Origins of Palestine Symphony Members

The Palestine Symphony Orchestra was made up of Jewish musicians from the top ranks of orchestra and chamber music groups across Europe. Nearly 80 musicians joined, with only a few already living in Palestine. Those who moved from Europe brought their families, which meant Bronislaw Huberman’s efforts to found the orchestra under the threat of a pending Holocaust ultimately saved nearly 1,000 lives. It was not an easy decision for musicians to leave their homes and professional associations in Europe and move to Palestine, a desert land in political transition since the end of World War I. But particularly in Germany, Jewish musicians had lost positions in orchestras because of their ethnicity. As early as 1933, Hitler ordered the firing of Jewish musicians and his anti-Semitic policies increasingly became laws that stripped Jews of their civil rights.
Click map points to see names of members and orchestras they played for prior to 1936.

Not shown on map: The U.S., where two members played, and Argentina, where one member once performed. Countries of origin for 10 founding symphony members are unconfirmed.

Orchestra concert programs do not often list many details about its members. The 1936/37 season opening concert program of the Palestine Symphony Orchestra listed the musicians by instrument section, and cited the music group each member had performed with previously, nearly all in Europe, as well as their teaching distinctions. Below are the names of members as listed in that historic program.

Original Orchestra Members Listed in 1936/37 Opening Concert

Argentina
Boris Rogoff, second violins. Philharmonic Orchestra Buenos Aires

Austria
Felix Galimir, first violins. Leader of the Galimir Quartett and of the Vienna Concert-Orchestra
David Grünschlag, first violins. Vienna Concert-Orchestra
Heinrich Haftel, first violins. Vienna Concert-Orchestra
Alfred Lunger, first violins. Vienna Concert-Orchestra
Lotte Hammerschlag, violas. Leader, Vienna Concert-Orchestra
Renée Galimir, violas. Member of Galimir Quartett
Dr. Hans Levitus, clarinet. First Clarinet, National Theatre Linz
Gustav Totzler, tuba. Orchester-Verein, Vienna

Czechoslovakia
Szlomo Bor, second violin. Symphony Orchestra Prague
Oskar Heller, trombone. National Theatre Kosice

France
Schulamith Silber-Chajes, first violins. Broadcasting Orchestra Paris
Ben Ami Silber, second violins. Broadcasting Orchestra Paris
Aszer Borochow, second violins. Orchestra Cortôt Paris

Germany
Rudolf Bergmann, leader, first violins. Leader, Municipal Orchestra, Wiesbaden; New Opera, Hamburg
Basia Polischuk, first violins. Leader, Jüdische Kulturbund, Berlin
Andreas Weissgerber, first violins. Germany (immigrated to Palestine 1933).
Klecki Mnasza, second violins. Gewandthaus Leipzig
Harry Blumberg, violas. Berlin String Quartet
Jacob Bernstein, violoncelli. Leader, Philharmonic Orchestra Stockholm; Leipzig Symphony Orchestra
Ary Schuyer, violoncelli. Leader, Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra
Albert Katz, violoncelli. Leader, Leipzig Symphony Orchestra
Josef Weissgerber, violoncelli. Germany (immigrated to Palestine 1933).
Ernst Boehm, bass. Leader, Broadcasting Orchestra Cologne; Orchestra Jüdische Kulturbund, Frankfurt a. M.
Salomon Engelsman, flute. First flute, Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra
Erich Toeplitz, flute. Orchestra Jüdische Kulturbund, Frankfurt a. M.
Heinrich Zimmermann, clarinet. First Clarinet, Orchestra Jüdische Kulturbund, Frankfurt a. M.; Municipal Orchestra Wiesbaden
Horst Salomon, horn. First Horn, Orchestra Jüdische Kulturbund, Berlin
Wolf Sprecher, horn. Opera and Municipal Orchestra Saarbrücken
Mischa Rakier, trumpet. Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra; Municipal Orchestra Saarbrücken
Heinrich Schiefer, trombone. First Trombone, Orchestra Jüdische Kulturbund, Berlin
Kurt Sommerfeld, timpani. Berlin Kulturbund Orchestra

Georgia
Mordechai Pinski, bass. Professor at the Conservatory of Music in Tiflis (Tblisi, Georgia, today, in 1936, part of Russia).

