Conversation with Arthur Rubinstein — Bonus: Rubinstein plays Chopin

Omnibus – With the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra

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Arthur Rubinstein — Pianist

Bernard Levin — Interviewer

Israel Philharmonic

Zubin Mehta — Conductor

Program notes

An exceptional program dedicated to Arthur Rubinstein, the great 20th century pianist who was nicknamed "King Arthur". This documentary gives us a window into the genius of this beloved artist, as explored in his interview with Bernard Levin on the groundbreaking 1950s television show, Omnibus. The second part of the program features recordings of Rubinstein's 1968 performance of timeless works by Chopin in a concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

A former child prodigy who went on to lead an international career, Arthur Rubinstein is especially remembered for his interpretations of the works of Chopin. As Rubinstein explained to Bernard Levin in their 1968 interview recorded on the stage of Omnibus, "[Chopin’s] language, his musical language seems perfectly natural to me." In these rare and captivating archival images, the topics of Levin and Rubinstein's conversation range widely, with the latter reminiscing about his childhood, his relationship with music, his debuts and career as a pianist, the Romanticism of Chopin, and much more.

This program's second half features an exceptional BBC video recording from the 1968 gala concert given in honor of the 20th anniversary of the creation of the State of Israel. Then aged 81, Rubinstein delivers a brilliant performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, accompanied by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra directed by the great Zubin Mehta, and closes with Chopin's Polonaise No. 6 as an encore. There are few pianists who can play Chopin with such a natural touch, and this concert serves as testimony of that fact!

This program was created using the BBC archives (Arthur Rubinstein plays Chopin, directed by Antony Craxton at the Royal Festival Hall in London on June 9th, 1968 and Omnibus: Rubinstein speaks to Bernard Levin, by Anthony Wilkinson, December 1st, 1968).

Photo: Arthur Rubinstein in 1970 © Eva Rubinstein

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