Marcel Tyberg (1893-1944) was an Austrian conductor, pianist, and teacher but is most prominently remembered as a composer. His compositional works include piano sonatas, liturgical music, string ensemble works, lieder (with settings of German and English poets), dance music (under the pseudonym Til Bergmar) as well as 3 symphonies ‘on the scale of Mahler.’ Tyberg’s music has only recently re-emerged although his life echoes that of countless composers and musicians targeted by the Nazi regime in 1930s and 1940s Europe.

Marcel Tyberg (Jr) was born in Vienna, Austria on 27 January 1893 to Polish parents: Marcel (l) Tyberg Sr., a prominent violinist, and Wanda Paltinger Tybergova, an accomplished pianist and colleague of Arthur Schnabel at the Leschetisky school.   Marcel’s musical education and training was administered by his parents and, based on review of his compositions, was supplemented with formal training in counterpoint, orchestration and harmony, likely through private tutelage.

Marcel (l) Sr.’s music career took the family from Vienna to Italy’s Adriatic seaside resort town of Abbazia (now Opatija in modern day Croatia).  Abbazia was a popular resort area among 19th Century European royalty including the Habsburgs. Marcel Sr. & Jr. both found work as semi-regular soloists with the Abbazia Symphony Orchestra. It was also in Abbazia where Tyberg  wrote all his works during the following 23 years. Although the majority of early works do not contain exact dates, his compositions are believed to have started in 1920 with the completion of his first piano sonata followed by several lieder collections and, more notably, his 2nd Symphony which was premiered by the Czech Philharmonic in the early 1930s under the baton of friend Rafael Kubelík.  In 1927, the same year Tyberg would begin work on his 2nd Symphony, Marcel Sr. died. After the death of Tyberg Sr., the family decided to remained in Abbazia and Tyberg Jr. eked out a meagre existence offering music lessons and performing sporadically with the Gorizia Symphony Orchestra. 

The fall of Mussolini’s first Fascist regime in 1943 led Germany to take control of the state and held territories. Once stabilized, the Nazi regime installed Mussolini as head of the newly formed Fascist state- the Italian Social Republic.  In September of the same year, Germany moved troops into the Istrian Peninsula region where Abbazia is located. The Nazi occupation also established further discriminatory anti-Semitic statutes in controlled territories.  Later that same year, Tyberg completed his 3rd Symphony in D Minor. This would be his final composition. As law decreed, Marcel’s mother registered genealogical information with the government stating her great grandfather was Jewish, thus making Marcel 1/16th Jewish. She died soon after of natural causes.

Stricken with grief and with an air of foreboding which conjures images of Schubert’s first playing of Wintereisse,  Marcel Tyberg gave a final concert of his works, surrounded by his close friends. Tyberg’s final weeks echo that of many other artists and musicians who were unable to emigrate from Nazi controlled territories. Similar to the Czech composer Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944), Marcel Tyberg recognised his likely deportation and demise and entrusted his catalogue of works to a close friend, Milo Mihich. In the following months, Tyberg was arrested in a night raid and sent via cattle car from Abbazia to the camps of San Sabba and subsequently Auschwitz, where it is believed he died on the 31 December, 1944.

The works entrusted to Dr. Milo Mihich were among the possessions he took with him as his family fled from Fiume to Milan. Upon Dr. Mihich’s death in 1948, his son and former pupil of Tyberg-Enrico, took on responsibility for the catalogue.  The works would eventually travel again, this time to Buffalo, New York where they would lie for several decades until re-emerging onto the world’s stage. Through the efforts of the Mihich family and the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestra Joan Falletta, several recordings have been made including Tyberg’s Symphony No.2 in F Minor, Piano Sonata No.2(also in F Minor) , Symphony No.3 in D Minor, and Piano Trio in F Major.  Two other works, including Tyberg’s Mass No.1 in G Major and Mass No.2 in F Major (both for mixed chorus and organ) have also been recorded by the South Dakota Chorale under direction of Brian Schmidt. The latter album received a 2017 Gramophone Music Award nomination for Best Choral Performance. 

Disseminating these works after nearly 70 years is by no means a small task but significant headway has been made through these efforts and has led to the formation of the Tyberg Musical Legacy Fund. This organisation has been established to introduce Tyberg’s music with a wider audience. The fund efforts have produced several concerts including a 2006 recital of selected lieder, performances of Tyberg’s first and second piano sonatas by Russian pianist Katya Grineva, and performances of his Trio for piano, violin and cello (1936) and Sextet for two violins, two violas, cello and double bass (1932).

Ryan Hugh Ross

Sources

Redler, Zachary. "Marcel Tyberg". The OREL Foundation. http://orelfoundation.org/composers/article/marcel_tyberg. Accessed 20 November 2018.

Opatija (Abazzia) entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opatija

Yadzinski, Edward (2010). Notes from Naxos CD -8.572236. Naxos Records. Retrieved 19th November, 2018.

Giordano, Alberto; Holian, Anna. “The Holocaust in Italy”. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website. https://www.ushmm.org/learn/mapping-initiatives/geographies-of-the-holocaust/the-holocaust-in-italy. Accessed 3rd December, 2018.

Cappell, Richard. “Schubert’s Songs.” Published by Ernest Benn. Great Britain. 1928.

Viktor Ullmann article: http://holocaustmusic.ort.org/places/theresienstadt/ullmann-viktor/ Accessed 18th November, 2018.

Trotter, Herman; Schiffler, Marion (7 October 2006). "Marcel Tyberg: A Forgotten Victim of the Nazis Re-emerges". ICSM Online Journal. International Centre for Suppressed Music, SOAS, University of London. http://www.suppressedmusic.org.uk/newsletter/articles/010.html Accessed 19th November,  2018.

Naxos Records catalogue entry for Marcel Tyberg’s 2nd Symphony album recorded by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra .https://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.572822. Accessed 19th November, 2018

Naxos Records catalogue entry for Marcel Tyberg’s 3nd Symphony recorded by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. https://www.naxos.com/catalogue/item.asp?item_code=8.572236. Accessed  19th November, 2018

Pentatone Records catalogue entry for Marcel Tyberg’s Choral Masses album recorded by the South Dakota Chorale. https://www.pentatonemusic.com/tyberg-masses-south-dakota-chorale-brian-schmidt. Accessed 19th November, 2018.

60th Annual Gramaphone Awards Nominee list. (2017) .47,49.  https://www.grammy.com/sites/com/files/60thpresslist01042018.pdf Accessed 3rd December, 2018.

Thibeault, April. Katya Grineva “the Romantic Pianist”. Russian Women Magazine. 2006. http://www.russianwomenmagazine.com/amazing/grineva.htm.  Accessed 20th December, 2018.

Photo of Marcel Tyberg sourced from Archive Today website: http://archive.vn/gU3wv Accessed 29th December, 2018.