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Begins with the Oboe

Begins with the Oboe: A History of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Begins with the Oboe
    Book Description:

    A wealth of archival material allows an insider's view of the orchestra that has become an icon of Canadian culture and enriched the lives of Torontonians and all Canadians for over eighty years.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7123-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Andrew Davis

    In 1976 the administration of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra wisely decided that an archives section should be installed for the retention of important documents to maintain the history of the orchestra. Richard Warren volunteered to be the archivist. In 1995 Richard decided that it was time for a book giving a more in-depth account of the Orchestra’s colourful history. After seven years of intense research and writing that chronicle has arrived.

    I knew Richard personally from his first year with the orchestra; his enthusiasm and dedication have been an inspiration to musicians, administration staff, directors, and myself alike. He and...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Prelude
    (pp. 3-8)

    In 1920 Edward Johnson (1878–1959), the eminent Canadian tenor and Metropolitan Opera star, said, ‘I want to see Toronto produce and maintain a full time professional symphony orchestra. This city is a very important metropolis of North America and it therefore needs and must have one.’ Undoubtedly, Johnson was well aware of the unsuccessful attempts made over the past sixty years.

    The musical situation in Toronto before the advent of the present Toronto Symphony Orchestra is important because it encompasses the many elements that led to the orchestra’s eventual formation. During the latter half of the nineteenth century the musical...

  7. CHAPTER TWO 1922–1931: Luigi von Kunits
    (pp. 9-18)

    During the 1920s most of the professional musicians in Toronto were employed in the numerous theatres throughout the city. Many of these musicians were anxious to play classical repertoire, and a number of them had performed in the Welsman orchestra. In the early spring of 1922, these musicians met to discuss the possibilities of once again building a symphony orchestra. They delegated violinist Louis Gesensway and flutist Abe Fenbogue to approach Luigi von Kunits to see whether he would be willing to rehearse and conduct an orchestra.

    Luigi von Kunits (1870–1931) was born and raised in the musically rich...

  8. CHAPTER THREE 1931–1945: Sir Ernest MacMillan, Part 1
    (pp. 19-40)

    Ernest MacMillan (1893–1973), one of the most prominent figures of his time in Canadian music history, was born in Mimico, Ontario. He began organ studies at the age of eight and soon was performing in public. During a family sojourn in Edinburgh (1905–8) he continued his organ studies with Alfred Hollins, and also attended music classes at the University of Edinburgh. Back at home, he served as organist of Knox Presbyterian Church in Toronto for two years and then spent an additional year studying music in Britain. On his return to Toronto, he studied modern history at the...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR 1945–1956: Sir Ernest MacMillan, Part 2
    (pp. 41-60)

    1945–1946 After six years of war, with all its uncertainty, anguish, and tension, it was time for regrouping and rebuilding. Musicians who had been away on active service with the Canadian Forces returned. Unlike the situation at the end of the First World War, the orchestra was still fully intact. President of the Board W.G. Watson and MacMillan had stressed the importance of music as a significant element in morale building during the war, and with determination and dedication had maintained regular concerts. The size of the postwar orchestra increased from eighty-one to eighty-four musicians.

    This first postwar season...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE 1956–1965: Walter Susskind
    (pp. 61-80)

    Although Walter Susskind was well known at the time in Britain and Europe, his North American presence consisted of his recent guest appearances with the TSO. Walter Susskind (1913–80) was born in Prague. He received his musical education at the Prague State Conservatory, where he studied piano with Karel Hoffmeister and composition with Josef Suk and Alois Hába, and at the German Academy of Music, where he studied conducting with George Szell. After his graduation, he became assistant conductor of the German Opera in Prague, and from 1933 to 1942 he was also the pianist with the Czech Trio....

  11. CHAPTER SIX 1965–1973: Seiji Ozawa and Karel Ančerl
    (pp. 81-108)

    This chapter covers the orchestra under two different music directors. One was an enthusiastic, charismatic young man, who almost overnight had enthralled music critics across North America. The other was a mature elder statesman who was one of the predominant maestros of the European classical music scene. Neither stayed with the TSO for long. The younger conductor moved on to new challenges, while the more senior conductor unfortunately succumbed to a long and painful illness. Both men had a profound effect on the future of the TSO.

