Alexander Brott this week. In observance of Canada Day and Canada’s 150th, I thought I would chip in to the festivities and offer one of Canada’s most highly regarded composer/conductor/violinist/Teachers. Alexander Brott had been an integral part of Canadian Musical life for several decades, starting in 1930 as a member of the Montreal Symphony as well as being a member of The Montreal Trio, frequently performing on the CBC Radio network. As soloist, he played with most of the Canadian as well as American symphony orchestras before and during the War. Simultaneously, he was very much engaged in composing and one of his first compositions, Two Symphonic Movements in 1938 won the coveted Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Prize for Orchestral Composition.
In 1939 he began his teaching career at McGill University while also founding the legendary McGill String Quartet. And in 1940 he began his conducting career. I think it’s safe to assume he was a triple-threat, just from the sheer amount of his musical activities. His catalog of compositions was very large and runs the gamut in musical styles. In 1945 he founded The McGill Chamber Orchestra, who is heard on this post, led by the Composer.
After the War he embarked on several tours of war-torn Europe as performer and conductor with several of the European Radio Orchestras, as well as premiering a number of Canadian works. In the 1950s he sustained a hand injury which forced him to curtail his career as a violinist, but it only served to increase his work as Conductor.
He remained active all the way to 2000, when he turned over running the McGill Chamber Orchestra to his son, Denis. Alexander Brott passed away on April 1, 2005 – leaving behind a rich legacy and a treasure trove of recordings.
Three Astral Visions comes from 1959 and this performance for the CBC comes from 1973 (according to the Canadian Encyclopedia).
Enjoy and Happy Canada Day!