Forbidden Music: Composers banned by the Third Reich

March 4, 2017 by Stevie Whitmont
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Continuing a series by Stevie Whitmont of music banned by the Nazis…this month features Marcel Tyberg.

Marcel Tyberg

Marcel Tyberg’s String Sextet (2 violins, 2 violas, cello and contrabass) was written in 1932, little more than a decade before he was exterminated in the Auschwitz death camp. It comes from his compact but rich body of late-Romantic works, which surfaced in America in the late 20th century and was first publicly performed in 2006, (Buffalo, New York). As such, Marcel Tyberg is the most recently “rediscovered” composer persecuted by the policies of the Third Reich during WWII.

What is known of Tyberg’s story is sparse: He was born in Vienna in 1893 of Polish parents who were professional musicians; he moved with his family to then-northern Italy during WWI (1916); he composed, conducted, taught and performed in the small resort town of Abbazia; and following the death of his father in 1927, lived a relatively isolated existence with his widowed Mother. Tyberg is described by family friend and author Marion Schiffler as a dreamy, childlike and strange spiritual man, who lived in indescribable poverty with no wish for publicity or publication. Tyberg was a pious Catholic with a Jewish great-great-grandfather on his Mother’s side. That his dutiful Mother reported this in the local census of 1939, sealed Tyberg’s fate at the hands of the Italian Fascists. In 1944 he was rounded up in a night raid and deported to San Sabba, then on to death in Auschwitz.

His re-emergence as a composer of note is due to his own foresight, entrusting his ouvre to another family friend, Dr. Milan Mihich. His son Dr. Enrico Milhich later transported Tyberg’s archive to the USA (1957), where he began his own eminent career in cancer research. Eventually, in the mid-1980’s, Enrico initiated efforts to publicize Tyberg’s work for performance. He was not successful until 2006, when plans for recitals and recordings were made by Buffalo Philharmonic musicians, under Director JoAnn Falletta.

The Tyberg Musical Legacy Fund administered by the Buffalo Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies has generously shared the music parts and an unpublished recording of the Tyberg String Sextet, for performance in Sydney by Woollahra Philharmonic musicians. The June 2017 Forbidden Music concerts will take place at the Sydney Jewish Museum and the Woollahra Council chambers. Here is the graceful 4th movement of Tyberg’s String Sextet:

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