Harold Sumberg | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Harold Sumberg

Sumberg, Harold. Violinist, teacher, conductor, adjudicator, b Rochester, NY, 25 Aug 1905, naturalized Canadian 1920s, d Toronto 6 Jan 1994.

Sumberg, Harold

Sumberg, Harold. Violinist, teacher, conductor, adjudicator, b Rochester, NY, 25 Aug 1905, naturalized Canadian 1920s, d Toronto 6 Jan 1994. After studies at the Dovercourt College of Music in Toronto, he studied violin 1922-7 in Berlin with Carl Markees and Henry Holst, and also with Willy Hess at the Hochschule für Musik. Sumberg taught 1927-56 at the TCM. He was a member 1929-45 of the Conservatory String Quartet, founded the Conservatory String Orchestra in 1941, and directed the Sumberg Studio String Orchestra, made up of his violin and viola pupils Nathan Green (Greenberg), Phyllis Gummer, Stephen Kondaks, Eveline Maguire, Samuel Margolian, Victor Zuchter, and others. Joining the TSO in 1928 he served 1931-57 as principal second violin. He was concertmaster 1934-40 for the Promenade Symphony Concerts, and also appeared as soloist and guest conductor. He was a member (1930s) of the New World Chamber Orchestra under Samuel Hersenhoren, and was concertmaster of the Toronto Chamber Music Society founded in 1932 and conducted by Albert Jordan. Sumberg appeared in concert throughout the 1930s with Alberto Guerrero and was a member in the late 1940s of the Sumberg-Ysselstyn-Guerrero Trio (later Sumberg Trio, with Cornelius Ysselstyn and Leo Barkin). He played often on radio and in 1945 became music director of the CBC radio's 'Intermezzo.' He also initiated the CBC series 'Symphony for Strings' (1946-8), on which he premiered Godfrey Ridout's Two Etudes (dedicated to him), Harry Somers' Scherzo and Slow Movement for Strings, and John Weinzweig's Divertimento No. 2, as well as works by Howard Cable, Robert Fleming, George Hurst, Barbara Pentland, and others. He organized in 1948 the 20-member Toronto Women's Orchestra, founded and conducted 1948-56 the Canadian Little Symphony, which performed throughout Ontario, and was principal second violin 1952-65 of Heinz Unger's York Concert Society and 1952-64 of the CBC Symphony Orchestra, with which he also appeared as soloist and guest conductor. In 1961 Sumberg returned to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (retiring in 1975). In 1963 he began teaching violin and viola at the YMHA Music School in Toronto (after 1979 the Koffler Centre of the Arts Music School), becoming its director in 1973. In 1967, he played for the recording of Duke Ellington North of the Border (ACDM 1425). Sumberg adjudicated at festivals throughout Canada including the Canadian Open Old Time Fiddlers' Contest 1955-84, and the CNE. In 1983 he was elected a life member of the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto. Sumberg was also a prize-winning photographer.


"Elie Spivak," Canadian Music Journal, Autumn 1960

Challenge yourself - take the CC Quiz!

The Canadian Encyclopedia is a project of Historica Canada, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization devoted to teaching Canadians more about our shared country.  We also produce the Heritage Minutes and other programs. If you believe all Canadians should have access to free, impartial, fact-checked, regularly updated information about Canada’s history and culture in both official languages, please consider donating today. All donations above $3 will receive a tax receipt.

Book a Speaker