Uri Toeplitz










                              audio/video dokumentaton (in German)

Flautist Uri Toeplitz was taught in the early 1920s in Bonn by one of the first school music educators trained under the Kestenberg Reform. The changeover from old-school singing classes to the reformed programme of music instruction was truly a stroke of luck for Toeplitz. His musical talent was not lost, as happened to so many who were classified as "unmusical" because they - like Toeplitz - did not have a voice suited for singing. On the contrary: his musicality was discovered and fostered.

Toeplitz was so impressed by his music teacher Wilhelm Haas that he decided to train to be a school music teacher in Cologne, just like Haas. Although Toeplitz passed the entrance exam with flying colours, he was not permitted to enrol. Disappointed, he wrote a letter to Kestenberg in which he asked for support. Even in 1932, shortly before the National Socialists came to power, Kestenberg's influence was still formidable enough to see to it that Toeplitz was allowed to study. By 1934, Toeplitz was the last Jewish student in his school music programme.

In 1936, Toeplitz was appointed flautist in the Palestine Orchestra and immigrated to Tel Aviv. Soon after, he was voted onto the orchestra board. Two years later, in 1938, Kestenberg was appointed General Manager and Artistic Director of the orchestra and also immigrated to Tel Aviv.

As a member of the orchestra board, Toeplitz was in regular contact with Kestenberg from then on. When the audience numbers dwindled and subsidies from abroad were not forthcoming, Kestenberg was blamed. Soon there were difficulties with mutinous orchestra members who could not live on their meagre student salaries. Toeplitz recalled this difficult time for Kestenberg, which ended in 1945 with Kestenberg's voluntary resignation, with regret.

Uri Töplitz, Und Worte reichen nicht. Von der Mathematik in Deutschland zur Musik in Israel. Eine jüdische Familiengeschichte 1812-1998, ed. Erhard Roy Wiehn. Konstanz:Hartung-Gorre Verlag.1999. [And Words Do Not Suffice. From Mathematics in Germany to Music in Israel. A Jewish Family History 1812-1998]

Töplitz, The History of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Researched and Remembered by Uri Töplitz, Tel Aviv 1992 (Hebrew)

Barbara von der Lühe, die Emigration deutschsprachiger Musikschaffender in das britische Mandatsgebiet Palästina. Frankfurt a.M., Berlin u.a. 1999. [The Emigration of German-Speaking Musicians to the British Mandate for Palestine]

1913  Born in Göttingen, son of the well-known mathematician Otto Toeplitz. Spends the major part of his childhood in Kiel, where his father teaches at the university. Begins to take flute lessons from the first flautist of the Kiel Orchestra in 1925.
1928 The family moves to Bonn, where Toeplitz is taught music in school by one of the first teachers trained under the Kestenberg Reform, Wilhelm Haas. In place of his flute lessons, Toeplitz now prepares for further study in the field of school music under Haas.
1931  After graduating in Bonn, Toeplitz takes up the study of mathematics and musicology in Berlin. He enthusiastically attends the city's Kroll Opera.  
1932  Takes entrance exam and commences study of school music in Cologne. At the same time, begins study of mathematics in Bonn.  
1933  The university in Bonn and the Cologne music academy are "aryanized". Toeplitz is deprived of his university place in mathematics. His school music study is interrupted; however, he is able to continue "by special arrangement". Toeplitz joins "Hechaluz", by then the largest Zionist organization of Jewish youth, that same year. 
1934  Along with studying school music, Toeplitz continues to take flute lessons with private teachers. In preparation for his immigration to Palastine he focuses more and more on his instrument and becomes the first flautist in the orchestra of the Jüdisches Kulturbund [Jewish Cultural Federation] Rhein-Main in Frankfurt.
1935  Abandons study of school music. 
1936  Toeplitz is offered a post in the Palestine Orchestra and receives the immigration certificate that allows him to move to Palestine. For more than 30 years, he will be a member of the orchestra, which after 1948 is called the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO). For most of this period, Toeplitz is a member of the orchestra board and participates in the programming. 
1970  Due to differences with the chief conductor of the IPO, Zubin Mehta, Toeplitz accepts early retirement. He takes up the study of musicology in Tel Aviv, writes his Master's thesis on the influence of Bruckner on Mahler's symphonies, and earns his doctorate under Eric Werner with a dissertation on "Woodwinds in the Music of Mozart". He is one of the founders of Jeunesse Musicale Israel (JM Israel) and from 1972 to 1974 assumes management of the JM World Orchestra.  
1992  Publication in Hebrew of his History of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. As a soloist and chamber musician, he performs in the premieres of many works by Israeli composers.
2007 Toeplitz dies at the age of 94.