George J. Dyke

George J. (John) Dyke. Violinist, conductor, teacher, impresario, critic, b St Blazey, Cornwall, England, 23 Mar 1864, d Victoria, BC, 16 Mar 1940. He studied in St Austell and in Plymouth with John Parde (violin) and W. Willoughby (organ).

Dyke, George J.

George J. (John) Dyke. Violinist, conductor, teacher, impresario, critic, b St Blazey, Cornwall, England, 23 Mar 1864, d Victoria, BC, 16 Mar 1940. He studied in St Austell and in Plymouth with John Parde (violin) and W. Willoughby (organ). With his brother (Frederick William, cellist, organist, choirmaster, b St Blazey 15 Mar 1865, d Victoria 11 Jul 1928) he emigrated to Canada in 1886. After ranching near Moose Mountain, NWT (now southeast Saskatchewan), and editing the Moosomin Courier, he followed his brother to Vancouver in 1888. The brothers, with F.J. Painton, opened the first music shop in Vancouver, the short-lived Painton and Dyke. Several years later the brothers established a second firm, Dyke and Evans, which was operated by Fred until 1910. (It became the J.W. Kelly Piano Co in 1925.) George was also co-founder (1890s) of a violin academy which was Vancouver's first music school and a forerunner of the Vancouver Cons. In connection with the academy, the brothers (who had played in a string quartet as early as 1888) formed a trio with the pianist Francis Tuck. They also were members of a quartet with the violinist Robert Marshall and the violist J. Wyatt. George formed the Dyke Orchestra, which gave promenade concerts, served for four years as the orchestra at the Vancouver Opera House, and accompanied the Emma Juch English Opera at the opening of the CPR's Vancouver Opera House. He also played in Bishop Sillitoe's New Westminster orchestra and in the bishop's oratorio and chamber music presentations. In Vancouver Dyke was the founder of a 20-member mandolin and guitar club, the choirmaster at the Reformed Episcopal and Knox Presbyterian churches, the conductor of the 'Songs of Nations' choral concerts in Stanley Park, a participant with Carr Walton in operettas of the day (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and The Charming Princess), a judge at band competitions, a representative of the TCL, a music critic under the pen name 'Gamba' for the Vancouver World, the composer of an evening service, three hymns, and Six Petites Pièces (violin and piano), and the promoter of many concerts by Canadian and foreign performers, including the Mendelssohn Quintette, the pianist Harold Bauer, the violinist Leonora Jackson, the cellist Anton Hekking, the singer Edith Miller, and the Channing Ellery bands. In 1913 George Dyke moved to Victoria. Though by profession a broker, he continued to organize concerts by Mark Hambourg, Mischa Elman, Leopold Godowsky, Kathleen Parlow, and the Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Vancouver, and Seattle orchestras, among others. To stimulate recruiting during World War I he initiated and managed Sunday evening band concerts under the bandmaster James M. Miller. In 1919 he became the music critic for the Victoria Times and in his writings encouraged the festival movement on Vancouver Island. He also began violin classes in the public schools and organized the George J. Dyke String Orchestra. His brother Fred conducted the Vancouver Choral and Orchestral Society, trained the Vancouver choir for the Cycle of Musical Festivals in 1903, directed the cantata The Haymakers and the operetta Patience (the latter with the young Louise Edvina), and served as organist-choirmaster in a succession of Vancouver churches. Fred succeeded George Hicks as supervisor of music 1919-28 in the city's schools.


Further Reading

  • Kaye. 'Celebrates half century serving music,' Vancouver Daily Province, 6 Feb 1937