Dolores Claman

Dolores (Olga) Claman. Composer, pianist, b Vancouver 6 Jul 1927.

Claman, Dolores

Dolores (Olga) Claman. Composer, pianist, b Vancouver 6 Jul 1927. Claman, whose mother was an operetta singer, studied piano first in Vancouver, and music and drama at the University of Southern California, then, encouraged by the baritone Lawrence Tibbett (who heard some of her songs), attended the Juilliard School of Music on a fellowship. There her teachers were Rosina Lhévinne and Edward Steuermann (piano) and Vittorio Giannini and Bernard Wagenaar (composition). Among her first major compositions were the balletLe Rêve fantasque (1950) and the musical comedy Timber! (1952). The latter, written with lyricists Doug Nixon and David Savage, was produced in 1952 at Theatre Under the Stars. Excerpts were broadcast by the CBC that year and recorded for RCI (LP 119) in 1954.

In 1953 Claman went to London, where she composed music for the ITV network and collaborated on songs for the West End revues Airs on a Shoestring (1953), From Here to There (1955), Fresh Airs (1956), and Pieces of Eight (1957). In London in 1957 Claman met and married the writer Richard Morris (b London 13 Oct 1931, naturalized Canadian 1975), who wrote the lyrics for most of her subsequent work. They moved to Toronto in 1958 and soon became one of Canada's most successful jingle-writing teams. They completed some 3,000 jingles during the following 30 years and won more than 40 awards internationally. In the mid-1970s they began to divide their time between Europe (usually London and Spain) and Vancouver.

Claman and Morris wrote Mr Scrooge (1963, with Ted Wood), a musical based on Dickens's A Christmas Carol and produced at the Crest Theatre, Toronto, in 1963 and on CBC TV in 1964; and In the Klondike (1968, with Michael Leighton), a musical telecast 6 May 1968 by the CBC. They also contributed to Spring Thaw, and composed scores for feature films (eg, The Man Who Wanted to Live Forever, 1970, Captain Apache, 1972, plus various Spanish westerns), documentaries, and themes for CBC TV's Hockey Night in Canada and House of Pride, and other TV series. Claman and Morris wrote the score for the film A Place to Stand, made for the Ontario Pavilion at Expo 67; the film won a live action short subject Academy Award. The title song (Thompson 1967), known popularly as "Ontar-i-ar-i-ar-i-o," and the theme from Hockey Night in Canada are probably Claman's best-known works. Claman appeared on Hockey Night in Canada in 1998, and continues to assert her rights over the use of its theme. In 2010 The Hockey Theme was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Claman also wrote the theme song of the Canada Games, "Look Out World," in 1969. Among the Canadians with whom Claman worked are Jerry and Rudy Toth, with whom Claman and Morris formed Quartet Productions; the conductor Howard Cable; and the arranger Neil Chotem. Claman was a member of CAPAC.

Selected List of Compositions

Primitive Dance (1945), piano

Songs (texts by James Joyce)

Prelude (orchestra)

Le Rêve fantasque (ballet)

Timber! (musical)

Mr Scrooge (musical)

In the Klondike (musical) (to poems by Robert Service)

Further Reading

  • "Success in the Big Time," Canadian Composer, May 1965

    "New Canadian musical based on Robert Service's poetry," Canadian Composer, 19, Jun 1967

    Carroll, Joy. "Claman and Morris," Canadian Composer, 51, Jun 1970

    "Timber!," Encyclopedia of Music in Canada 1981

    "The diary of a song: 'Hockey Night in Canada', " Canadian Composer, Oct 1989

    Jones, Gaynor. "Claman, Dolores," Grove Music Online, ed. L Macy (Accessed 20 Jan 2006)