Tiberius Klausner "I think how blessed I am with my wonderful wife and children, the opportunity to make beautiful music, and the solace and peace I feel with Judaism. A life filled with family, music and faith is a happy one." Tiberiu Klausner was born in Arad, Transylvania, Romania in 1931, the second of three boys born to Hermann and Margareta Klausner. Tibor fell in love with the violin at an early age after hearing a gypsy violinist playing outside his father's neighborhood restaurant. He started lessons at age eight and played his first recital at age nine. During World War II, Tibor's family's business and apartment were taken away by the pro-German Romanian authorities, his father was sent to a labor camp, and the family was forced into the Jewish ghetto. Tibor always marveled at how his family maintained kosher dietary laws and his mother supported their family by trading on the black market during that difficult time. During the last year of the war, as the Nazis were about to break through the border, the family went into hiding on farms in the Romanian countryside. After being liberated by the Russians in 1945, the family returned to Arad. The mayor of Arad, who was an amateur violinist, recognized Tibor's talent and arranged for a Romanian visa that would allow him to study music in Hungary for one year. Tibor was accepted at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest at age 14 where he studied with Ede Zathurestsky and won the Remenyi Prize. When the communists closed the Hungarian-Romanian border in 1948 and refused to renew his passport, Tibor escaped to Paris using a falsified passport with a French visa arranged by the prominent Jewish Kahan-Frankl family in Budapest. He was accepted at the Conservatoire National de Musique on a full scholarship, where he studied with René Benedetti and won the Premier Prix in 1952, the Conservatory's highest award. He was also named Concertmaster of the Kuentz Chamber Orchestra. In Paris, Tibor added an "s" to the end of his name so that it would be more easily pronounced. During that time, his family was allowed to emigrate to Israel. Tibor maintained close contact with them, including weekly letters with his brothers and parents (typed with two fingers on his Hermes typewriter), and he was finally able to see them again in 1951. He visited his family in Israel 24 times in the years that followed. Tibor was accepted with a full scholarship to Julliard in 1953 at the age of 21; however, he was a stateless person and was not issued a visa to America. Tibor's cousin arranged for him to play at a Christmas concert in Paris where the American Consul would be present. Through that encounter, he was issued a visa and bartered his way to the United States by playing concerts on the SS Liberté ocean liner in exchange for a second-class cabin. At that time, Tibor spoke Romanian, Hungarian, German and French, but no English. He vowed to learn 15 new English words from the dictionary every day, but he never lost his Hungarian accent or his Old-World charm. "My goal was to study with the best pedagogue. Ivan Galamian accepted me [at Julliard] and it was the best thing I ever did. He was a wonderful teacher." In 1954, Tibor received a scholarship to attend the Tanglewood Summer Music Festival, where he was Concertmaster of the orchestra and won the Heifetz Prize. When Tibor graduated from Julliard in 1955 with an Artist's Diploma, Galamian recommended him to Hans Schwieger, conductor of the Kansas City Philharmonic, for the position of Concertmaster. Tibor had no idea where Kansas City was, but Galamian encouraged him to go at least for a year and try it out. At age 23, Tibor became the youngest Concertmaster of a major orchestra in the United States, and Kansas City became his home for the next 64 years. Even before he became a U.S. citizen, Tibor was drafted into the Army where he served six months active duty at Fort Leonard Wood followed by six years in the reserves and an honorable discharge. In 1961, the same year he won the National Federation of Music Club's Young Artist Award, Tibor became a U.S. citizen, which he regarded as one of the proudest moments of his life. After 12 years with the Philharmonic, Tibor resigned in 1967 to devote all his time to teaching and his "first love" -- chamber music. He became Professor of Music and Artist-in-Residence at the University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, where he taught for 32 years. Tibor absolutely adored his students and gained much joy from them. He inspired many of them to pursue careers in music, and several went on to play in major orchestras or teach. They are living out his musical legacy. Tibor participated in many summer