LAKESIDE — The remaining Jews who survived the Holocaust may have gone with their lives, but they were changed forever. The loss, degradation and fear they endured at the hands of the Nazis changed the course of their lives and the inclination of their hearts.
Yet some, like Lakeside’s Max Rabinovitsj, weren’t destroyed by the darkness. Like a flower seed buried in the ground, Rabinovitsj carried this season of horrible darkness and then blossomed in its wake. He learned to play the violin in his youth while in hiding during the German occupation of Belgium, and since then he has touched countless lives with his beautiful music.
On September 22, Rabinovitsj will perform as part of “Trio da Vinci – Piano, Cello, Violin” at Firelands Presbyterian Church. The concert will kick off this year’s Musical Arts Series in Port Clinton. The performance will also feature Paul York on cello and Michael Chertock on piano.
Rabinovitsj was only 6 years old when Germany entered Belgium in 1940. His father was captured by the Nazis and, in an effort to protect her son, Rabinovitsj’s mother sent him to live in a convent. He was moved from hiding to hiding to avoid discovery, and two years later, when he was 8 and still in hiding, he met a young Jewish violinist who taught him how to play. Classes ended when his teacher was captured and presumably killed.
“He was kidnapped by the Nazis, but I found a way to keep playing,” Rabinovitsj said.
After the war, when Rabinovitsj was 13, he was accepted into the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. It was an incredible honor, as the reserve normally only accepted college-aged students.
“Everything was easy. I could walk the streets and I didn’t have to worry about being killed,” he said.
Rabinovitsj’s childhood education was impeded by the war, and now he finds himself on a reservation with no opportunities for primary education. But Elisabeth of Bavaria, Queen of Belgium, ensured him a good education.
“They took good care of me and the queen took good care of me,” Rabinovitsj said. “Queen Elisabeth allowed me to study at the royal palace. I was educated in mathematics and Greek. I had an excellent education in just four years there.
As a young adult, Rabinovitsj studied at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, then was concertmaster of the Ottawa Philharmonic Orchestra in Ontario, the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra, the Orchester symphonique de Saint- Louis and the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Portugal. He was also associate conductor of the Orchester de Nice in France and founded the Saint-Louis String Quartet.
While thousands of people have been moved by his music in venues around the world, Rabinovitsj believes his biggest impact has been in the classroom. He has taught “hundreds and hundreds” of students at universities inside and outside the United States.
“Of all the things I’ve done, teaching is the most important. You touch a lot of lives,” he said. “I received an email yesterday from a kid I taught 40 years ago. He said, ‘Today is the anniversary of my first lesson with you.’
That day, the man told Rabinovitsj, changed the course of his whole life, just as the day Rabinovitsj went into hiding changed the course of his whole life. It was there, in the dark, that he learned to play the violin.
“Would I play if I had a typical childhood? I have no idea,” he said. “No one in my family played. If I hadn’t been hiding with a violinist, I probably would never have played the violin. was good at music, but I wouldn’t have known.
Out of trauma came beauty, a beauty that can be experienced for a brief afternoon when Trio da Vinci performs at Firelands Presbyterian Church at 3:30 p.m. on September 22. For more information on purchasing tickets and upcoming concerts, visit musicalartsportclinton.com.
Contact correspondent Sheri Trusty at firstname.lastname@example.org.