It has been said that the soft sound of a violin, indeed, the sensibility of a violinist at work, is the thread that runs through all the melodies of Herbert Rehbein. In fact, Rehbein's contribution to the long-running and successful songwriting partnership with Bert Kaempfert is dominated by this easy-listening trademark.
Born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1922, Rehbein's first contact with music was through the strings of an inexpensive violin his parents purchased for him instead of the far more expensive piano he had hoped for. Beginning at age nine, he studied and practiced with fervor, concentrating on the violin concerti of the masters, including Brahms, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky, to mention a few. But alas, the advent of war in 1941 stepped in to bring his career in classical music to a halt. At the age of 19, he was drafted but he was lucky enough to be assigned to the Music Corps and stationed on the Mediterranean island of Crete, where he had a chance to play music with the local gypsies.
At a later stage of the conflict, he was a prisoner of war in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, for three long years. However, the authorities permitted him his violin and he continued practicing religiously. Eventually, as the war came to a close, he became a hireling rather than a prisoner, when he was named violin soloist and musical director of the Belgrade Radio Orchestra.
Rehbein remained in Yugoslavia until 1952, when his mother's illness brought him back to his native Germany. During the latter stages of his confinement in Belgrade, and later with the Belgrade Radio Orchestra, his interests had…