In this episode, I talk to Rebecca Jackson and her father Dr John Jackson, authors of Arben: David Arben’s Life of Miracles and Successes. They discuss Warsaw-born Mr. Arben’s astonishing story of his survival from concentration camps during the Holocaust, his brushes with death, and subsequent achievements as a classical violinist.
His story is astonishing, from surviving a Nazi massacre to world acclamation for his work. We discuss how music helped Mr. Arben to carry on — and thrive— after surviving a number of close calls with death and coming face-to-face with the horror of a World War II Nazi concentration camp. The story of the Nazi guard and the camp orchestra is not to be missed.
What gave him the strength to survive? Dr. Jackson tells of the advice Mr. Arben received from his parents: 1) You’re a virtuoso and 2) don’t let anyone disrespect you. He never bowed or was submissive and this incredible courage and resilience was something that came directly from his parents. Others, including Dr. and Rebecca Jackson, were inspired by this strength of character.
Mr. Arben’s showed his strong will from an early age. Dr. Jackson tells the delightful and illuminating story of a young Arben dismissing his parents’ concerns about him taking up the violin as a career by going on a hunger strike to get music lessons.
After the war, he was classed as a displaced person and it was his determination to get to the U.S and play violin that, again, saved him. Eventually arriving on a converted troopship in Boston harbor in 1949, it was only a matter of weeks before he was able to secure a letter of recommendation from the acclaimed conductor Leonard Bernstein, which helped begin his musical career.
But how has Mr. Arben influenced Rebecca and Dr. Jackson? Rebecca shares a story of when he questioned her passion when she played. She vehemently denied this to Mr. Arben. Was he upset? No, it was this passion that he wanted to see come out of her. As her teacher, he saw her as a “connector of people.”
As we learn, he has strong views about what makes a great artist: “a combination of intellect and heart,” according to Dr. Jackson. A man of honour, Mr. Arben always kept his word and expected others to do the same. A man who lived in the “now,” he believed in using the gifts Nature had bestowed on him.
- Learn more about David Arben: https://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/arts/David-Arben-dies—a-violinist-who-found-poetry-.html
- Read: Arben: David Arben’s Life of Miracles and Successes
- Read: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
- Music in May: http://musicinmay.org/