Parlow String Quartet

Parlow String Quartet. Founded by Kathleen Parlow shortly after her return to Canada in August 1941 to take up a teaching post at the TCM. As early as 19 Jan 1941, in a letter to Sir Ernest MacMillan, she had expressed her wish to form a quartet.

Parlow String Quartet

Parlow String Quartet. Founded by Kathleen Parlow shortly after her return to Canada in August 1941 to take up a teaching post at the TCM. As early as 19 Jan 1941, in a letter to Sir Ernest MacMillan, she had expressed her wish to form a quartet. Her brainchild gave its first CBC recital 11 Apr 1943, and its first public concert 1 May 1943 at Eaton Auditorium. The quartet performed regularly until 1958. The original players were Parlow and Samuel Hersenhoren, violins; John Dembeck, viola (see Dembeck String Quartet); and Isaac Mamott, cello. Andrew Benac replaced Hersenhoren in 1951. Violas after Dembeck were Robert Warburton in 1945, Michael Barten in 1946, and Stanley Solomon 1946-58. Cornelius Ysselstyn replaced Mamott 1948-9 and Ysselstyn and Rowland Pack substituted for Mamott on other individual occasions.

Besides performing often on CBC radio, the quartet gave many concerts in Toronto, toured Ontario frequently and Western Canada in 1945, and played occasionally in Quebec and the Maritimes. Its repertoire, in addition to the standard quartets, included those of Bartók, Bridge, Britten, Dohnányi, Fauré, Glinka, Jongen, Kreisler, Turina, and Wolf. Among Canadian works, the quartet premiered James Gayfer's String Quartet (1944), Weinzweig's String Quartet No. 2 (1947), and Morawetz' String Quartet No. 2 (1956). It also performed Pépin's String Quartet No. 1 and Freedman's Five Pieces for String Quartet.

The famous name of its leader ensured the Parlow String Quartet's status as Canada's best-known ensemble of the kind during its 15 years before the public. With the Dembeck and McGill quartets it perpetuated quartet-playing with dignity and style in the period between the demise of the Hart House String Quartet and the advent of the Orford String Quartet.

After a concert at the RCMT, the Toronto critic John Kraglund described the quartet: 'Miss Parlow is at her best when given an opportunity for robust expression, and Mr. Mamott is... the most reliable member under any circumstances. Andrew Benac, second violin, and Stanley Solomon, viola, are quick to follow the lead of the other two' (Globe and Mail, 21 Jan 1957).

A scrapbook pertaining to the activities of the Parlow String Quartet up to 1951 is included among the Hersenhoren papers at the National Library of Canada.