Philipp Broch, 1812-1864, Notable Jewish Violinist and Composer
Digital Media Librarian at Florida International University.
Growing up in a world marked by the far-reaching anti-Semitic acts of European governments over the past millennium, I delve into the historical backdrop of Jewish emancipation. The article unfolds the known expulsions of Jews from England, Hungary, Spain, and Portugal, juxtaposed with the gradual liberation of civil rights for Jews in Bohemia. The narrative emphasizes the role of societal shifts, particularly after the Reformation and Enlightenment, in diminishing the Roman Church’s control and fostering a more inclusive atmosphere. Prague and Prossnitz emerge as centers where the impact of emancipation on classical music, notably through the success of Jewish-Moravian violinist Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst, becomes evident.
In exploring the life of Philipp Broch, a 19th-century Jewish violinist born in Brno, my journey begins with his early training in Prossnitz and Vienna. I unearth historical records, concert reviews, and personal chronicles to piece together Broch’s trajectory. The narrative unfolds his impressive skills by age fourteen and highlights his collaborations with fellow Jewish musicians like Bernhard Schreiber. Broch’s contributions to the cultural landscape of Vienna’s Conservatory and his disappearance from press records between 1829 and 1837 become integral components, leading to his reappearance and recognition in publications with international coverage of Jewish life and culture.
The results reveal Broch’s return to Moravia, his pivotal appointment as a professor of Violin in Lviv in 1839, and the subsequent stability and success that allowed him to publish musical compositions. His artistic legacy is marked by the publication of Variations, Op. 3, and Trois études, Op. 4, in 1845 and 1850, respectively. Musical tours to Chernivtsi and Brody in 1844 and 1845 underscore Broch’s growing influence in major Jewish cultural centers. The article concludes with Broch’s final position as the Orchestra Director at the Theater an der Wien in 1853, highlighting his enduring impact on the musical landscape.
As I reflect on Philipp Broch’s extraordinary life, I recognize his role in the transformative impact of societal changes on the position of Jews in classical music. Broch’s journey becomes a microcosm of the broader narrative of Jewish emancipation, breaking down barriers in the musical sphere as European societies moved away from religious and social prejudice. His story not only showcases the power of education and opportunity but also symbolizes the growing acceptance of Jews in prominent musical positions. In celebrating Philipp Broch, I acknowledge his enduring legacy that extends beyond musical compositions, leaving an indelible mark on the evolving landscape of 19th-century European classical music.