Category Archives: Music – General Interest

Our 46th season!

On February 16, 2017 we announced our 46th season!

Season subscription for our 2017-2018 season went on sale in February and were mailed out in mid August.  Contact the box office if you have any questions – 416-366-7723

Quatuor Mosaïques open our season and our string series on October 19th with their Toronto debut.  Celebrating their 30th season, they will perform Mozart and Haydn on their period instruments.

November 7th will be the opening of our piano series with Benjamin Grosvenor.  This will be Grosvenor’s 3rd recital for us and we look forward to his return.

The Škampa Quartet perform on November 16th.  This outstanding Czech string quartet has released 15 award-winning recordings and now is your chance to hear them live in Toronto.

Montreal pianist and first recipient of the Prix Goyer (Extreme Emerging Artist), Philip Chiu makes his Toronto recital debut with us on November 28th.

Our annual Gryphon Trio concert will finish out the 2017 calendar year for us on December 7th.

We start 2018 with the Brentano Quartet and soprano Dawn Upshaw performing together on January 11th.

Stephen Hough returns to our stage on January 23rd for our first piano recital of 2018.  He will be playing a number of pieces by Debussy in honour of the 100th year anniversary of Debussy’s death.

The exuberant St. Lawrence Quartet return for their annual visit on February 1st.

Esteemed Russian pianist Alexei Lubimov joins us at the age of 74 with our February 6th concert.

The Apollon Musagète Quartet return on February 22nd. This dynamic, award-winning young quartet had their Toronto debut on our stage in November 2015.  We are pleased to host a long awaited return engagement.

The Penderecki Quartet join us on March 15th.  This 31 year old quartet has been the Quartet-in-Residence down the road in Waterloo at Wilfrid Laurier University for the past 20 years.

Hungarian pianist Dénes Várjon returns to close our Piano Series for the 2017-2018 season on March 27th.

And the final concert of our 46th season will be the Toronto debut of the award-winning Schumann Quartet on April 12th.

We look forward to having you join us!

Single tickets are now on sale.  In addition to our regular tickets for $50 or $55, we also have $10 student tickets.  These can be purchased for full time students.  An accompanying non-student can purchase a regular ticket at the same time for half price.  So parents, bring your kids.  And grown up students, bring your parents!  If you are between the ages of 18 and 35 and not a student, take advantage of our pay your age tickets available for any of our concerts.  Student tickets and pay your age tickets need to be purchased in person or via phone at 416-366-7723.

For more information on the individual concerts, please visit our website here


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Wrapping up our 44th season!

Tonight we finish our 44th season with a performance by the Artemis Quartet.  This world-class quartet will give their Toronto debut on our stage. An exciting finish to a great season!

We started the season what feels like a lifetime ago but was really only six short months ago!  October started us off with the return of Benjamin Grosvenor (Oct. 13) and then the Toronto debut of Cuarteto Casals (Oct. 22).  Both concerts were amazing evenings to start off our piano series and quartet series respectively for the season!

Our past season featured several Toronto debuts.  In addition to Cuarteto Casals, we presented the Toronto debuts of Peter Jablonski (Nov. 10), the Apollon Musagète Quartett (Nov. 25), and the Artemis Quartet (Apr. 14).  All stunning performances!

The fall also saw the world premiere of a new composition by Nicole Lizée – Isabella Blow at Somerset House (2015) performed by the Cecilia Quartet (Nov. 5).

We ended 2015 with another world premiere!  We were treated to Gryphon Realms by Vincent Ho written for and played by the Gryphon Trio (Dec. 10).

We rang in the new year with the familiar and enchanting sounds of Marc-André Hamelin at the piano (Jan. 5).  We covered all our main areas in January!  We presented the popular and talented JACK Quartet (Jan. 14) as part of our strings and Contemporary Classics series.  And we finished off the month with a Discovery series vocal recital by Canadian opera star Andriana Chuchman (Jan. 21) accompanied by pianist Craig Terry.

February was a month of strings with the Annex Quartet coming to our main stage for the first time (Feb. 4) and a return of the ever popular St. Lawrence Quartet (Feb. 18).

