Conservatory String Quartet
Conservatory String Quartet. Founded in 1929 at the Toronto Conservatory of Music (Royal Conservatory of Music) by Elie Spivak at the request of the conservatory's principal, Ernest MacMillan. The Conservatory String Quartet made its debut 26 Oct 1929 with MacMillan as pianist, beginning a series of six concerts with Alberto Guererro, Norah Drewett de Kresz, Florence Singer, and Viggo Kihl as assisting artists. It did not perform under its proper name until November 1930. The original members of the quartet were Spivak and Harold Sumberg (violins), Donald Heins (viola), and Leo Smith (cello). Heins was replaced in 1934 by Tom Brennand, who in turn was replaced in 1937 by Cecil Figelski. Smith left the quartet in 1942 and Zara Nelsova took his place. In 1944 Joyce Sands succeeded Nelsova and Harold Carter succeeded Figelski. In early 1946 the members of the quartet were Pearl Palmason (violinist, b Winnipeg 1915, d Toronto 17 Feb 2006), Goldie Bell, Carter, and Sands.
During its existence the quartet played regularly in Toronto, made an appearance during the 1942-3 season in Montreal, and toured in Ontario, appearing in Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Ottawa, Sarnia, and elsewhere. In addition to the standard quartet repertoire it presented the Franck Piano Quintet with Reginald Stewart (November 1932), and Vaughan Williams' On Wenlock Edge with Hubert Eisdell, tenor, and Ernest MacMillan, piano. It also made a point of performing works by Canadians - eg, Patricia Blomfield Holt, Walter MacNutt, John Weinzweig, and Leo Smith, whose Quartet in D it premiered 19 Jan 1932. The group gave concerts on the Hart House Viols in 1936. Though the quartet was heard over CBC radio, it made no recordings. In 1946 the quartet's members (all of whom were on staff at the conservatory) faced increased teaching demands which, combined with illness within the group, led to its disbandment.
The quartet is not to be confused with an earlier Conservatory String Quartette whose members included Bertha Drechsler Adamson.