Friday, March 18, 2011

Rubenstein on the German Jews and a family he knew among them

His family was the prototype of the upper-class German Jews . . . less Jewish than the Polish Jews, more patriotic than the Germans themselves. They found and took their place in the community, were highly respected for their integrity and honorability, contributing with everything in their power to the welfare of their fellow citizens. It had to take a raving-mad sadist like Hitler to destroy such an invaluable asset of the German people.

-Artur Rubenstein in My Young Years

At the age of 80, Rubenstein gave an unforgettable performance at Duke that I attended while I was a student there. It took place in what is now Cameron Indoor Stadium, just Mr. Rubenstein and his grand piano on a small stage set up on the basketball court. I remember a number of things about the performance, but the over-arching aspect about him was his power at the keyboard. I feared that the piano might finally collapse under the physical and psychic force of him. But it didn't.

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