The busy month of March kept us on our toes.  With a snow storm at the door, Stephen Osborne (Mar. 1) gave a wonderful piano recital to the crowd who had braved the weather.  Collectif9 (Mar. 10) brought a nonet to our stage with a light show to back up their innovative sound.  And on St. Patrick’s Day we all forgot about green beer for a few hours and listened to the extraordinary performance of Quatuor Ebène (Mar. 17).

Last week we had the final performance of our piano series this season with Duo Turgeon (Apr. 5).  As this concert was part of our Contemporary Classics series, we were also treated to conversation from the stage with Jeffrey Ryan, our composer advisor.  It was a lovely way to end the piano series for another season!

Join us tonight for our final string performance of this season – the Toronto debut of the Artemis Quartet!

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Peter Jablonski concert November 10, 2015

by guest writer Julie Berridge

On November 10, Peter Jablonski features in his performance, musical expressions of nationalism and culture: Mazurkas and a polonaise from Poland, and Mexican folk songs.

The polonaise is one of the five historic national dances of Poland. It started as a peasant dance and then later gained popularity with the nobility and townspeople. Chopin’s Polonaise Opus 25 No. 1 is often thought to be an expression of the love for his country Poland, and in his later polonaises, what has been interpreted as anger over the political fate of Poland, is a prominently heard. Robert Schumann referred to Chopin’s polonaises as “cannons buried in flowers”.

The mazurka is another historic national dance of Poland and Jablonski performs mazurkas from Chopin and Szymanowski. Chopin lived from 1810 to 1849 and Szymanowski, from 1882 to 1937. Szymanowski continued the nationalism in the twentieth century that Chopin had given musical expression to in the 19th century. Syzmanowski‘s mazurkas were directly influenced by Polish Highland folk music. Of the highlands, Syzmanowski wrote, “My discovery of the essential beauty of Goral (Polish Highlander) music, dance and architecture is a very personal one; much of this beauty I have absorbed into my innermost soul

Aaron Copland based El Salon Mexico on four Mexican folk songs that he had obtained while visiting Mexico in 1932: “El palo verde,” “La Jesusita,” “El mosco,” and “El malacate.” Copland quickly developed an affinity with its culture. Of El Salon Mexico, Copland noted “From the beginning it was associated in my mind with a dance hall in Mexico City called Salon Mexico, a real ‘hot spot’ where one somehow felt a close contact with the Mexican people…Bands played a kind of music that was harsh, flavorsome, screechy and potentially violent. El Salon Mexico is, I suppose, a sort of musical souvenir.” Composed originally as an orchestral piece, Bernstein later arranged it for solo piano and then for two pianos.

Jablonski also plays Grieg, Rachmaninoff and Scriabin

Grieg’s Ballade in G Minor followed the death of his parents and young daughter. In the Ballade can be heard angry and melancholy moments as well as moments of grandeur and beauty. Grieg said that it was written “with my life’s blood in days of sorrow and despair.

Rachmaninoff never elaborated on what inspired his Études tableaux. Instead, he said that he wanted listeners and performers to “paint for themselves what it most suggests”.

Scriabin and a nocturne born of necessity – In the summer of 1891, Scriabin was unable to use his right hand. So he composed Nocturne for the Left Hand which became a huge hit in America, after his New York publisher reprinted and sold thousands of copies of the piece.

Join us on Tuesday to hear Peter Jablonski perform the pieces above!

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Clara Schumann

We continue our look at the Schumann’s by shifting over to Clara. Clara was born in 1819 in Leipzig and was both an accomplished pianist and a composer. Her parents were Friedrich Wieck and Marianne Tromlitz. Marianne was a well known singer in Leipzig. Friedrich was a music teacher, instrument seller, and had a music lending library.

Friedrich and Marianne were married for 8 years and had 5 children. They divorced when Clara was 5 years old. Clara and her brothers all stayed with their father and were raised by him.

Friedrich knew his daughter was talented and capitalized on that talent from the beginning. She took lessons in piano, violin, theory, and composition. Clara started playing at a young age and was giving small concerts quite early in her life. It was at one of these early concerts that she and Robert met, both being guests at the same function.

