Monthly Archives: July 2021

Famous Polish Musicians in the Netherlands (NL Embassy in PL)

Bronisław Huberman with Albert Einstein in Princeton, March 1937.

In the first half of the previous century, several classical Polish musicians enjoyed fame in the Netherlands. One of them was the composer, pianist and politician Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941), Poland’s Prime Minister in 1919, whose long wild hair was so renowned that it became an inspiration for Dutch jokes. Another was the violinist Bronisław Huberman (1882-1947), who gave multiple concerts in the Netherlands. Huberman was a child prodigy, and first played for a Dutch audience in his early teens. Later, in 1905, a Dutch newspaper described a concert he gave in Amsterdam as follows: “When he performed here some ten years ago as a boy of twelve years old, he amazed everyone with his violin play, and today he has returned to us as an artist, in whom a prematurely ripe nature has harmoniously developed in a rarely perfect manner. His violin play combines all the elements of an artist of the highest rank. What is particularly admirable in the case of Huberman, is that his phenomenal technique is ennobled by a passion for beauty, which wells up from the depths of his heart.” With his Palestine Symphony Orchestra, founded in Tel Aviv in 1936, he helped save up to a thousand Jewish musicians and their families from the Holocaust. Another famous Polish musician of Jewish heritage who on several occasions performed in the Netherlands was the pianist Artur Rubinstein (1887-1982).

*I originally wrote this post for the social media outlets of the Dutch Embassy in Poland. This was post no. 19.

Rembrandt and Poland (NL Embassy in PL)

On June 29, the exhibition Świat Rembrandta (Rembrandt’s World) opened in the Royal Castle in Warsaw. Rembrandt has many links to Poland. To begin with, he produced numerous etchings and paintings of Poles or people in supposedly Polish guises. There is much debate about several of these works, however. Much has been written, for instance, about his so-called Polish Rider from 1655, which shows a horseman in what many scholars have defined as a Polish costume. The rider has been identified variously as a specific Polish nobleman, a generic Cossack, a personification of a Christian knight, a champion of religious freedom, or a literary character. Another of Rembrandt’s paintings is commonly entitled A Polish Nobleman. This portrait, dated 1637, might depict the Polish diplomat Andrzej Rey, but he has also been described as a Russian boyar. Apart from these examples, Rembrandt’s oeuvre also includes drawings and etchings of people who appear to be wearing Polish dress.

Furthermore, Rembrandt’s brother in law was Jan Makowski (or Joannes Maccovius), professor of theology at the University of Franeker. Makowski’s portrait is part of the exhibition in Warsaw.

*I originally wrote this post for the social media outlets of the Dutch Embassy in Poland. This was post no. 18.