Donald Heins

Heins, (Francis) Donald (Donaldson). Violinist, violist, conductor, organist, composer, teacher, b Hereford, England, 19 Feb 1878, d Toronto 1 Jan 1949.

Heins, Donald

Heins, (Francis) Donald (Donaldson). Violinist, violist, conductor, organist, composer, teacher, b Hereford, England, 19 Feb 1878, d Toronto 1 Jan 1949. The grandson of a German-born piano maker, he studied 1892-7 at the Leipzig Cons with Gustav Schreck (harmony), Richard Hoffmann (orchestration), and Hans Sitt (violin), and continued his training in London with August Wilhemj, also playing in the first violins of orchestras conducted by Elgar, Parry, and others. Heins settled in Ottawa in 1902 and lived there until 1927, teaching at the Canadian Conservatory of Music (Ottawa) (established by his brother-in-law Harry Puddicombe) and founding, and directing 1903-27, that institution's orchestra, with which he presented the Ottawa premieres of symphonies by Mozart, Beethoven, Dvořák, Tchaikovsky, and others. In 1910 this orchestra became the Ottawa SO. Over a period of 23 years Heins was organist successively in three Presbyterian churches and for three years conducted the Royal Artillery Band of the 43rd Regiment. In 1918, assisted by 14 teachers whom he had trained, he set up a program for teaching violin in Ottawa public schools and then organized and conducted a student orchestra which performed approximately four times a year. Sometime after 1918 he studied with Leopold Auer in New York.

After moving to Toronto in 1927 Heins was concertmaster of the TSO until 1931, then principal violist until 1938. He remained a member of the viola section thereafter until his death and also was asst conductor 1931-42. He taught at the TCM (RCMT) 1927-48, was violist of the Conservatory String Quartet 1929-34, and conductor of the TCM SO 1930-4. Heins also was organist at St Mary the Virgin Anglican Church. He is supposed to have performed his Concertino in D Minor for violin and orchestra at the Chicago Musical College and to have played with the Chicago SO, but corroboration and dates have not been found.

Heins composed two short operettas for the CBC, An Old Tortugas (1936) and Yellow Back (1939), as well as several motets, various pieces for string instruments, and a Saint Ursula Mass for female choir and small orchestra. The Awakening, a symphonic poem, was performed in 1910 in Ottawa. His anthem 'Blest Are the Pure in Heart' (McKechnie Music Co 1913) is reprinted in CMH, vol 9.


Further Reading

  • 'Donald Heins of T.S.O., musician, 70, is dead,' Toronto Daily Star, 3 Jan 1949

    Catalogue of Canadian Composers

    Kallmann History of Music