T he Living Composers Project  

Weinzweig, John (b. March 11, 1913, Toronto, Ontario – d. August 24, 2006, Toronto, Ontario). Canadian composer of mostly stage, orchestral, chamber, choral, vocal, and piano works that have been performed throughout the world.

Prof. Weinzweig studied mandolin at the Workman's Circle Peretz School and began private piano studies at age fourteen. He studied at Harbord Collegiate Institute in the early 1930s and there played double bass, mandolin and sousaphone in the school orchestra. He then studied counterpoint and fugue with Healey Willan, harmony with Leo Smith and orchestration with Sir Ernest MacMillan at the University of Toronto from 1934–37, where he earned his BMus, and also had private conducting studies with Reginald Stewart during this time. He lastly studied composition with Bernard Rogers at the Eastman School of Music in 1937–38, where he earned his MMus. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa in 1969 and the Doctor of Laws honoris causa degree from the University of Toronto in 1982.

Among his many honors are the Silver Medal in chamber music at the Olympic Games (1948, for Divertimento No. 1), two Canada Council Senior Arts awards (1968, 1975) and the Victor M. Lynch-Staunton Award from the Canada Council for the Arts (1975). For his life accomplishments, he has received the Scroll of Honour from B'nai Israel Beth David Synagogue (1967), the Canadian Music Council Medal (1978), the Canada Council Molson Prize (1981), the Order of Ontario (1988), the Roy Thomson Hall Award (1991), and the Golden Jubilee Medal (2002). In addition, he was an Officer of the Order of Canada from 1974–2006, an honorary member of the Alberta Composers Association from 1977–2006, an honorary member of the American Harp Society from 1984–2006, and a life member of the Toronto Musicians Association from 1984–2006.

Prof. Weinzweig is also active in other positions. He founded the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1934 and served as its conductor from 1934–37. He co-founded with many colleagues and students the Canadian League of Composers in 1951 and served as its president from 1951–57 and from 1959–63 and served as its president emeritus from 1981–2006. He also helped to found the Canadian Music Centre in 1959 and served as president of the Composers, Authors and Publishers Association of Canada from 1973–75. His articles appear in the books John WeinzweigHis Words and His Music (1986, Poole Hall Press) and Sounds and Reflections (1990, Poole Hall Press) and he is the subject of the book John Weinzweig and His MusicThe Radical Romantic of Canada by Elaine Keillor (1994, The Scarecrow Press).

He taught composition, ear training, music theory, and orchestration at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto from 1939–43 and 1945–54. He worked as an instructor of the Royal Canadian Air Force Central Band from 1943–45. He then taught composition at the University of Toronto from 1952–78, where he was professor emeritus from 1978–2006.

In addition to the works listed below, Prof. Weinzweig composed hundreds of scores for film, radio, theatre, and TV productions.


E-mail address (c/o his son Daniel Weinzweig): daniel@searchlightcanada.com


STAGE: Red Ear of Corn (2 act ballet, choreography by Boris Volkoff), small orchestra, 1948–49; Around the Stage in 25 Minutes during which a variety of instruments are struck (music theatre work), moving percussion, 1970; Trialogue (music theatre work, text by the composer), soprano, flute, piano, 1971 (also version of one section, My Dear Etcetera, incorporated into Private Collection); Impromptus (music theatre work), piano, 1973; Prime-Time (music theatre work, text by the composer), soprano, baritone, flute, bass clarinet, 1991; Journey out of Night (music theatre work, text by the composer), mezzo-soprano, piano, 1994; Le rendez-vous (music theatre work, text by the composer), soprano, mezzo-soprano, baritone, piano, 1995; Parodies and Travesties (music theatre work, text by the composer), soprano, mezzo-soprano, piano, 1995; Walking-Talking (music theatre work, text by the composer), soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, piano, 1996

