ISRAEL AT 70

Celebrations from Tel Aviv to New York mark the anniversary of national independence.

 

The ceremony in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on Friday, May 14, 1948, had been organized with such secrecy that the invited guests had learned of the location only ten minutes before it began. Inside were the 13 Ministers of the Government, the rest of the national administration, and the musicians who before long would serve as the new nation’s most visible cultural ambassadors.

The Palestine Symphony Orchestra, which would soon be renamed the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, was already 12 years old when the state of Israel declared its independence. David Ben-Gurion read the proclamation that, according to the following morning’s The New York Times, “was to transform most of those present from persons without a country to proud nationals.”

As Ben-Gurion finished his proclamation, those assembled joined the orchestra in a stirring rendition of ‘Hatvikah’ (The Hope) that culminated the ceremony. Outside the white, two-story building the large crowd that had quickly gathered sang along in jubilation.

 

TO MARK THE ANNIVERSARY

This year across Israel and in cities in Europe and North America, the 70th Anniversary of Israel’s independence will be marked by celebration and solemnity. For the IPO and its supporters around the world, it is also an occasion for renewed pride in a group whose history is so intertwined with that of its nation.

On April 15, on New York City’s Upper West Side, the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra will participate in a celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. Synagogues, schools, and Jewish organizations are sponsoring events throughout the Upper West Side celebrating the rich and complex culture, history, and people of Israel. More information.

 

A HISTORIC BOND

As Josh Aronson and Denise George write in Orchestra of Exiles, the 2016 book based on Aronson’s earlier film documentary, when the orchestra played ‘Hatikvah’ that day, for the first time as Israel’s national anthem, the orchestra still included “44 of the founding musicians” who had been recruited by Bronislaw Huberman in 1936.

“Ben-Gurion changed the orchestra’s name to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra,” write Aronson and George. “The IPO, often referred to as ‘Israel’s most treasured cultural possession,’ served as the new country’s foremost cultural ambassador, carrying the joy of music and the message of peace around the world, bringing much pride to Jewish people everywhere.”

Two weeks later, American conductor Izler Solomon of the Columbus Symphony picked up the Palestine Symphony Orchestra baton for a series of Tel Aviv concerts in which music lovers, as the New York Times reported, “ignored the possibility of air attack last night and went out into a sweltering blackout to attend a concert of the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra.”

Before long, the Museum on Rothschild Blvd. would become Independence Hall, and the musicians who gave that landmark performance of “The Hope” would become the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and a source of goodwill and respect around the world.