Agnes Butcher

Agnes Butcher. Pianist, teacher, b Edmonton 11 Apr 1915; ATCM piano1930, LTCM piano 1936. She began piano studies in Brockville, Ont in 1920, moved to Hamilton in 1924 and studied with W.H. Hewlett, then continued in Toronto in 1934 with Viggo Kihl and Charles Peaker.

Butcher, Agnes

Agnes Butcher. Pianist, teacher, b Edmonton 11 Apr 1915; ATCM piano1930, LTCM piano 1936. She began piano studies in Brockville, Ont in 1920, moved to Hamilton in 1924 and studied with W.H. Hewlett, then continued in Toronto in 1934 with Viggo Kihl and Charles Peaker. In 1932 she began teaching at the Hamilton Cons (RHCM). She made her professional debut in 1935 in a performance of Saint-Saëns' Concerto No. 2 at Toronto's Massey Hall. The following year she won both the Eaton Scholarship and the Dominion Gold Medal of the TCM. From 1938 to 1940 she lived in Hungary, where she studied with Bartók, assisting him as copyist and English translator at the same time. While there she also appeared in recitals and broadcast performances under the supervision of Dohnányi, who was director of Hungarian radio. After her return to North America in 1940 she performed throughout Canada and in the USA, actively promoting the music of Bartók, and was on the teaching staff at the TCM. In August 1944 she premiered Healey Willan'sConcerto in C Minor (a work dedicated to her) in a broadcast performance from CBC Montreal with an orchestra under Jean-Marie Beaudet. (The same performers later recorded it for release on the CBC IS Canadian Album No. 1/RCA DM-1229.) Butcher gave the first public performance of the work in November 1944 with the TSO under Mazzoleni. She returned to Europe for concert tours in 1949 and 1950, and appeared as soloist with the Hamilton Philharmonic in 1953. In 1968 she went to Malta, and spent most of the 1970s in France, Spain, Italy, and England, but she returned in 1980 to Canada. She gave her last public recital in 1984 (by which time she had changed her surname to Boucher) at the RCMT, playing works by Beethoven, Schumann, Bartók, and Rachmaninoff.

In 1987 Boucher gave a collection of over 200 piano scores, including a manuscript of Willan's Concerto, to McMaster University. In 1987 she departed for Canterbury, England, to complete a book on Bartók, among other projects.