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Lost Lieder Rediscovered

A world premiere program of songs by Holocaust victim Marcel Tyberg

On Tuesday, April 13 at 7:30pm, UB faculty members Tony Arnold, soprano, Alexander Hurd, baritone, and Alison d’Amato, piano, offer a world premiere performance of Marcel Tyberg’s Song Cycle from Heinrich Heine’s “Lyrischen Intermezzo” in Slee Hall.

The story of the survival of the Austrian-born composer Marcel Tyberg’s manuscripts is a remarkable one. Tyberg (1893-1944) left Austria with his father, a prominent violinist and his mother, a noted pianist, in the middle of World War I, moving to Italy’s Adriatic region. Details of Tyberg’s musical education are sketchy, but he emerged as a composer during the 1920s. After the death of his father, he eked out a meager living as an organist and teacher, supporting his mother while conducting some of his own works with local musical groups. Self-effacing to a fault, Tyberg never sought publication of his manuscripts. When the Germans occupied the region, Tyberg, who was murdered in Auschwitz, entrusted his manuscripts to a family friend, the Italian physician Milan Mihich. His son, Enrico Mihich, studied with Tyberg, and after his father died, he immigrated to the US with the manuscripts, working as a physician at Roswell Park. Mihich tried without any success to interest various Buffalo musicians in the work of Tyberg, until BPO music director Joann Falletta investigated the scores in 2005 and, recognizing their intrinsic musical worth, joined with the Foundation for Jewish Philanthropies in a project to perform and record all of Tyberg’s music.

Robert Schumann had famously set 16 poems from the same collection by Heine in Dichterliebe, his best known song cycle, and Tyberg included five of those same poems among his 32 song settings.

Tony Arnold offered some of her thoughts on this performance of Tyberg’s Heinrich Heine lieder cycle, the latest installment in the venture:

“The lieder were written in three books from 1925 to 1929, but it’s hard to tell whether they were originally conceived of as a set. There’s certainly a common group of themes: love, rejection, and a wonderfully caustic irony, since they’re all from the Lyrischen Intermezzo, but there doesn’t seem to be any themes that are reused, and the order is very different than Heine’s. It’s equally as likely that Tyberg simply loved Heine’s poems and that he wrote just about enough for an entire evening and called it a ‘Liederzyklus.’

“They were mostly written for Tatjana and Johanna Kubelik, the daughters of the renowned Czech violinist Jan Kubelik, a personal friend of Tyberg’s and the father of the famed conductor Rafael Kubelik, who had premiered Tyberg’s Symphony No. 2.

“We’ve noticed that the songs seem more Mahlerian than Straussian, and we think that Tyberg was familiar with Mahler, especially with the Knaben Wunderhorn songs. There are many overt Mahler-isms, such as the use of the ‘Neapolitan’ chord to transition into the second section of No. 2 (Liebste, sollst mir heute sagen), which is reminiscent of parts of the ‘Goethe’ movement of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8. The main musical material in No. 10 (Mir träumte von einem Königskind) quotes a Mahler song. There are also a lot of Mahlerian, folksy touches, with peasant dance rhythms in No. 7 (O schwöre nicht und küsse nur) and No. 10 (Mir träumte von einem Königskind).

“Besides the more overt Mahler references, there are many sections where the piano writing brings to mind some of the glitzier songs of Richard Strauss. No. 1 (Du liebst mich nicht), No. 4 (Aus alten Märchen), No. 5 (Auf meiner Herzliebsten Äugelein), and No. 7 (O schwöre nicht und küsse nur) in particular remind us of Strauss songs like Schlechtes Wetter. Alison d’Amato also hears some touches of Alexander Zemlinsky’s style in the ‘Schattengestalten’ section of No. 6 (Meine Wagen rollt langsam). There’s definitely Schumann in there too, but as if Schumann were a late 19th-century figure.”

Tickets are $10 general admission; $5 for faculty, staff, alumni, senior citizens, and non-UB students; and free to UB students with valid ID. For more information, visit

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