Boris Hambourg

Cellist, administrator, b Voronezh, Russia, 27 Dec 1884 (Julian Calendar, 8 Jan 1885), naturalized Canadian 1910, d Toronto 24 Nov 1954. The family moved to England when he was five, and he had cello lessons in London from Herbert Walenn.

Boris Hambourg

Cellist, administrator, b Voronezh, Russia, 27 Dec 1884 (Julian Calendar, 8 Jan 1885), naturalized Canadian 1910, d Toronto 24 Nov 1954. The family moved to England when he was five, and he had cello lessons in London from Herbert Walenn. He studied 1898-1903 with Hugo Becker (cello) and Ivan Knorr (composition) at the Hoch Konservatorium in Frankfurt, and Eugène Ysaÿe coached him in chamber music at Godinne-sur-Meuse, Belgium. His 1903 debut, at Bad Pyrmont, Germany, was followed by appearances in Europe, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia, alone or with the Hambourg Trio (Mark, Jan, and Boris) or the Hambourg String Quartet (Jan, John Robinson, Eric Coates, and Boris).

After performances in the USA in 1910 Boris settled with the family in Toronto, where he helped establish the Hambourg Conservatory and the Hambourg Concert Society, which presented chamber music. He also taught at the conservatory, and his pupils included Marcus Adeney and Glen Morley. After his father, Michael's, death Boris directed the conservatory, with some assistance from Jan, until it closed in 1951. He continued to perform in Canada, the USA, and, almost annually, Europe and organized a succession of Hambourg Trios.

In 1923 Boris married Maria ('Borina') Bauchope (b Dunedin, New Zealand, d Toronto 1965), a pianist who had studied in London, who taught in Toronto, and whose keen social skills helped establish the Hambourg position in the arts community. That same year Boris became a founding member of the Hart House String Quartet and remained with it throughout its existence (1923-46). While on tour in England in 1934 he became the first Canadian instrumentalist to play on television (BBC). In 1945 he founded the Toronto Music Lovers' Club, which offered a series of concerts by the Pirani Trio, the de Kresz-Hambourg Trio, and the Pro Musica Trio, assisted on occasion by individual artists. Boris also gave cello recitals, often in cycles covering the repertoire from the renaissance to the present. He wrote cello pieces (including six Preludes and six Russian Dances), and songs, and with Alfred Moffat co-edited cello pieces by 18th-century Italian composers. He recorded as a soloist and as a member of the Hart House String Quartet. He was an active member of the Arts and Letters Club, Toronto. His main contribution to music was his activity in, and on behalf of, chamber music. New works and classics had first Toronto performances under his guidance, and he gave encouragement and opportunities to his own and a younger generation of musicians.

See also Clement Hambourg (his brother).


Further Reading

  • Brewester, Musiel. 'Hand of fate formed the Hart House Quartet,' Toronto Star Weekly, 29 Nov 1924

    Hausman, Ed. 'Who remembers 194 Wellesley,' Toronto Daily Star, 6 Jan 1968

    Adaskin, Harry. A Fiddler's World (Vancouver 1977)

    Koch, Eric. The brothers Hambourg (Toronto 1997)

    Metropolitan Toronto Library. Music division. Vertical files

    NL of C. Vertical files