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Interview: John Weinzweig: barn dance

Interview: John Weinzweig: barn dance


This interview is a profile of the life and work of John Weinzweig using excerpts from the composer's Barn Dance , Divertimento no. 3 , and Quintet for winds . This interview, which was broadcast on CBC Radio's Music of Today in May 1966, is hosted by Weinzweig's former student Harry Somers.

INTERVIEWEE John Weinzweig

John Weinzweig was born in Toronto in 1913. As a teenager he played in and conducted school orchestras and dance bands. At age 19 he got serious and decided to become a composer." He continued his studies at the University of Toronto where he founded and conducted the University of Toronto Symphony during his student years. Upon the invitation of Howard Hanson he enrolled in the Masters program at Eastman, where he received his first formal composition training under Bernard Rogers. At Eastman he also discovered the music of Alban Berg and the 12-tone method which was to have a lasting influence on his creative thinking. Weinzweig is regarded as the first Canadian composer to make se of this technique.

He returned to Toronto in the fall of 1938 to pursue a composing career. In 1941 he was invited by the CBC to compose the first original background music for dramatic radio presentations, and the following year he composed his first film score for the National Film Board. At the invitation of Sir Ernest MacMillan, he joined the Royal Conservatory in 1939 as teacher of composition and orchestration, and accepted a professorship at the University of Toronto in 1952, where he developed the composition department. Among his many talented students were: Harry Somers, Harry Freedman, Murray Adaskin and Phil Nimmons (1940s); R. Murray Schafer, Norma Beecroft, Gustav Ciamaga and John Beckwith (1950s); Brian Cherney, Robert Aitken and John Rea (1960s); David Jaeger, Peter Paul Koprowski and Tomas Dusatko (1970s).

In 1951, along with several of his former students, Weinzweig founded the Canadian League of Composers and as its first President, he began a new career advocating on behalf of musical creators. For many years he served on the Board of the Composers, Authors and Publishers Association of Canada (CAPAC), including as its President (1973-75), and later on that of the amalgamated performing rights agency SOCAN. As well, he was co-planner of the Canadian Music Centre in 1959, and Chairman of the International Conference of Composers in 1960.

Interview: Oskar Morawetz and Timothy Findley Interview: John Weinzweig: barn dance Beckwith interviewing Sir Ernest MacMillan Interview: Robert Aitken with Norma Beecroft Helmut Blume with Schafer Interview: John Adaskin behind the scenes at the CMC

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This project was made possible through funding from the AV Preservation Trust and the Department of Canadian Heritage AV Trust Department of Canadian Heritage

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