Adaskin, Murray

views updated


ADASKIN, MURRAY (1905–2002), Canadian violinist, conductor, composer, teacher. Adaskin was born in Toronto of Russian immigrant parents. He studied music in Toronto and while still in his teens became a violinist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (1923–36). He played with the Banff Springs Trio (1932–41) and Toronto Trio (1938–52). Adaskin was a major figure in the decentralization of Canadian concert music. From the 1930s to 1950s, he toured the country with his wife, Frances James, Canada's leading soprano, and both were pioneers in disseminating contemporary music by radio broadcasting.

After studying composition with John Weinzweig (1944) and, in Santa Barbara and Aspen with Charles Jones (1949–51) and Darius Milhaud (1949–53), Adaskin was appointed to the University of Saskatchewan (1952–72). There he served as head of music and composer-in-residence and conducted the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (sso). In 1973, he moved to Victoria, where he continued to compose and teach violin and composition.

A leader in postwar cultural nationalism, Adaskin insisted that the sso commission Canadian works annually and based many of his own pieces on Canada's landscape and early history as well as its First Nations' traditions. A conservative modernist, Adaskin's neo-classic works also include music on Jewish themes. His T'filat Shalom (1973) was commissioned by the father of Adaskin's violin student Jeff Krolik who premiered the piece in Jerusalem.

A founding member of the Canadian League of Composers, Adaskin served on the Canada Council (1966–69) and was named an Officer of the Order of Canada (1980).


G. Lazarevich, The Musical World of Frances James and Murray Adaskin (1988).

[Jay Rahn (2nd ed.)]