Arthur Rubinstein was one of the greatest pianists of all time, and an unparalleled performer of Chopin’s works. His brilliant musical career continued for eight decades from his first concert in 1894, when he performed works by Mozart, Schubert and Mendelssohn in his hometown of Łódź at the age of seven, until his last concert in London in 1976.
He was born in 1887 in the family of a Jewish entrepreneur Izaak Rubinstein. Throughout his life, he strongly emphasised both his ties with Poland, Polish patriotism, as well as pride of his Jewish heritage, and ties to Israel. He lost almost the entire family in the Holocaust.
During World War I, he stayed and worked in Great Britain, while during World War II he lived and performed in the United States – in Brentwood, California. In 1946, he was naturalised as an American citizen. With his countless concert tours, he traveled from Berlin (until 1914) through Moscow, London, New York, as well as Spain and South America – and was always received with ovation. He was famous for his extraordinary musical memory, he could remember entire symphonies and then play them back during concerts. He was a friend of the famous Polish composer Karol Szymanowski, with whom he toured the USA.
“Love life and life will love you back. Love people and they will love you back
In 1969, a documentary was made about him: L’Amour de la vie – Artur Rubinstein, which was warmly received by critics and viewers and received the Academy Award for the best documentary film. On the other hand, Rubinstein’s Autobiography: My Young Years (published in 1973) and My Many Years (1980) surprised critics, friends and readers with its non-musical, real-life perspective.
He was honored with many decorations around the world, including the Polish Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the USA. Since 1974, the Arthur Rubinstein International Master Piano Competition has been hosted in Tel Aviv. The pianist also received an honorary doctorate from the Fryderyk Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw.
Arthur Rubinstein died in Geneva in 1982. His ashes were laid to rest in Israel, near Jerusalem.