Robert would become a pupil of her father and even lived in their house for a year. The bond between Clara and Robert started early and would grow into a life long commitment. Clara supported her husband through years of illness. Robert encouraged her composing and toured with her for performances. After Robert’s death, Clara devoted herself to performing and promoting her husband’s music. She lived for 61 years and spent pretty much all of it playing music, surrounded by family.

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Johanna Schumann

Robert Schumann was the youngest child in his family, born to Johanna Christine and August Schumann in 1810. Much of his young life was spent surrounded by literature and music thanks to his parents.

Friedrich August Gottlob Schumann was born in 1773. He was a German bookseller and publisher and the literature influence in Robert’s young life. August passed away in 1826 at the age of 53, when Robert was only 16 years old.

Robert’s mother, Johanna Christina (Iohanne Christiane) Schnabel, was one of his main influences in his early life. She was nearing or over 40 when Robert was born. Raising the children fell completely on her shoulders. She loved to sing and had imparted a love of music to all of her children. The older children played piano. Robert and his mother sang together from when he was very young. They had a very strong relationship and she was supportive and encouraging of her son throughout. With her husband’s passing, determining Robert’s future fell to her. For a time, he studied law as she wanted to ensure that he had a prosperous future. However, there came a time when he knew he wanted to pursue music as a career. Concerned she spoke with Professor Frederick Wieck, his future father-in-law and after being reassured that he had the talent, she gave Robert her blessing to pursue his dreams. She lived until Robert was 26 years old and he was heartbroken when she passed.

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Schubert’s parents

Continuing on with a look at parental figures of some of the great composers of old, today we look at Schubert’s ancestors.  Franz Peter Schubert was born to Franz Theodor Florian Schubert and Maria Elisabeth Katharina Vietz.

His mother, Elisabeth, was born in 1756 in Silesia.  Her father was Franz Johann Vietz from Zuckmantel, Northeastern Silesia.  He was a locksmith and gunmaker.  He did advance within that profession over the years and held a respected position in his field.  He even held the office of sheriff at one point.  He moved his family to Vienna shortly before he died in 1770, when Elisabeth would have been about 14.  Elisabeth served as a housemaid for a family in Vienna before marrying into the Schubert family at the age of 29.

Franz Theodor was born in 1763 in Moravia.  His parents, Karl Schubert and Susanna Mück, were farmers.  Franz Theodor moved to Vienna around 1783.  In 1784, he worked as a teacher at his brother’s school.  He and Elisabeth married in 1785 and 1786 saw him become Schoolmaster at Himmelpfortgrund, a school his son would eventually attend.  Franz Theodor was not a formally trained musician but he was able to pass along some basics to his son at an early age and started his outside musical training at the age of seven.  The family did have their own quartet in which Franz Theodor played the cello, brothers Ferdinand and Ignaz played the violins, and Franz Peter played the viola.  As a school teacher, Franz Theodor was well known and he ran a well attended school.  He had wanted his son to follow in his footsteps and become a teacher at his school.  Indeed Franz Peter did start to train as a teacher and worked in his father’s school for a time until his compositions started to gain notice and he secured a position with Count Johann Karl Esterházy.  Franz Theodor passed away in 1830, two years after the death of his now famous son.

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Mathias Haydn

Last week we took a look at Beethoven’s parents. This week, let’s look at Mathias Haydn, father to composer Franz Joseph, composer Johann Michael Haydn and tenor Johann Evangelist.

Mathias was born in 1699 in the small town of Hainburg. His father, Thomas, was a wheelwright and Mathias followed in his footsteps. After his apprenticeship, he left Hainburg and traveled as a journeyman for 10 years. It is during this time that Mathias took up the harp. He was self taught and could not read music but he had a great love for music and apparently a lovely tenor voice. In 1727, he returned and became a master wheelwright, joining the guild. The next year, he married Maria Koller. They settled in Rohrau in a house that Mathias had built himself.

Mathias and Maria both sang and included their children in learning those folk songs. The family performed small concerts for their village neighbours. At the age of six, Joseph was sent to Hainburg to start his studies in music with the blessing of his parents. In turn, his two brothers followed.

In 1741, Mathis became the Marktrichter (meaning market judge in German), what we might think of as a village mayor, though his duties far exceeded that as he was responsible for the conduct of the people, including ensuring that they went to church each week. He held this position until 1761.

