Monthly Archives: January 2015


Haydn is known as the Father of the String Quartet. He was born in a village in Austria on the border with Hungary. His parents were well placed in the village with his father holding the position of what today would be the mayor. While neither of his parents had formal music training, they both enjoyed music and encouraged it within the family. Recognizing young Haydn’s talent but knowing that there was no serious training in their village, Haydn’s parents apprenticed him to a relative in Hainburg, the choirmaster. He left home at the age of 6 and never lived with his parents again.

Life was not easy for Haydn as a child away from home. Not always properly fed, he sang and learned to play the violin and harpsichord. Around the age of 17, he was dismissed by his current employer and turned out into the streets. Taken in by a friend, he started his freelance music career. Hard work, many jobs, and some self teaching followed. And obviously paid off as he became one of the most well known and respected composers.

In our upcoming season, we will hear five of his pieces:

  • Quartet in D Major, Op. 33, No. 6 played by Quatuor Mosaiques (Oct 19, 2017)
  • Piano Trio in E-flat Major, XV:29 played by the Gryphon Trio (Dec 7, 2017)
  • Quartet in C Major, Op. 33, No. 3, “The Bird” played by the St. Lawrence Quartet (Feb 1, 2018)
  • Quartet in D Major, Op. 64, No. 5, “The Lark” played by the Apollon Musagete Quartet (Feb 22, 2018)
  • Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 76, No. 4, “Sunrise” played by the Schumann Quartet (Apr 12, 2018)

Find out more about any of these concerts on our website –



Leave a comment

Filed under Composers

Marleyn Bertoli Duo

by guest contributor Julie Berridge

On February 12, the Marleyn Bertoli duo comprised of Pianist Mauro Bertoli and Cellist Paul Marleyn will perform the compositions of Beethoven, the Russian Composers Alexander Glazunov and Rachmaninov and Canadian composer Chan Ka Nin.


The performance opens with A Le Chant du Ménéstrel, a tender lyrical piece by Alexander Glazunov who at the age of 11, produced his first composition. At the age of 14, he began studying with Rimsky-Korsakov, at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and by 16, he had completed his Symphony No. 1 which debuted in March 1882. At the age of 34, he became a professor at the St. Petersburg Conservatory.

Glazunov’s friend and mentor Rimsky-Korsakov was fired from the conservatory because of his liberal views after the revolution of February 1905, following which Glazunov resigned in support. However, after the October Manifesto of Nicholas II, new rights were granted to the conservatory and Glazunov was invited back.

In the years after the 1917 revolution professors appointed under the Bolshevik regime are said to have constantly disagreed with Glazunov, taking issue with his style of composition which they thought to be outdated.

Glazunov left the Soviet Union in 1928 for the Schubert centenary celebrations in Vienna and never returned. After touring Europe, he settled in Paris.


Beethoven composed his Sonata for cello & piano in A Major, Op. 69 between 1806 and 1808. This sonata is a melodic, joyful and sensuous tale told by a cello and piano in three movements. Here, both the cello and piano play an equal role. The piece opens with the cello’s lyrical melody, answered by the piano and throughout the three movements, this musical conversation between the two is played out with spirit, joy, passion and sensuality.

Beethoven published his first composition at age 11. Born in Bonn, he moved to Vienna in 1792 when he was 22 years old and made his public debut there in 1795. Around this time he published, Opus 1, Opus 2, three piano trios and three piano sonatas.

In 1801 Beethoven composed the Moonlight Sonata. In 1802, he started to lose his hearing. When he began writing Op. 69 in 1806, he was almost completely deaf. Between the time that he started to lose his hearing, and the time he had little or no hearing left, Beethoven composed the opera Fidelio, five string quartets, seven piano sonatas, six string sonatas and 72 songs. His Ninth Symphony was composed in 1824.


Chan Ka Nin is a Canadian composer whose compositions have been described as sensuous,” “haunting,” and “intricate”, reflecting both an eastern and western aesthetic.

Born in Hong Kong, he moved with his family to Vancouver in 1965. He studied composition with Jean Coulthard while pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of British Columbia. After graduating from UBC, he studied composition with Bernhard Heiden at Indiana University and subsequently obtained his Master’s and Doctoral degrees in music. He has taught theory and composition at the University of Toronto since 1982.

Professor Chan has won numerous awards for his compositions including two JUNO awards, the Jean A. Chalmers Award, the Béla Bartók International Composers’ Competition in Hungary, and the Barlow International Competition in the United States. In 2001 he won the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Musical for his opera Iron Road, which he co-wrote with librettist Mark Brownell.

On Soulmate, the piece performed by Marleyn and Bertoli, the program notes from Professor Chan’s site say,

Soulmate is taken from the composer’s Ontario Arts Council commissioned work for the Guelph Spring Festival in 1995, Poetry On Ice, which is music written for figure skating. The piece describes two people who accept each other beyond love and affection. Their understanding is subtle, mutual, and wordless, like a pair of dancers on ice. The unending melody depicts their graceful florid movement as well as their voices from their heart.