festivals (Sewanee, Claremont, Marlboro, which he and Carla particularly enjoyed), he performed with several major orchestras in America and abroad (e.g., Israel, South Korea), and he was even the first classical violinist to play on Iranian television in 1964. Tibor re-assumed the role of Concertmaster when the Kansas City Symphony was established in 1982 and, until his retirement from the orchestra in 1999, greatly enjoyed playing under the musical direction of Russell Patterson and Bill McGlaughlin. Through the years, he participated in many chamber music groups, including the Mid-America String Quartet, the Klausner Quartet, and the Volker String Quartet in residence at the Conservatory. In 1985, Tibor was honored as Musician of the Year by the Kansas City Musical Club for his "contribution to music as a distinguished teacher and for his dedication to the promotion of musical culture in Kansas City." He always considered himself so fortunate: "The variety I have with teaching, chamber music and the symphony that is a complete life." Throughout his career, Tibor immensely enjoyed his collaboration with some of Kansas City's finest musicians in his quartets, through his "Klausner and Friends" concerts, and through his duo recitals with musicians such as Walter Cook, Gerald Kemner, and John McIntyre. He considered his collaboration with Richard Cass, which spanned 25 years as the Klausner-Cass Duo, a labor of love with the pianist whom he loved like a brother. Tiberius Klausner will certainly be remembered as a talented violinist, but his early life experiences, family and religious identity provided the foundation for what he held most dear and the motivation for how he lived his life. Although he and his wife Carla had been in New York at the same time, when he was at Julliard and she was at Barnard College, and she even attended some of his concerts at Julliard, they did not meet until the fall of 1959 back in Kansas City when Abe Meth, ritual director at Beth Shalom Synagogue, asked Tibor to play at a Chanukah program. Tibor needed an accompanist, so Abe connected him with Rose Levine, Carla's mother. Carla was home on winter break from Boston where she was studying for her doctorate in History and Middle East Studies at Harvard, when Rose asked Tibor to come to her house to rehearse. Tibor was immediately smitten first by Rose and then by Carla. He often quoted the saying "such a mother, such a daughter." Carla and Tibor married in 1963 and had three daughters. They created a family life that was full of beauty and meaning. Tibor was a member of Congregation Beth Shalom, where he served as Gabbai and attended the Library Minyan. The Klausner family's daily life was infused with rich Jewish tradition (he put on tefillin and davened every day before breakfast), appreciation of family and friends, the importance of a good education, and, of course, beautiful music. His love of Mozart might have inspired Tibor in his early life, but it was his love for his wife and family that sustained him until his death. Tibor is survived by Carla, their daughters Danielle, Serena, and Mirra (Todd Clauer), and five wonderful granddaughters: Haidee, Anna, and Aviva Clauer, and Ora and Rose Klausner; as well as his brother Dr. Gabriel Klausner and sister-in-law Pnina Klausner, both in Israel; his brother and sister by marriage, Morris and Faye Levine; and many beloved nieces and nephews. Tibor's parents and brother Toma predeceased him. The family extends their deepest thanks to the many thoughtful and wonderful friends, former students, and colleagues who came to visit or play for Tibor; the caring staff at Kansas City Hospice and Palliative Care; and the dedicated doctors and caregivers who loved his wonderful smile and provided us with much-needed assistance and support. Funeral services will be 11:00am Friday, October 11, 2019 at the Louis Memorial Chapel, 6830 Troost Ave, Kansas City, MO. Interment will be at Mt. Carmel Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to a charity of one's choice
or any of the following: the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy; the Tiberius Klausner Violin Scholarship at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance; the Rose Levine and Doris Flam Arts and Education Fund at Congregation Beth Shalom; the Tiberius Klausner Endowed Concertmaster Scholarship at the Kansas City Youth Symphony; the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education; the Klausner Concerto Competition of the Kinnor Philharmonic; Kansas City Hospice and Palliative Care. Online condolences may be left at www.louismemorialchapel.com
. (Arr: The Louis Memorial Chapel 816-361-5211)
Published by Kansas City Star on Oct. 10, 2019.