    1965–1966 Seiji Ozawa received his early musical training in Japan, where he...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN 1973–1975: Victor Feldbrill, Resident Conductor
    (pp. 109-120)

    1973–1975 TheConcise Oxford Dictionarydescribes ‘intermezzo’ as ‘a short connecting instrumental movement in an opera or other musical work.’ In 1973 the Toronto Symphony Orchestra had reached a point that could be identified as the end of Act 1. This ‘intermezzo’ chapter records how the TS dealt with the situation that had been suddenly thrust upon them, and how it prepared for the beginning of the next act. The death of Karel Ančerl, which had stunned the music community in Toronto, across Canada, and abroad, placed the TS in a situation that required decisive managerial action. The 1973–4...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT 1975–1982: Andrew Davis at Massey Hall
    (pp. 121-144)

    ‘One day, whilst I was at King’s College, Cambridge, a friend of mine asked if I would conduct a small group for a performance of a Haydn divertimento. From then on I knew that conducting was the career in music that I would follow,’ Andrew Davis said in an interview with the author.¹ After this first experience, Davis conducted three contrasting works for the Cambridge University Musical Society:Five Pieces for Orchestra, op. 16, by Arnold Schoenberg, Alban Berg’sViolin Concerto, andHarold in Italyby Hector Berlioz.

    Andrew Davis began playing the piano at the age of six. He...

  14. CHAPTER NINE 1982–1987: Andrew Davis at Roy Thomson Hall
    (pp. 145-180)

    1982–1983 On Sunday, 12 September, a special ‘Hard Hat’ concert was presented – a preview of the gala concert to be given the following day as a thank-you to everyone who had been involved in the construction of the hall. At noon on Monday, 13 September 1982, the section of Simcoe Street from King Street to Front Street was closed to traffic for the official opening of Roy Thomson Hall. Dignitaries representing the federal, provincial, and municipal governments were in attendance, along with representatives of the boards of Roy Thomson Hall, the Toronto Symphony, and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. After...

  15. CHAPTER TEN 1988–1994: Günther Herbig
    (pp. 181-198)

    Günther Herbig made his debut with the TS in February 1982 with an inspired performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8. Herbig was born in Ústí nad Labem, Czechoslovakia, in 1931. He began his music study at the age of nine with lessons in piano, cello, and flute, and in the early 1950s studied conducting at the Musikhochschule in Weimar with Hermann Abendroth. Later he also studied with Hermann Scherchen, Arvids Jansons, and Herbert von Karajan. He held conducting positions at the Deutsches Nationaltheatre (Weimar, 1957–62) and the Hans-Otto-Theatre (Potsdam, 1962–6), the (East) Berlin Symphony Orchestra (1966–72 and...

  16. CHAPTER ELEVEN 1994–2000: Jukka-Pekka Saraste
    (pp. 199-216)

    Jorma Panula, now retired as professor of conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, is still in demand the world over as a juror and teacher. All teaching faculties and orchestras want something of the man and the method that launched Esa-Pekka Salonen, Osmo Vanska, Sakari Oramo, and Jukka-Pekka Saraste, to name but four successful students. Three of these young conductors have held positions with British orchestras. Vanska was chief conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and Oramo is music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Saraste was principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra before he...

  17. Toward the Unknown: 2001—2002
    (pp. 217-222)

    The future for symphony orchestras in Canada is, at best, unpredictable. It seems that governments at all levels have failed to realize the importance of cultural organizations and the benefits they bestow on the nation. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is a great orchestra but it cannot maintain its high standards if it must constantly worry about where the next dollar is coming from. In the last week of September 2001 the Toronto Symphony Orchestra found itself in challenging circumstances.

    Jukka-Pekka Saraste’s tenure had been one of administrative turmoil. When Saraste took up the position of Music Director, Max Tapper was...

  18. Afterword
    (pp. 223-226)
    Bob Rae

    Richard Warren’s death meant that he was not able to complete the final chapter on the latest challenges facing the TSO. Richard was a wonderful devotee of the TSO. He lived and breathed it for years, and saw it come through its last crisis. This book is a wonderful and entirely fitting tribute to his passion for music, and his deep commitment to the Toronto Symphony.

    But in every sense there can be no ‘final word.’ There will be many views about what happened in the year 2001. This writer was originally asked to act as an adviser to an...

  19. Notes
    (pp. 227-228)
  20. APPENDIX A Musicians of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra
    (pp. 229-248)
  21. APPENDIX B Music Directors, Conductors, and Composers
    (pp. 249-250)
  22. APPENDIX C Presidents/Chairmen of the Board of Directors
    (pp. 251-251)
  23. APPENDIX D Canadian Works Commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (since 1960)
    (pp. 252-254)
  24. APPENDIX E Discography
    (pp. 255-260)
  25. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 261-262)
  26. Index
    (pp. 263-287)