Canadian League of Composers

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The Canadian League of Composers is an organization formed in 1951 of Canadian composers primarily interested in raising awareness and acceptance of Canadian music. The activities of the League are overseen and directed by an executive and a National Council (a board of 12 elected members who aim to represent regions of Canada equally). The league is funded by the SOCAN Foundation, the annual dues of the members, and donations from the public.

Formation[edit]

In 1951, John Weinzweig met with fellow composers Harry Somers and Samuel Dolin to discuss the issue of composing professionally in Canada. They wished to raise awareness and acceptance of Canadian music, to be listened to and taken seriously. They contacted around a dozen other Canadian composers who shared their desires and within a year they had acquired a federal charter as the Canadian League of Composers (CLC), of which Weinzweig was the first president. Though the original members were all from close within Weinzweig’s circle, the idea of the CLC was to bring composers together to work for a common cause, not to achieve a uniform national style. This mindset was much like that of the Group of Seven 30 years earlier in Canadian art. After a decade, national membership had grown to around 40 people, including four women, and continued to grow steadily throughout the century.

Endeavors[edit]

The first project the League took on was to sponsor public concerts featuring new Canadian compositions. These concerts featured many different kinds of repertoire, including orchestral works, chamber music and opera, but they lacked the support of many established performing groups. Despite this, approximately 30 concerts of exclusively Canadian music occurred between the years of 1951 and 1960. The first concert, on May 16, 1951, had a program of entirely Weinzweig’s music. The concert was jointly held with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) of Toronto, and was given a favourable review by the art critic for The Globe and Mail.

They next took on the task of editing an anthology of newly composed piano repertoire. This resulted in the accumulation of a small library which housed the scores of many members, and provided the use of these scores to interested conductors and performers.

In 1960, the CLC organized the International Conference of Composers as part of the Stratford Music Festival. This conference drew composers from 30 different countries, including Krenek, Varèse and Berio.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Beckwith, John (1997). Music Papers: Articles and Talks by a Canadian Composer. Ottawa, Ontario: The Golden Dog Press.
  • Proctor, George A. (1951). Canadian Music of the Twentieth Century. Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press.