A recent orchestra concert in Tel Aviv moved audience members to tears – but not for reasons you might expect. It wasn’t so much the music or the musicians who inspired the crowd, but the violins being played. More specifically, the evening was so memorable because of the violins’ previous owners: Holocaust-era Jews.
“I have done thousands of concerts, but I have never been as emotional and trembled the way I did when I took that violin from Auschwitz in my hand,” Braunstein said backstage after the event.
The soloist along with a group of Jerusalem chamber orchestra musicians performed in Tel Aviv as part of a project that collects and restores violins from the Holocaust.
The one that Braunstein played belonged to a man forced to perform at Auschwitz concentration camp as inmates left each morning for forced labor elsewhere and returned in the evenings.
At the auditorium in Tel Aviv, some in the audience were in tears as the musicians played a Gustav Mahler composition.
The concert was part of the “Violins of Hope” project, brainstormed and birthed by 76-year-old Israeli Amnon Weinstein, a third generation luthier whose Jewish family escaped the Holocaust. He has spent the past two decades finding and lovingly restoring violins that survived the Holocaust so that “what they have to say” can be heard.