Henry Haftel (13th November 1911 – 28th September 1975) was a violinist and concert master of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO).He was one of the founding members of the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra later to be renamed the IPO after the state of Israel was founded in 1948.
Haftel married his violin pupil Chaya Nudel in 1943, who was a saxophonist in a band. They had two children Mira and Dalia and lived in Tel Aviv. He died in London in 1975 from a heart condition.
Haftels sister, Charlotte married a doctor Jakob Morgenstern (3rd January 1897, Huziejow – 1991, USA) on 23rd November 1930 and they had one son William. She remarried Julius Erich Klinger (21st December 1904) on 14th October 1936.
Whilst Haftel left for Palestine in 1936, his sister Charlotte emigrated to America at the same time. Their mother Laura remained in Vienna to look after her husband who had stomach cancer. After her husband’s death in 1940, she is thought to have been hidden by a non-Jewish family in Vienna until papers arrived for her to travel to America. She sailed from Lisbon to New York in 1941 to join her daughter. She achieved naturalisation to USA in 1946.
How he is remembered
- Henry died on 28th September 1975 whilst visiting London.
- Henry has a sculpture at the concert hall in Tel Aviv which he helped to build.
- Every year there is a concert celebrating him.
- His violin, an Italian Guadagnini, is now owned by the IPO & is still playe by the leader of the orchestra in his memory.
- A film was made about the founding of the Israel Philhamonic Orchestra called the Orchestra of the Exiles
- Haftel was the recipient of many honours: he was twice inscribed in the JNF Golden Book, received a gold medal from the IPO on its 30th anniversary , and was made Cavaliere of the Italian Order of Merit for his part in the cultural exchange programme with this country.
Violinist Zvi Haftel, a founding member of the IPO and its guiding spirit for many years, died suddenly in London of cerebral haemorrhage on Sunday, 28th September 1975.
He had been a pupil of Huberman, who invited him to join the orchestra at its establishment in 1936, and conductor William Steinberg appointed him to the first desk of the second violin section. It was Toscanini himself who recommended his appointment as concertmaster, a position he held until 1968.
He also often appeared with the IPO as a soloist and in chamber music especially with late cellist Daniel Hofmekler and pianist Frank Pelleg and with pianist Pnina Salzman. During 25 years he was also chairman of the IPO Musicians’ Committee and member of its Board of Directors. “Quite a unique feet” said the New York Times, “the only concert master who is at the same time the manager of the orchestra”, while Haftel himself was quoted by Time as calling himself the “shamash” of the orchestra.
His managerial achievements were largely responsible for the enlargement of the roster of IPO guest artists and he was even able to bring top artists from the USSR. He was also instrumental in the building of the Mann auditorium and the then mayor of Tel Aviv, Haim Levanon, writing to Haftel on his 50th birthday said if it were not for your efforts the Mann auditorium would never have been built.
Haftel was the recipient of many honours: he was twice inscribed in the JNF Golden Book, received a gold medal from the IPO on its 30th anniversary , and was made Cavaliere of the Italian Order of Merit for his part in the cultural exchange programme with this country.
Haftel himself considered as his most important contribution his effort to making the IPO one of the world's best orchestras by enlarging its membership with the finest young talents available here and abroad, and the establishment of a public company to hold its assets for the future benefit of the IPO.
The two aims for which he strove are - quality and permanence. The quality of his contribution to the IPO may indeed be deemed permanent and his memory will linger on in the hearts of his family and of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
Zvi Haftel mentioned by Zubin Metha
David Radzynski playing on Henry Haftel’s violin which was an Italian Guadagnini