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Interview: John Adaskin behind the scenes at the CMC

Interview: John Adaskin behind the scenes at the CMC


This interview, featured on CBC Radio's "Music, Musicians and Personalities", featured John Adaskin the Executive Secretary of The Canadian Music Centre. Adaskin would have been a familiar personality to CBC listeners given his tireless work within the classical music community. The interview focuses on the situation for Canadian classical composers at the time and provides an interesting context for both the current work of the CMC in promoting and preserving Canada's concert music heritage and the ongoing struggle of composers to earn a living from their work.


John Adaskin, born in Toronto in 1908, was a conductor, radio producer, administrator, and cellist. The younger brother of Harry and Murray Adaskin, he studied 1924-9 at the Hambourg Conservatory with George Bruce and Boris Hambourg (cello) and 1930-3 at the Toronto Conservatory of Music with Leo Smith (cello and theory) and Luigi von Kunits (conducting). He played cello 1926-35 in broadcasting orchestras and 1926-38 in the TSO and was a producer 1934-43 for the CRBC and its successor, the CBC.

As head of John Adaskin Productions (1943-61) he continued to produce CBC programs, including the popular series 'Singing Stars of Tomorrow' and 'Opportunity Knocks'. On behalf of the CBC he commissioned Britten's The Young Apollo (1939) and Willan's Transit through Fire (1942) as well as over 101 short compositions by 67 Canadians (1950-57) for 'Opportunity Knocks'. For a brief period (ca 1950) he organized and taught courses in radio and TV production at Toronto's Ryerson Polytechnical Institute. In 1961 he became the Executive Secretary of the Canadian Music Centre, an office he held until his sudden death. A tireless promoter of Canadian music, he developed the centre's library, edited the magazine Music Across Canada and commissioned several composers to write works for school use. The John Adaskin Project continues his work in promoting Canadian educational composition.

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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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