John McKay | The Canadian Encyclopedia


John McKay

John (Robert) McKay. Pianist, teacher, b Montreal 11 Nov 1938, naturalized US 1985; B MUS (McGill) 1961, DMA (ESM, Rochester) 1978.

McKay, John

John (Robert) McKay. Pianist, teacher, b Montreal 11 Nov 1938, naturalized US 1985; B MUS (McGill) 1961, DMA (ESM, Rochester) 1978. John McKay studied as a youth with Lubka Kolessa in Montreal and 1961-5 with Bruno Seidlhofer in Vienna and Cologne and Stefan Askenase in Brussels, and won Quebec's Prix d'Europe in 1962. He taught 1969-72 at the University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatory of Music, and was head of the piano department 1972-4 at Dalhousie University as well as a member of NOVA Music. His doctoral thesis was on notational practices in piano works by 20th-century composers, including John Hawkins and Gilles Tremblay. He taught 1976-2004 at Gustavus Adolphus College in St Peter, Minn.

John McKay has given recital and broadcast performances in Canada, the USA, and Europe. He performed Brahms's complete works for solo piano in Toronto 1971-2, and the complete cycle of Beethoven piano sonatas in St Peter 1986-9. His programs have included works of several Canadian composers. In 1962 he premiered Clermont Pépin's Toccata No. 3. McKay's recordings include Harry Somers'Sonata No. 4 (1976, RCI 452) and the Bartók Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion (1976, Mus H Soc 3679), the latter with Joseph Werner and the percussionists John Beck and David Mancini. An experienced accompanist and chamber musician, his performances have included Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire (with his wife, contralto Sara Hayden); the complete chamber works of Brahms; and the complete violin sonatas of Beethoven, 1995. He co-founded the Minnesota Valley Sommarfest in 1989, and was a member of its resident trio. McKay has often performed solo recitals in the US Midwest and elsewhere, and has been heard with several Minnesota orchestras including the St. Paul Civic Orchestra, as well as with his former student Stephen Carlson in the McKay-Carlson Piano Duo. On 20 Sep 2008, McKay gave the world premiere of US composer Mortimer Barron's The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

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