Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Tibor Paul (1909–1973)

by Michal Bosworth

This article was published:

Tibor Paul (1909-1973), conductor, was born on 29 March 1909 in Budapest, son of Antal János Paul, vintner, and his wife Gizella, née Verényi. Tibor studied piano and woodwind instruments at the Liszt Ferenc Zenemüvészeti Föiskola under the composer Zoltán Kodály and the conductors Hermann Scherchen and Felix Weingartner. In 1930 he founded the Budapest Concert Orchestra which, through his leadership and that of guest conductors, 'rapidly achieved a high standard'. On 9 November 1935 he married Maria Penninger in Budapest; they were to have two sons. In 1939 he began conducting his own orchestra. About this time he became an adviser to the recording firm Durium Products Corporation, recording supervisor of the fledgling Hungarian film institute and a conductor at the Budapest National Theatre. By 1945 he was principal conductor for the Hungarian Broadcasting Corporation.

In 1948, when communist rule was established in Hungary, Paul left for Switzerland. He conducted for the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation and at the opera house in Berne before emigrating to Australia with his family in 1950. Within a year he was a conductor with the New South Wales National Opera and a guest conductor with the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Appointed to teach orchestral and choral conducting at the New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music in 1954, he was also principal conductor for the Elizabethan Theatre Trust Opera Company in 1954-55. On 28 November 1955 he was naturalized.

Paul found that the A.B.C. was unable to offer him sufficient engagements. He regularly corresponded with (Sir) Charles Moses, the general manager, asking to be given more concerts. During his nine years with the commission he worked extremely hard, travelled widely throughout Australia and conducted in every capital city. Meanwhile, he made trips to Britain, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Portugal and Austria. A vigorous promoter of Australian composers, he toured Europe and North America in 1958 and included the work of Australians in his concerts.

In 1959 Paul left for Europe with his wife and younger son. He eventually settled in Ireland, where he was principal conductor (1961-67) with the Radio Eireann Symphony Orchestra and director of music (1962-67) for Radio and Telefis Eireann, Dublin. Although he visited Australia from time to time, he was based in Ireland for almost seven years. A versatile and accomplished musician, he had a fiery temperament. At the behest of the Elizabethan Theatre Trust, he returned to Sydney in October 1968 to conduct its orchestra. Over the next six years he divided his time between Australia and Europe.

Appointed conductor of the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra in 1971, Paul led three seasons in Perth. He knew by heart 47 symphonies, 11 operas and numerous other works, and seldom conducted from a score. In January 1973 he conducted the combined West Australian and South Australian symphony orchestras in a performance to inaugurate the Concert Hall, Perth. Survived by his wife and sons, he died of a coronary occlusion on 11 November 1973 in his home at Wahroonga, Sydney, and was cremated with Catholic rites.

Select Bibliography

  • Musical Times (London), Jan 1974
  • Sun-Herald (Sydney), 13 Nov 1966
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 12 Nov 1973
  • West Australian, 12 Nov 1973
  • naturalisation file A446/184, item 53/49125 (National Archives of Australia)
  • SP613/1, 7/19/5 parts I and II, SP1011/2, Box 76, ST3836/1/0, Box 5, ST1890/1/0, Box 15, C687 T2, Box 6 (National Archives of Australia)
  • concert notes, July 1959 and 20 May 1972 (Alexander Library).

Related Thematic Essay

Citation details

Michal Bosworth, 'Paul, Tibor (1909–1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 18 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


29 March, 1909
Budapest, Hungary


11 November, 1973 (aged 64)
Wahroonga, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.