ORCHESTRAL: Rhapsody, 1941, revised 2003–04; Interlude in an Artist's Life, string orchestra, 1943; Our Canada (Music for Radio No. 1), 1943; Band-Hut Sketches, symphonic band, 1944; Divertimento No. 1, flute, string orchestra, 1945–46; Edge of the World (Music for Radio No. 2), 1946; Divertimento No. 2, oboe, string orchestra, 1948; Round Dance, symphonic band, 1950 (also version for orchestra, 1950); Concerto, violin, orchestra, 1951–54; Symphonic Ode, 1958; Divertimento No. 3, bassoon, string orchestra, 1960; Divertimento No. 5, trumpet (+ B-flat trumpet), trombone, symphonic band, 1961; Concerto, piano, orchestra, 1965–66; Concerto, harp, small orchestra, 1967; Divertimento No. 4, clarinet, string orchestra, 1968 (also version for clarinet, string quartet, double bass); DummiyahSilence, 1969; Divertimento No. 6, alto saxophone, string orchestra, 1972; Divertimento No. 7, French horn, string orchestra, 1979; Divertimento No. 8, tuba, orchestra, 1980; Out of the Blues, symphonic band, 1981; Divertimento No. 9, large orchestra, 1982; Divertimento No. 10, piano, string orchestra, 1988; Divertimento No. 11, English horn, string orchestra, 1989; Jammin', 1990; Divertimento No. 12, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, string orchestra, 1998

CHAMBER MUSIC: String Quartet No. 1, 1937; Sonata for Violin and Piano, 1941; Fanfare, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1943; Intermissions, flute, oboe, 1943; String Quartet No. 2, 1946; Israel (sonata), cello, piano, 1949; String Quartet No. 3, 1962; Woodwind Quintet, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, bassoon, 1963–64; Quartet, 3 clarinets, bass clarinet, 1965; Divertimento No. 4, clarinet, string quartet, double bass, 1968 (version of orchestral work); Riffs, flute, 1974; Contrasts, guitar, 1976; Pieces of Five, French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, 1976; Refrains, double bass, piano, 1977; 18 Pieces for Guitar, 1980; Variations (on the theme 'All's well that ends well'), French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, 1981; 15 Pieces for Harp, 1983; Conversations, 3 guitars, 1984; Cadenza, clarinet, 1986; Tango for Two, harp, 1986 (also version for piano); Birthday Notes, flute, piano, 1987; HitlahavuthDance of the Masada, violin, piano, 1987 (version of vocal work); Tremologue, viola, 1987; Riffs 2, trombone, 1991; Belaria, violin/viola/cello, 1992; Riffs 3, B-flat trumpet, 1992; Arctic Shadows, oboe, piano, 1993; Divertimento, French horn, piano, 1993; Swing out, bassoon, 1995; Interplay, piccolo, tuba, piano, 1998; Duo for Two Violins, 1999

CHORAL: To the Lands over Yonder (text from traditional Inuit sources), mixed chorus, 1945; Am Yisrael chai! – Israel Lives (text by Malka Lee), mixed chorus, piano, 1952; Hockey Night in Canada (text by the composer), mixed chorus, 1985; Lonesome Satellite (text by the composer), mixed chorus, 1985; Prisoner of Conscience (text by the composer), mixed chorus, 1985; Shoppin' Blues (text by the composer), mixed chorus, 1985; In the Arms of Morpheus (text by the composer), mixed chorus, 1986; On Wings of Song (text by the composer), mixed chorus, 1986; What's that? (text by the composer), mixed chorus, 1986

VOCAL: Of Time, Rain and the World (song-cycle, text by the composer), mezzo-soprano/baritone, piano, 1947; Hitlahavuth (text by Itzhak Lambden), baritone, piano, 1951 (also version for violin, piano); Wine of Peace (text by the composer, after Pedro Calderón de la Barca, an anonymous source), soprano, large orchestra, 1957; Private Collection (song-cycle, text by the composer), soprano, piano, 1975 (incorporates a version of My Dear Etcetera from Trialogue); Prologue to a Tango (text by the composer), mezzo-soprano, 4 violins, 2002

PIANO: Spasmodia, 1938; Suite No. 1, 1939; Melos, 1949; Swing a Fugue, 1949; Sonata, 1950; Suite No. 2, 1950; CanOn Stride, 1986; Tango for Two, 1986 (version of harp work); Micromotions, 1988; Three Pieces for Piano, 1989; Duologue, 2 pianos, 1990; Diversions, 1994; Netscapes, 2000; Seven Piano Duets, 2 pianos, 2000

ORGAN: Improvisation on an Indian Tune, 1942, revised 1980

(Last updated on May 6, 2007)

John Weinzweig, John Jacob Weinzweig, John J. Weinzweig, John Winzweig, John Winezweig, J.J. Weinzweig