How do you celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of a composer?
The obvious answer is with a concert, or even two, both of them freebies. And why not commission a new work in his name while you’re at it? You can also mount a symposium of scholarly papers, create a website in his name to perpetuate his legacy, and even have the historical society put a commemorative plaque on the building where he grew up.
John Weinzweig (1913–2006), the recipient of these tributes, is not just any composer. There are three words that everyone who knew him uses to describe the Weinzweig legacy: composer, teacher and activist. These are not separate threads. Rather, they are woven together into a single tapestry. The man and his music in all its guises are inseparable.
He was a force of nature. In terms of composition, Weinzweig was a true pioneer, a voyageur of art who introduced 12-tone serialism to Canada, and with it, the aesthetic of New Music. As a teacher, first at the Royal Conservatory, then at the University of Toronto (1939–77), he is the acknowledged doyen of Canadian concert composers whose legion of devoted former students literally spans the country from sea to sea.