Hungary
Lorand Fényves, first violins. Second Leader, Budapest Concert-Orchestra and Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra
Alice Fényves, violas. Budapest Municipal Orchestra
Dr. Laszlo Vincze, violoncelli. Leader, Budapest Concert-Orchestra
Tibor Silk, horn. First Horn, Budapest Concert-Orchestra

Italy
Adolfo Farnesi, bass. Leader, Broadcasting Orchestra Rome
Hans Sachs, trumpet. First Trumpet, Orchestra Municipale San Remo

Latvia
Israel Segall, timpani. Symphony Orchestra and Opera, Riga

Netherlands
Salomon van den Berg, oboe. “Residenz-Orchestra” The Hague.
Louis Staal, clarinet. First Clarinet, Haag’sche Symphony Orchestra
Josef Samson de Groen, bassoon. First Bassoon, Philharmonic Orchestra Groningen

Poland
Mieczyslaw Fliederbaum, first violins. Leader, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Jacob Surowicz, second violins. Leader, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Moszek Lewak, second violins. Leader, Philharmonic Lodz
Mosze Sztyglic, second violins. Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Alfred Ginzbarg, second violins. Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Liftman Boruch, second violins. Opera Warsaw
Pelssach Ginzbarg, violas. Leader, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Bloeslaw Ginbarg, violoncelli. Leader, Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Abraham Wenger, bass. Leader, Philharmonic Orchestra Lodz
Leon Szulc, bassoon. First Bassoon, Vienna State Opera; Professor of the Warsaw Conservatory
Bronislaw Szulc, horn. Frist Horn, Warsaw Opera; Professor of the Warsaw Conservatory; Conductor of the Scottish Orchestra in Glasgow and the Lodz Philharmonic Orchestra
Zwi Feldmann, trumpet. Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra
Michal Podemski, trombone. First Trombone, Philharmonic Orchestra Lodz
Bronzislaw Ginzbarg, timpani. Broadcasting Orchestra Warsaw

Russia
Seew Mirkin, bass. Leader, Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra (today’s St. Petersburg)

Switzerland
Dea Gombrich, first violins. Adolf Busch Chamber-Orchestra

Croatia
Jaroslaw Front, violas. Leader, Philharmonic Orchestra and Opera, Zagreb. (Yugoslavia in 1936)

Ukraine
Marek Rak, first violin. Leader, Lemberg Philharmonic Orchestra and Opera (Lemberg is now Lviv in Ukraine)

United States
Jacob Shumer, flute. First flute, Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Josef Marx, oboe. First oboe, Symphony Orchestra Dayton, Ohio; Broadcasting Station Cincinnati, Ohio

No associations given in program

Joseph Bernstein, first violins
Raja Berson, second violins
Selmar Chasin, second violins
Dora Loeb, violas
Chaim Bor, violas
Adolfo Odnoposoff, violoncelli
Chaim Bodenstajn, violoncelli




  • Boaz Anin

    There’s a typo here – the name of the 2nd violinist from Poland should be Jacob Surowicz.

    • Christina Knight

      Thank you! Mr. Surowicz’s name is now corrected.

    • Chris Knight

      Thank you! Mr. Surowicz’s name is now corrected.

  • Philip A. Maxwell

    The film omits to mention that the manager of the orchestra from the end of 1938 until 1945 was Leo Kestenberg. He was the most powerful arts administrator in Germany during the Weimar Republic. I am publishing a collection of Kestenberg’s correspondence with Richard Wagner’s grandson, Franz W. Beidler, 1933-1956. There is quite a bit of information in the lettes about Kestenberg and Huberman and how Kestenberg became manager of the orchestra.

    http://www.beidler-kestenberg.com

    The book will be published on Amazaon and elsewhere. Check the website during the next week or so for further info and my email address if you want more information.

  • Klaus Totzler

    my father, Gustav Totzler, was in the orchestra playing the tuba. Littel is known about him. I´d appreciate any information about his youth, would love to hear stories from the past. sincerely Klaus