Academy String Quartet

Academy String Quartet. Group associated with the Canadian Academy of Music, Toronto, and led by Luigi von Kunits. It performed at academy functions as early as 1912, and accompanied the academy's Madrigal Society in 1913. With Milton Blankstein (later Blackstone) as second violin, Alfred Bruce as viola, and George Bruce as cello, the quartet gave its inaugural series of three concerts during February and March 1914 at the academy recital hall. The ensemble gave between four and six concerts each season, often with guest pianists, including Walter Kirschbaum and Ernest MacMillan. As the personnel of the group changed, succeeding second violins were Arthur Ely 1914-18, Moses Garten 1918-19, Harry Adaskin 1919-21, and, again, Blackstone. Violist Frank Converse Smith succeeded Alfred Bruce 1922-3, and cellist Leo Smith replaced George Bruce 1916-18 while the latter was on military service.

The US composers Leo Ornstein and Amy Cheney Beach performed their works with the quartet, the former in 1916 and the latter in 1917 and 1918. Other programs offered works by Goossens, Vaughan Williams, Schoenberg (Opus 7, the Canadian premiere 31 May 1915), Beethoven (the late quartets), and von Kunits himself (February or March 1915). When the academy amalgamated with the TCM in 1924, the quartet ceased to exist. That same year von Kunits joined the Conservatory String Quartet, whose other members were Louis Gesensway (violin), Eugene Hudson (viola), and Leo Smith (cello). When Hudson and Gesensway left in 1927, the quartet disbanded. A second Conservatory String Quartet was formed in 1929 with different personnel.