Peter Koslowsky

Peter Koslowsky, tenor (born 15 may 1919 near Sargeov, Ukraine; died 13 October 1996).

Peter Koslowsky, tenor (born 15 may 1919 near Sargeov, Ukraine; died 13 October 1996). Peter Koslowsky was the first of a succession of outstanding singers who emerged from the Mennonite community into Manitoba's music scene in the 1950s. He sang on CBC Radio and with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

Early Years and Education

Koslowsky was brought to Canada in 1926 by his Mennonite parents, who settled on a farm near Niverville, south of Winnipeg. He became a naturalized Canadian in 1946. Although he studied music for two years at the Mennonite Brethren Bible College and voice privately with Winona Lightcap, Nina Dempsey and Gladys Whitehead (1953–58), his singing remained a highly developed hobby.

Career Highlights

However, Koslowsky's supple, easily produced lyric tenor made him the natural successor to George Kent as Winnipeg's foremost oratorio tenor in the 1950s and 1960s. He also sang the significant Lieder cycles of Schubert, Schumann and Beethoven (An die ferne Geliebte was a specialty), and gave memorable performances of Vaughan Williams' On Wenlock Edge, in public and on CBC Radio. With the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra he sang both the roles of the Evangelist and the reflective arias in the St Matthew Passion and the St John Passion.

He recorded as Gaspard Minard in The Widow and in recital (Schumann's Liederkreis, Berg's “Nachtigall,” and Schubert's “Der Wegweiser” and “Wohin”) with the pianist Ada Bronstein (1966, CBC SM-40). He still sang with the Eastview Mennonite Brethren Church in Winnipeg in the early 1990s and continued to operate the family farm into his retirement.

A version of this entry originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.