December 21, 2007

Today in Jewish History - Tevet 12

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In 1936, the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra performed its inaugural concert, consisting of 75 Jewish musicians from major European orchestras who had made aliyah. The opening concert (of the "Palestine Orchestra," as it was then known) was conducted by the great Arturo Toscanini, who had escaped the rise of fascism in his native Italy. Said Toscanini: "I am doing this for humanity." The IPO has earned a reputation as one of the pre-eminent orchestras in the world: over the decades it has featured Isaac Stern, Leonard Bernstein, Yehuda Menuhin and Itzhak Perlman. One profound moment came in 1991 when Zubin Mehta conducted the orchestra during a Scud missile attack.