Alfred Garson

Alfred (Henrik) Garson. Violinist, teacher, composer, author, b Berthier-en-Haut, (Berthierville), north-east of Montreal, 22 Oct 1924; B MUS (Cape Town) 1950, FTCL 1953, M MUS (Cape Town) 1954, PH D (Montreal) 1970. During his childhood he toured as a violinist in Europe and in South America.

Garson, Alfred

Alfred (Henrik) Garson. Violinist, teacher, composer, author, b Berthier-en-Haut, (Berthierville), north-east of Montreal, 22 Oct 1924; B MUS (Cape Town) 1950, FTCL 1953, M MUS (Cape Town) 1954, PH D (Montreal) 1970. During his childhood he toured as a violinist in Europe and in South America. Two scholarships, a Rhodes in 1945 and a Beit in 1947, enabled him to attend Cape Town U, where he studied with Albert Coates (conducting), Editha Braham (violin), and Lili Kraus (chamber music), among others; he also took courses in anthropology and African languages. He won the 1948 and 1950 South African Broadcasting Corporation composition prizes for, respectively, his Suite for orchestra and his Song and Dance for Orchestra, and he also won the Myer Levinssohn prize in 1949 for The Witch, a ballet for marionettes, narrator, and chamber orchestra. He was orchestrator and arranger 1949-55 for the Cape Town municipal orchestra.

Having settled in London in 1956, Garson studied composition with Matyas Seiber and musicology with Sir Jack Westrup. A Gabriel d'Honot scholarship in 1958 enabled him to pursue his research in medieval music and literature at the monastery of Montserrat in Spain.

Garson returned to Montreal in 1963 and became, in 1965, one of the first Canadian advocates of the Suzuki violin method. He studied 1965-72 with Shinichi Suzuki at the ESM, Rochester, NY, as well as in Montreal and in Japan. He was named director of the Suzuki program at McGill University in 1970 and has been a lecturer or visiting professor at several universities in Europe, Canada, and the USA, including the University of Wisconsin and Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY. He is the author of The Suzuki Teaching Method (Boosey & Hawkes 1971) and has written many articles on the subject for various periodicals, including the Canadian Music Educator (which he edited 1969-73), and has often spoken on radio and TV (CBC, NBC, BBC).

Garson's doctoral thesis was entitled From Creation to Appreciation : An Approach to the Appreciation of Contemporary Music by Young Children Through a Creative Method. He was president 1965-7 of the Éducateurs de musique du Québec (later the QMEA), and 1973-4 of the Canadian String Teachers Association, as well as a member of several associations.

Garson's compositions include several ballets (one in collaboration with the choreographer John Cranko); a Mass for four soloists, mixed choir, and orchestra (1950); chamber music, songs, film and stage music; and choral and instrumental works for children. In 1975 the South African Eisteddfod instituted the Alfred Garson scholarship.