Weldon Kilburn | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Weldon Kilburn

Weldon (Nicholas) Kilburn. Teacher, pianist, organist, coach, b Lloydminster, Alta, 9 Sep 1906, d Toronto 6 Mar 1986; ATCM 1925, LAB.

Kilburn, Weldon

Weldon (Nicholas) Kilburn. Teacher, pianist, organist, coach, b Lloydminster, Alta, 9 Sep 1906, d Toronto 6 Mar 1986; ATCM 1925, LAB. He studied piano, organ, cello, and voice in Edmonton before moving to Toronto in 1926; he then studied piano and organ at the TCM with Viggo Kihl, Norman Wilks, and Healey Willan while serving as organist-choirmaster at St Alban's Church and coaching singers. In 1930 he joined the TCM as a piano teacher and vocal coach. During the 1930s he gave recitals in Toronto. In 1936 he became the voice teacher and accompanist of Lois Marshall and continued in that capacity until 1971, also recording with her. During the early 1940s he took master classes with E. Robert Schmitz in Denver and San Francisco. Influenced by Schmitz's application of physiology to piano playing, he advocated major changes in the RCMT piano syllabus. In 1960, after an eight-month tour with Marshall in western Europe, the USSR, and Australia, he left the RCMT to establish his own studio. His voice pupils included Bob Bossin, Victor Braun, Constance Fisher, Glenn Gardiner, Marie-Lynn Hammond, Ilona Kombrink, Phyllis Mailing, Kathryn McBain Rose, Welford Russell, and Ben Steinberg; among his piano pupils were Norma Beecroft, Howard Cass, Samuel Dolin, John Fenwick, Stuart Hamilton, and Godfrey Ridout. Udo Kasemets described Kilburn as 'not only an expert accompanist but also possibly the greatest vocal pedagogue this country has produced' (Toronto Daily Star 30 Jan 1961). Kilburn's first wife, the mother of his four sons, including Nicholas, Michael, and Paul, was the pianist and teacher Marion Wibby (1907-68, LTCM 1930). Lois Marshall was his second wife, and Jean Clancy his third. In 1987 the Kilburn family established a scholarship in his memory at the RCMT for students excelling in piano accompanying.

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