Brott, Alexander prominent Canadian conductor, violinist, teacher, and composer, father of Boris and Denis Brott; b. Montreal, March 14, 1915. Following violin lessons with Alfred De Sève, he studied with Maurice Onderet (violin) and Douglas Clarke (composition) at the McGill Cons. (Licentiate in Music, 1932) in Montreal; subsequently pursued training with Jacobsen (violin), Willeke (chamber music), Wagenaar (composition), and Stoessel (conducting) at the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y. (1934–39). He was a violinist in the Montreal Orch. (1930-34; 1939-1); then was concert-master (1945^8) and asst. conductor (intermittently 1948-61) of the Montreal Sym. Orch. From 1939 to 1985 he was on the faculty of McGill Univ. In 1939 he founded the McGill String Quartet and in 1945 the McGill Chamber Orch. He appeared as a guest conductor throughout North America and Europe. From 1965 to 1981 he was artistic director of the Kingston (Ontario) Sym. In 1985 he founded the Montreal Young Virtuosi. In 1979 he was made a member of the Order of Canada, and in 1987 Chevalier de l’Ordre national du Québec. In his music he follows the Romantic tradition, with impressionistic harmonies imparting an aura of modernity.
DRAMATIC: Ballet: Le Corriveau (1966). orch.:Oracle (1938); War and Peace (1944); Concordia (1946); From Sea to Sea, suite (1947); Concerto for Violin and Chamber Orch. (Montreal, March 7, 1950); Delightful Delusions (1950); Prelude to Oblivion for Chamber Orch. (1951); Fancy and Folly (1953); Scherzo (1954); Analogy in Anagram (1955); Arabesque for Cello and Chamber Orch. (1957); 3 Astral Visions for Strings (1959); Spheres in Orbit (1960); Martlet’s Muse (1962); Circle, Triangle, 4 Squares for Strings (1963); Profundium Praedictum for Double Bass or Viola or Cello, and String Orch. (1964); Paraphrase in Polyphony, variants based on a recently unearthed 10-bar canon written by Beethoven in 1825 (Montreal, Nov. 3, 1967); The Young Prometheus, 12 preludes and fugues based on Beethoven sketches (1969); The Emperor’s New Clothes for Narrator and Orch. (Kingston, Ontario, Feb. 21, 1971); Cupid’s Quandary, violin concerto (1975); Evocative Provocations, cello concerto (1975); Hymn II Her for Flute, Bassoon, and Strings (1977); My Mother—My Memorial (1978); Curioso Furioso for Strings (1982); Trivial Trifles for Strings (1984). chamber: Quintet for Recorder and String Quartet (1940); String Quartet (1941); Critic’s Corner for String Quartet and Percussion (1950); 5 Miniatures for 8 Players (1950); Vignettes en caricature for Piano (1952); Sept for 7 for Narrator, String Trio, Clarinet, Saxophone, and Piano (1955); 3 Acts for 4 Sinners for Saxophone Quartet (1961); Mutual Salvation Orgy for Brass Quintet (1962); Berceuse for Saxophone Quartet (1962); 3 on a Spree for Flute, Oboe, and Harp (1963); Mini-Minus for Clarinet, Bassoon, Trumpet, Trombone, Violin, Double Bass, and Percussion (1968); Spasms for 6 for 6 Percussionists (1971); Saties-Faction for String Quartet (1972); Shofar for Cello (1976); Double Entente for String Quartet (1976); Prisms for Flute and Guitar (1984). vocal:Israel for Chorus and Orch. (1956); The Vision of Dry Bones for Baritone, Piano, and Strings (1958); World Sophisticate for Soprano, Brass Quintet, and Percussion (1962); Centennial Celebration for Narrator, Women’s Chorus, and Strings (1967).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire