Joseph Leopold Smith

Joseph Leopold Smith, Leo, composer, cellist, writer, teacher (b at Birmingham, Eng 26 Nov 1881; d at Toronto 18 Apr 1952).

Joseph Leopold Smith, Leo, composer, cellist, writer, teacher (b at Birmingham, Eng 26 Nov 1881; d at Toronto 18 Apr 1952). At a crucial period in Canada's musical development, Smith influenced many of the country's future leaders in performance, composition, writing and teaching. A child prodigy in England, he later played cello in the Halle and Covent Garden orchestras before coming to Canada in 1910. He joined the Toronto Symphony and was its principal cellist 1917-18 and 1932-40. Active in several different chamber groups, he also became very skilful on the viola da gamba, not only resurrecting the repertoire for this instrument, but including the viol family occasionally in his own works. He taught at the Toronto Conservatory from 1911 and was a professor of music at U of T 1938-50. Smith wrote 3 widely used textbooks: Musical Rudiments (1920), Music of the 17th and 18th Centuries (1931) and Elementary Part-Writing (1939). His compositions, sensitive impressionistic works, included Québec folk material, West Coast Indian songs and settings of verse by Canadian poets. A number of these have been published in the Canadian Musical Heritage series.