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Tiberius (“Tibor”) Klausner was born in Arad, Transylvania (Romania) in 1931, the second of Hermann and Margareta Klausner’s three sons. Eight-year-old Tibor fell in love with the violin after hearing a gypsy violinist playing outside his father’s restaurant. When a violinist from Arad who attended the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest “tested” Tibor’s ear and found it be be exceptional, his parents agreed that he should begin violin lessons. He 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 in Arad. During the last year of the war, the family went into hiding on farms in the Romanian countryside, sleeping in barns or wherever they could find shelter, until they were liberated by the Russian Army.


Budapest and Paris

After liberation by the Russians, the Mayor of Arad, who was himself an amateur violinist, arranged for a visa that allowed fourteen-year-old Tibor to travel to Budapest. There, he studied music at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music with Ede Zathureczky and was awarded the Remenyi Prize, given to the best violin student at the Academy.

In 1948, the Communists closed the Hungarian-Romanian border and refused to renew his passport. Tibor escaped to Paris using a falsified passport arranged for him by the Kahan-Frankl family, prominent members of the Orthodox Jewish community in Budapest who had “adopted” him. Accepted at the Conservatoire de Paris on a full scholarship, he studied with René Benedetti and won the Premier Prix in 1952, the Conservatoire’s highest award. While studying in Paris, his family was allowed to emigrate from Romania to Israel.

In 1953 at the age of 21, Tibor won a full scholarship to The Julliard School in New York City. But because he was considered a “stateless person,” he couldn’t obtain a visa to come to the U.S. Then Carel van Creveld, who was married to Tibor’s first cousin, Dora, intervened. He arranged for the U.S. Consul in Paris to attend a Christmas concert where Tibor would be playing. “I had a solo,” Tibor remembers, “The Four Seasons by Vivaldi and it was a big success.” Such a success that he was issued a visa and bartered his way to New York City playing concerts on the S.S. Liberte’ ocean-liner in exchange for a second-class cabin.

New York and Julliard

At Julliard, he balanced studies and serving as Concertmaster for the Julliard Orchestra with jobs working at a tie company and splicing records. He made $25.00 a week and paid $11.25 for a room with a shared bathroom and a kitchenette on 122nd Street. In 1954, he received a scholarship to attend the Boston Symphony’s Tanglewood Summer Music Festival, where he was Concertmaster of the student orchestra and received the Heifetz Prize for the best student violinist.

Kansas City

Upon graduation from Julliard in 1955 with an Artist’s Diploma, his teacher, the renowned violinist Ivan Galamian, recommended him to Hans Schwieger, conductor of the Kansas City Philharmonic, for the position of Concertmaster. At age 23, Tibor became the youngest Concertmaster of a major symphony orchestra in the United States.

In 1961, the same year he won a National Federation of Music Club’s Young Artist Award, Tibor became a U.S. citizen, which he regards as one of the proudest moments of his life. 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.


After 12 years with the Philharmonic, Tibor resigned in 1967 to devote 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. In 1982, Tibor was asked by Conductor Russell Patterson to resume the role of Concertmaster with the establishment of the Kansas City Symphony. He continued as Concertmaster until 1999 and greatly enjoyed playing under the musical direction of Patterson and, later, Bill McGlaughlin.

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 has always considered himself fortunate: “The variety I have with teaching, chamber music and the symphony – that is a complete life.”


Tibor participated in many summer music festivals (Marlboro was his and his wife Carla’s favorite), performed with major orchestras in the U.S., Israel, and South Korea and chamber music groups including the Mid-America String Quartet, the Klausner Quartet, and the Volker String Quartet. In 1964, he became the first classical violinist to play on Iranian television. Throughout his career, Tibor  enjoyed his collaborations with some of Kansas City’s finest musicians, both in his quartets and through his “Klausner and Friends” concerts.  His duo concerts with Richard Cass, which spanned over 25 years until Richard’s sudden death in 2009, were labors of love with the pianist whom he regarded like a brother.


When Tibor was at Julliard and Carla was at Barnard College, they attended the same services at the Jewish Theological Seminary and she even attended one of his concerts at Julliard. But they didn’t meet until the fall of 1959 when both were in Kansas City.  Abe Meth, ritual director at Beth Shalom synagogue had asked Tibor to play at a Chanukah Festival and as Tibor needed an accompanist, Abe connected him with pianist Rose Levine, who was Carla’s mother.  Carla was home from Boston where she had just received her Master’s in History from Radcliffe College when Tibor to come to her house to rehearse. He was immediately smitten – first by Rose and then by Carla.


They were married in 1963, two weeks before Carla received her Ph.D. in History and Middle East Studies from Harvard. In 1967, Danielle was born and then twins, Mirra and Serena, in 1970. They now have five granddaughters and they all love music


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