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[Page 257]

Portraits

 

[Page 264]

The Musical Child Prodigies

The Brothers Sigmund (1900-1952)
and Emanuel Feuermann (1902-1942)

by Dr. Isaac Shchor

Translated by Gloria Berkenstat Freund

(Photo no caption – possibly Meir Feuermann)

Among my relatives, who mainly were butchers, was one named Mendl Henigsberg. Mendl Henigsberg's daughter married the musician Meir Feuermann.

Meir Feuermann was a gifted player of several musical instruments, but his two sons, Sigmund, born in Kolomea in 1900, and Emanuel, born two years later in 1902, achieved fame.

At three years old, Sigmund already was playing the violin; at four years he tried to read musical notes and at five he appeared in public as a violinist at the Kolomea Zionist Women's Union, “Rachel.”

To be able to perfect his wonder-child in music, the father moved his family to Vienna. In Vienna Sigmund studied with the music professors Roze, Feist and Shepczik and at age eight he gave his first violin concert in the Austrian capital.

In 1911, at age 11, Sigmund had colossal success with a violin concert with the London Philharmonic Society, which was under the patronage of the English king.

From London, Sigmund Feuermann's triumph over Europe and America began. He came to America

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in 1925 and had a great success there with his concerts. He also became a teacher at the New York Music Academy.

Sigmund spent five years in America. In 1930 he returned to his parents in Vienna.

However, he only benefitted from his virtuoso glory in Vienna for a few more years. The difficult pre-Nazi and then the horrible Nazi years immediately arrived. It should be understood that there could be no talk about appearing publicly as a musician under the Nazis.

One day before the deportation of the Vienna Jews, thanks to the intervention of his younger brother Emanuel, who then lived in Zurich, Sigmund and his parents crossed the Austrian-Swiss border.

Sigmund only spent four months in Switzerland and he emigrated from there to Eretz-Yisroel. And in Eretz-Yisroel it was apparent that the glory of the once famed wonder-child had been harmed considerably.

Sigmund took a position as music professor at the American University in Beirut, but the growing hatred by the Arabs forced him to return to Tel Aviv.

Sigmund Feuermann's last years in Tel Aviv were sad and then tragic. There were few concerts, few lectures, little income and little peace with his wife.

One day at the beginning of 1952 he became paralyzed; he lost his ability to speak. Sigmund died several months later.

 

2.

Emanuel (Munya), the younger brother of Sigmund, reached even more glory, but he was cut down at a younger age.

Emanuel was a cello virtuoso. He studied music with his father and with Professor Anton Walter. Emanuel gave his first public concert at the age of 11 as a soloist with the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra. Emanuel later studied with the well-known musician Julius Klengel in Leipzig.

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(Photo caption – most likely Emanuel Feuermann)

At age 16 Munya Feuermann himself was a professor at the conservatory in Cologne. And it did not take long for him to lead the cello division of the Berlin Music Academy and strengthen his name in Europe as one of the most important cello virtuosos.

In 1934 Munya Feuermann gave a series of concerts in Eretz-Yisroel and evoked great enthusiasm. Then he lived in Vienna for several years and from there he traveled around for concerts in France, England and America.

In 1938, when Hitler entered Austria, Munya Feuermann settled in America permanently. He appeared in many cities and played with many orchestras with great success. In 1941 the 39-year old cello virtuoso became the leader of the chamber music department at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. A year later Munya Feuermann became ill, went through an operation and died at the early age of 40.

 

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