Sergei Rachmaninov was a composer, pianist, and conductor. Born in Russia in 1873, he died in Beverley Hills, California in 1943. His music is thought of by many as the last link between 19th century romanticism and 20th century modernism.

Rachmaninov was influenced and encouraged by Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov (Glazunov’s teacher) as well as by Russia’s folklore and the music of the Russian Orthodox Church. His music is noble and rigorous.

Rachmaninov graduated from the Moscow conservatory in 1891. At the age of 19, prior to graduating, he had completed one of his best known works, the “Prelude in C Sharp Minor.

Rachmaninov enjoyed not only artistic but financial success in the years before the 1917 revolution. After the 1917 revolution, he fled to America with his family, and began an extremely lucrative career as a concert pianist.

Rachmaninov completed Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19 in 1901. The work has four movements. Rachmaninov thought that the name of the piece did not do it justice since it was a work that gave equal voice to the cello and piano. The piece was therefore often referred to as “Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano”.

Join us for the concert on February 12, 2015

Leave a comment

Filed under Composers, Performers

St. Lawrence String Quartet

The St. Lawrence String Quartet members are not strangers to our audiences! Members Geoff Nuttall (violin), Mark Fewer (violin), Lesley Robertson (viola), and Christopher Costanza (cello) have all performed for us before.

The SLSQ are the Ensemble in Residence at Stanford University. In addition to teaching music students, the quartet also works with other departments (like the School of Medicine and the Law School) to collaborate and explore musical connections. To read more about the quartet, visit their website at

Their concert for us this season includes one of their Haydn Discovery pieces. Here they will talk about Haydn and one of his pieces before playing it for us. They will explore and deconstruct it a bit with us. To listen to an early version of one of the Haydn Discovery presentations, visit this link

It is sure to be an entertaining evening as always with the SLSQ!

Leave a comment

Filed under Performers

Barbara Pritchard

by Julie Berridge

On January 20, Barbara Pritchard plays the composition of Scottish born Alwynne Pritchard, followed by music from musicians and composers who were either born in Canada or who have lived in Canada for much of their lives.

Alwynne Pritchard composed Mesarch, the piece that Barbara Pritchard opens the evening with. Mesarch takes its name from the term given to plant development where the tissue that transports water and nutrients throughout the plant, develops both from the centre of the stem and from the periphery.

Pritchard the composer is also an artist and performer. Her work has been described as “playful, sinister and altogether riveting”.

Barbara Pritchard then performs Anthony Genge’s History and Memory. Genge was born in Vancouver. In addition to studying composition at McGill and the University of Victoria, he also studied with the American composer Morton Feldman and with Japanese Composer Jo Kondo in Tokyo.

In History and Memory, diverse styles are connected by reoccurring themes. However, the musical material is unified not only by the reoccurring opening figure and various tonal relationships, but also by the way that music in earlier parts of the work reappears later in the piece to reference the original material. Genge’s works displays diverse influences including traditional Japanese, Javanese, medieval and renaissance European music, Stravinsky and the music of the New York school of composers of the 1950’s.

Daryl Jamesion was born in Nova Scotia. His composition, Mountain Cherry Blossoms is based on seven of the poems in the mediaeval Japanese anthology Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each). Jamesion is noted as saying that aging, loneliness and love are the main themes of these pieces. Jamieson writes for both Japanese and Western instruments.

Pritchard then performs from a set of variations that were composed at her request. The variations are informed by Bach’s Goldberg Variations, as well as by Maggie Helwig’s poem “The Other Goldberg Variations” in Talking Prophet Blues.

The works of these composers are as interdisciplinary and eclectic as their influences. Broken Glass was composed by Clark Ross, a professor of composition at Memorial University. Genge’s Variation for Piano uses a single harmonic structure. WL Waltman writes for voice, instruments and interactive audio. Jérôme Blais is Professor of Composition and Music Theory at Dalhousie University. In his work, traditional composition and improvisation meet. Ian Crutchley’s compositions feature not only acoustic instruments but also electronic media, and music theatre. Gibson’s Twenty Four Notes is played only above Middle C. Robert Bauer is quoted as saying that he took the Bach aria, “chopped it into pieces and randomly transposed, inverted and retrograded the pieces for re-assembly with some personal added touches, partly as linkage and partly for colour”. Michael Palmer is Toronto born and completely self-taught. David Litke describes his composition as “a bird’s ear hearing of Bach’s Goldberg Aria. The set of variations ends fittingly with Dennis Farrell’s Quodlibet and Lullaby.

Variations in a musical composition take their key, tempo and style from that which comes before it and that which it develops into. January 20 promises to be a night of musical exploration and discovery!

Leave a comment

Filed under Performers