Berthold Carrière

J. A. Berthold (Bert) Carrière, composer, conductor, teacher (born 27 February 1940 in Ottawa, ON), B MUS (Montreal) 1966, M MUS (Western) 1973. Berthold Carrière began piano studies at age 4, and played trombone at Ottawa Technical High School.

J. A. Berthold (Bert) Carrière, composer, conductor, teacher (born 27 February 1940 in Ottawa, ON), B MUS (Montreal) 1966, M MUS (Western) 1973. Berthold Carrière began piano studies at age 4, and played trombone at Ottawa Technical High School. At the Université de Montréal 1963-6 he studied under Jean Papineau-Couture, Jean Vallerand, Gabriel Cusson, and Clément Morin. His early work experience included arranging and conducting music for CBC radio and television 1960-3 and 1966-8, teaching at schools 1965-8 in the Ottawa area, and, for Ottawa's Orpheus Operatic Society, directing several shows 1965-9. In 1967 he conducted for Dominion Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II.

Berthold Carrière was music director at the Banff School of Fine Arts 1968-72, and studied composition 1971-3 at the University of Western Ontario with Arsenio Giron and Philip Downs. Following graduation, he was music director for Theatre London 1972-4 and 1976-7, including for the play The Donnellys: A Drama with Music (1974), and for the Ottawa Little Theatre in 1974. His involvement with the Stratford Festival as conductor began in 1973; he began composing there in 1974 for Ready Steady Go. Carrière was then recruited by Robin Phillips and became the Festival's music director 1976-83 and 1985-2007.

The Stratford Years and More

Berthold Carrière composed and arranged music for over 80 Stratford Festival productions, among the earliest of which were incidental scores for The Comedy of Errors (1975); Hamlet (1976); and The Tempest (1976). In the 1980s the Festival returned to the production of musical theatre, and Carrière's responsibilities expanded. He began auditioning singers, reviewing music projects, and working with choreographers such as Brian Macdonald, Michael Lichtefeld, and Donna Feore. He conducted, among others, H.M.S. Pinafore (1981); The Gondoliers (1983); The Mikado (1983); and Iolanthe (1988). The first two were released on video, while the third was aired on A&E in the US in 1986. These works were substantially re-orchestrated by Carrière, drawing criticism from Gilbert and Sullivan purists who felt his changes diminished the scores. Nonetheless, Carrière led The Mikado on tour to Broadway and The Old Vic in 1987, while his re-orchestrated version of The Gondoliers was performed in Sydney, Australia in 1989.

Carrière also composed the music for Timothy Findley's play John A.- Himself! (1979) and the TV movie Little Gloria... Happy at Last (1982); and TV Ontario's Canadian Literature Series theme (1985). In 1993 he wrote a set of songs for Gerald Isaac, which were recorded on the Attic CD Sweet Airs that Give Delight.

In 1998, Berthold Carrière took productions of Much Ado About Nothing and The Miser to the New York City Centre. He wrote music for The Tempest and Twelfth Night for CBC Radio in 1999, and King Lear in 2004, the latter being presented by the Lincoln Centre on Broadway. He also conducted The Sound of Music (2001); Hello Dolly (2006); Oliver (2006); and Oklahoma! (2007). In 2002 his music was featured at the Stratford Festival in performances by Canadian Brass, the St. Mary's Children's Choir, and the Festival Youth Singers. He was also commissioned by the Festival to write Music for a Midsummer's Night (2003), which has become an annual event, played on the opening night of the Festival. Despite resigning as Festival music director in 2007, Carrière has maintained close ties with Stratford, returning to conduct The Music Man in 2008 to great acclamation.


Berthold Carrière was awarded a Special Tribute Guthrie Award in 1975; two Doras (for The Boyfriend, 1981 and The Mikado, 1987); and the University of Western Ontario's Alumni Professional Achievement Award (2000). In 2001 he was named a member of the Order of Canada, and he was given the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003.

Further Reading

  • Timmerman, Nicola. "Stratford's Berthold Carrière: A musical director with panache," Canadian Composer, 134, Oct 1978

    Littler, William. "Berthold Carrière, measure for measure," Toronto Star, 20 Jul 2002

    Teahen, Kelley. "You're the top: You're our music maestro...," Fanfares, Spring 2004