Agnes Grossmann. Orchestral and choral conductor, pianist, b Vienna, 24 April 1944; piano performance diploma (Vienna Academy) 1968, honorary D HUM L (Mount St Vincent) 1991, honorary D Univ (Ottawa) 2004. Agnes Grossmann's father, Ferdinand Grossmann, a well-known Austrian conductor, gave her her first piano lessons. Later on, she worked with Bruno Seidlhofer at the Vienna State Academy of Music, and with Pierre Sancan at the Paris Conservatory, thanks to a scholarship from the Austrian government. In 1969, she embarked on a solo performing career in Europe and in Japan. In 1972, she won the Mozart interpretation prize in Vienna and set out on a tour of Canada and the USA. That same year, a right-hand injury forced her to cancel all her engagements. She then studied (1974- 8) choral and orchestral conducting with Karl Österreicher and Günther Theuring at the Vienna State Academy, becoming assistant conductor of the Vienna Jeunesses Choir and a professor at the State Music Academy in 1979.
Grossmann came to Canada in 1981 as guest professor at the University of Ottawa, where she conducted the choir and orchestra, and set up an ear training program. She was artistic director of the Wiener Singakademie Choir in Vienna (1983-6) and of the Chamber Players of Toronto (1984-90), with which she toured Europe (Berlin, Prague, Vienna and other cities) in 1990. From 1986 to 1995, she was artistic director of the Orchestre métropolitain de Montréal and choir, which she founded in 1987. She was also artistic director of the Orford Arts Centre (1989-95, 1999-2004); principal guest conductor of Edmonton's Pro Coro Canada (1995-97); and artistic director of the Vienna Boys' Choir (1996-98) at the time of that institution's 500th anniversary. This event was celebrated with a concert with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and Chorus Viennensis in the Musikvereinsaal in Vienna. Grossmann also took the Vienna Boys' Choir on a tour of North America. Before she relinquished her position as artistic director after differences with the board of directors on financing and goals, she introduced widespread educational reforms that included the acceptance of girls in the kindergarten of the choir school, and launched the Children's Opera Series of the Vienna State Opera.
Additional Canadian Conducting Positions
In Canada, in addition to the Chamber Players of Toronto, Agnes Grossmann has conducted the Toronto Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic, the Vancouver Symphony, the Canadian Chamber Ensemble, and the Jeunesses Musicales World Youth Orchestra. She has also been on the podium of the Vienna Chamber Orchestra and the Mozarteum Orchestra of Salzburg, as well as the Arcadia Orchestra and Choir in Osaka, Japan; the Tokyo New City Orchestra; and the Contemporary Chamber Orchestra and Choir of Taipei.
In 2001, she founded Ensemble Montreal, whose debut performance of Haydn's Creation, marking the Orford Arts Centre's 50th jubilee, was nominated for a Prix Opus of the Quebec Music Council. In 2003, she conducted Haydn's Seasons and Stabat Mater with Ensemble Montreal for the CBC.
Agnes Grossmann married conductor Raffi Armenian in 1984.
In 1987, she was named Woman of the Year, in the arts category, at the Salon de la femme in Montreal. She has also been awarded the Silver Cross for outstanding achievement in the arts from the Austrian government in 1992, and the Golden Cross of the City of Vienna in 1995. In 2003, she received the Chevalier de la Pléiade award from the Quebec government.