Samuel Levitan | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Samuel Levitan

Samuel Levitan. Pianist, conductor, composer, teacher, b Buckingham, near Hull, Que, 24 Sep 1919, d Toronto 28 Mar 1984.

Levitan, Samuel

Samuel Levitan. Pianist, conductor, composer, teacher, b Buckingham, near Hull, Que, 24 Sep 1919, d Toronto 28 Mar 1984. His teachers included Paul de Marky (piano 1933-8), Claude Champagne (theory and composition, 1937-8 and 1940-3), James Friskin (piano, 1938-40 at the Juilliard School), Auguste Descarries (piano, 1943-6 at the CMM and 1946-50 privately), and Léon Barzin (conducting, 1943-6 at the CMM).

Levitan made his debut at Tudor Hall, Montreal, in 1936 and began performing on CBC radio in 1939. He was soloist with the MSO in 1949 and with 'The Little Symphonies' in 1954 and the CBC Symphony Orchestra in 1960. He toured in Canada as a partner to the violinist Arthur Garami and the cellist Walter Joachim in 1955 and to the violinist François D'Albert in 1956 and appeared in recital in Montreal and Toronto. He premiered Marvin Duchow'sPrelude (1947) and Sonata (1956), Ernest Bloch's Piano Sonata (1950, Canadian premiere), Alexander Brott'sVignettes en caricature (1956), Harry Somers'Sonata No. 3 (1958), and Samuel Dolin'sQueekhoven and A.J. (1976, commissioned for him by the OAC).

Levitan was a founder, in 1948, of the Jewish Music Forum in Montreal and was conductor 1945-7 of the YMHA Orchestra and 1964-7 of the annual Jewish Music Month concerts. He began teaching piano in 1940 and was an instructor 1955-63 at the McGill Cons. He taught at the RCMT from 1973 until his death.

Levitan's compositions include the ballet suite And Time Is the Master, premiered in 1955 on CBC TV under his direction, and Hebraic Miniatures for violin and piano, premiered in 1956 on the CBC by François D'Albert and the composer. Levitan's Four Poems by Carl Sandburg (1956) and Psalm 23 (1960) were premiered by his wife, the mezzo-soprano and pianist Fanny Gabinet (b Brussels 5 Jun 1928, d Toronto 16 Oct 2001).

Levitan contributed reviews to TheCanada Music Book.

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