Sterling Beckwith | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Sterling Beckwith

(Robert) Sterling Beckwith. Musicologist, teacher, conductor, bass, b New York 14 Aug 1931; BA (Harvard) 1952, MA (Harvard) 1955, PH D (Cornell) 1969.

(Robert) Sterling Beckwith. Musicologist, teacher, conductor, bass, b New York 14 Aug 1931; BA (Harvard) 1952, MA (Harvard) 1955, PH D (Cornell) 1969. After studies 1952-4 in Europe, notably with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, he taught 1956-7 at the Juilliard School, 1959-62 at Emory U, and 1962-9 at the State U of New York, Buffalo. He then initiated in 1969 and directed until 1971 the program in music, Faculty of Fine Arts, York University, Toronto, and thereafter continued to teach conducting and the history and literature of music in its faculties of Arts and Fine Arts. He received grants from the Ford Foundation in 1962 and the British Council in 1971, and in 1963, on an Inter-University Committee on Travel Grants research fellowship, was the first North American exchange scholar to study at the Leningrad Cons. Another exchange grant enabled him to continue research 1989-90 at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow. Specializing in Russian music, he completed a doctoral dissertation titled 'Kastal'skii and the quest for a native Russian choral style,' and has edited the series Russia's Choral Heritage (MCA 1965-72). He also has edited many pieces by 15th- and 16th-century European composers and has written articles and reviews for Notes, the American Choral Review, and the Canada Music Book.

Beckwith served 1976-89 as Russian repertoire adviser and coach for the TS, Festival Singers, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and Chamber Players of Toronto. In 1987 he became an associate member of the Centre for Russian and East European Studies at the University of Toronto and in 1988 organized and directed the International Shostakovich Conference, a joint venture with the Centre and the COC held at York University.

Beckwith has also pursued studies in the use of electronics and computer devices in composition and music education. He designed and presented 1986-8 three symposiums and public expositions exploring new musical applications of computer technology at York University. He was host on the Ontario Education Communications Authority's Imagery of the New Medium: Sound in 1971, a TV series on electronic and experimental music. His 1975 study The Interactive Music Project at York University was issued by the Ontario Ministry of Education (Toronto 1975).

Beckwith has sung as bass soloist in choral, recital and operatic works with many groups including the Studio de musique ancienne de Montréal in its 1980 performance of Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine and in 1987 with the Toronto Chamber Orchestra in its performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. He studied conducting at the Salzburg Mozarteum and at the École Monteux in Hancock, Maine and has worked as musical consultant and conductor for TV programs.

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