International Symposium “Music and Exile in a Global Perspective” | May 30, 2023; Reykjavik, Iceland

A symposium on “Music and Exile in a Global Perspective” took place on Tuesday, May 30, 2023 in Reykjavík, Iceland.

The symposium is part of the three-year research project “Musicians in Exile from Nazi Germany and Austria and their Role in the Development of Musical Life in Iceland, 1935-1974”. Gerold Gruber and Josipa Bainac Hausknecht gave the lecture “Art Creates Awareness: Estates of the Exilarte Center Vienna”.

© Exilarte, Josipa Hausknecht

In Reykjavik, Gerold Gruber visited the family of the Icelandic exile composer Victor Urbancic, who was born in Vienna in 1903. He studied composition, conducting and musicology at the Academy for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna (today’s mdw). Already during his studies he worked as a conductor for incidental music at the Theater in der Josefstadt. From 1926 to 1933 he worked as a solo répétiteur, operetta conductor and finally opera conductor at the Stadttheater Mainz. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Urbancic was already with Dr. Married Melitta Grunbaum. The family moved back to Austria. From 1934 Urbancic continued his teaching activities at the conservatory of the Musikverein für Steiermark in Graz. Just six months later he was appointed deputy director of the conservatory and quickly assumed an important position in Graz concert life. Around 1936, the Graz Conservatory in particular became a nucleus of the National Socialists’ “new ethnic music education”. After Hitler’s troops invaded Austria, the family was forced to flee. This is how Urbancic ended up in Iceland, where he was considered one of the pioneers of modern musical life.

Most of Victor Urbancic’s estate is located in Reykjavik. Sibyl Urbancic (the daughter of Victor Urbancic) will hand over her father’s estate, which is still in her Viennese apartment, to the Exilarte Zentrum.