his feelings by playing the Polish national anthem, “Mazurek Dąbrowskiego”, ostentatiously, which again won him a standing ovation.

In 1960, Rubinstein was the Honorary Chairman of the Jury during the 6th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition. During the opening ceremony, he played Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor accompanied by the National Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Witold Rowicki.

In 1979 he visited Poland for the last time in his life. The Polish record company Polskie Nagrania Muza celebrated his visit by releasing an album with his performance recorded in 1960. A number of institutions have been named after Rubinstein and numerous piano competitions have been founded in honour of his achievements as a pianist. One of the most recent institutions is the Artur Rubinstein International Music Foundation in Łódź which has been organizing the Artur Rubinstein International Music Festival in Łódź (a biannual piano competition) since 2008. The Foundation seeks to honour the pianist by inviting the world's most famous artists to perform in tribute to Rubinstein.

Artur Rubinstein was awarded some of the most important medals and orders in the world, to mention but a few, the American Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Kennedy Center Honors, the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta, the Order of Merit bestowed by the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York for his contribution to Polish and American culture, Order of the British Empire and many others. Elected to the French Academy, he was awarded honorary degrees by the world’s most famous universities, including Yale University, University of California, University of Columbia as well as the University of Music in Warsaw.

Rubinstein died on December 20, 1982 in Geneva, Switzerland, aged 95.