In 1747, Maria died and Mathis remarried soon after. Mathis passed away in 1763 after an accident while working which resulted in several broken ribs. He lived long enough to see his children well on their way to successful careers!

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Franz Kraemer

Back in 1971, Franz Kraemer became the music director of the Toronto Arts Foundation and started programming music concerts at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. This was the start of what would eventually become Music Toronto as we know it today.

Kraemer was born in Vienna in 1914. He studied composition with Berg and orchestration with Scherchen. He moved to Canada in 1940, escaping persecution in Austria during the war, and then spent 3 years in internment camps here. He eventually continued his studies in Canada and, in 1947, became a Canadian citizen.

In 1946, Kraemer joined CBC. Initially he was in Montreal working as one of their producers. 1952 found him moving to Toronto as an executive producer on the English network of CBC TV. He produced many operas on TV in the late 1950’s and 1960’s. Documentaries of music greats like Igor Stravinsky followed as well. He stayed with the CBC until 1970.

After working with the Toronto Arts Foundation, he continued in the music field by working with the Canada Council, becoming the head of the music section from 1979 to 1985. He officially retired in 1986 and then became a director of the Sylva Gelber Foundation. He served as an advisor and consultant for several other music associations in his retirement until his passing in 1999.

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Count Razumovsky

Back at the beginning of the season, we heard one of the Prussian string quartets from Mozart played by the Jerusalem Quartet. On January 30th, we will be treated to another one of the Prussian string quartets with the Alcan Quartet, Quartet in F Major, K. 590. These pieces were originally commissioned by the King of Prussia. ( On the 30th, we will also be treated to a piece from Beethoven that was commissioned by a Count. The String Quartet No. 8 in E minor, opus 59, no. 2 is one of three pieces written for Count Razumovsky.

Andrey Kirillovich Razumovsky was a Russian diplomat stationed in Vienna for many years. He was born in November of 1752 and married in 1788. His marriage was in Vienna to Countess Elisabeth Thun, sister to the wife of Prince Lichnowsky, a friend of Beethoven. Razumovsky was also the brother-in-law to Prince Joseph Lobkowitz, another of Beethoven’s main supporters. It is believed that Razumovsky met Beethoven fairly soon after Beethoven’s arrival in Vienna in 1792. This is the same year that Razumovsky was appointed as the diplomatic representative to the Habsburg court in Vienna. At this point, Razumovsky held the title of Count and eventually he would be elevated to Prince by Alexander I.

The Razumovsky quartets were commissioned and composed in 1806 and published in 1808. Each piece was to contain a Russian theme. In String Quartet No. 8 in E minor, opus 59, no. 2, Beethoven used a folk song called Slava in the fourth movement. Count Razumovsky was an amateur violin player, playing second violin at times with quartets. He was a patron of the arts, known for his art collection. In 1808, he established a house string quartet with Ignaz Schuppanzigh, Louis Sina, Franz Weiss, and Joseph Linke.

Patrons play a large part in classical music and we are grateful for all of them past, present, and future!

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Often music pieces are dedicated to someone by the composer.  Sometimes these dedications are to a family member, to a lover or love interest, to an honoured patron, or to the composer’s muse.  This practice has been in place for centuries!

Tonight we will hear Trio in D Major, Op 70, No. 1, Ghost by Beethoven.  This piece was written in 1808 in Heiligenstadt, Vienna and published in 1809.   Opus 70 consists of two piano trios and Beethoven dedicated them to Countess Anna Maria von Erdödy.

Born in 1779 and married at 17, Countess Anna Maria von Erdödy eventually separated from her husband and lived in Vienna.  A pianist herself, she held music soirées at her Vienna apartment.  She and Beethoven met in 1804, most likely through mutual musical friends.  By 1808, Beethoven was actively considering leaving Vienna. Countess von Erdödy was instrumental in establishing an alliance between Prince Lobkowitz, Prince Kinsk and Archduke Rudolph which resulted in Beethoven being given an annual salary of 4,000 florins if he agreed to reside permanently in Vienna.  Beethoven agreed and stayed in Vienna for the remainder of his life.  To express his gratitude for her part in this arrangement, Beethoven wrote and dedicated the two piano trios to the Countess.

What a wonderful gift to give someone!


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