Elyakim Taussig

Elyakim (Peter) Taussig. Pianist, teacher, composer, video producer, b Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, 27 Feb 1944, naturalized Israeli 1949, naturalized Canadian 1976; BA Islamic studies (Jerusalem) 1965, Artist Diploma (Toronto) 1969, M MUS (Toronto) 1970, diploma, TV production (Ryerson) 1982.

Taussig, Elyakim

Elyakim (Peter) Taussig. Pianist, teacher, composer, video producer, b Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, 27 Feb 1944, naturalized Israeli 1949, naturalized Canadian 1976; BA Islamic studies (Jerusalem) 1965, Artist Diploma (Toronto) 1969, M MUS (Toronto) 1970, diploma, TV production (Ryerson) 1982. Elyakim Taussig studied piano with Edith Kraus in Israel 1951-65 and with Anton Kuerti in Toronto 1968-70 and received the first M MUS in performance granted by the University of Toronto. He was an award winner at the 1970 Busoni Competition in Italy. He has performed in Europe, Israel, and Japan, and in Canada with the Toronto Symphony, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra (with whom he premiered Doug Riley'sConcerto 25 Apr 1982), and other orchestras. He played as a duo-pianist with his wife, Kathryn (Anne) Root - b Stratford, Ont, 5 Dec 1945; B MUS (Toronto) 1970, M MUS (Indiana) 1972, a pupil of Anton Kuerti and György Sebök. As well, Taussig performed with the innovative performance-art ensemble Camerata as a soloist and chamber musician 1972-9, and as its music director 1972-5. He was the music director 1973-5 at the Shaw Festival and the artistic director 1980-2 of Stratford Summer Music. The inaugural season of the latter (1981) included the premiere of Mary Lou Fallis's Primadonna and a recital by Elly Ameling, with Taussig as accompanist. In the early 1970s Taussig became known as a player of fluent technique and bold style. The critic John Kraglund (Toronto Globe and Mail, 27 Nov 1972) found his Beethoven and Schubert 'at times hard and scintillating, at others meltingly lyrical [though] often for the sake of contrast rather than for musical reasons.' Taussig taught 1972-3 at the University of Toronto, and 1988-91 taught video production and electronic music at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto.

Taussig's Compositions

Taussig's compositions and inter-disciplinary works, which date from the mid-1970s on, employ traditional instrumentation, as in Hantarish (1986) for two pianos, and Braithwaite's Original Brass Band (1989) commissioned by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and also mixed media and electroacoustic techniques, as in St. Goldberg of Bialistok Finds His Cross (1981) for voice, piano, strings and feedback, and Hollywood for orchestra, piano and video (presented by Orchestra London Canada in 1985). Beginning in the 1980s he prepared 17 videos, including his 1990 video opera Catatonics, and the documentary Elements: Air, Fire, Water, Earth (1986). Described by William Littler as a 'tireless innovator' (Toronto Star, 10 Mar 1981), Taussig also developed several theatre or cabaret concerts with which he toured in Canada and the USA, including Taussig and Enemies (1983) and My Friend Ludwig (1984). His My Memorial Service, purportedly created to mark the end of his career as a classical concert pianist, was premiered at the Music Gallery 25 Sep 1987 by Taussig with an actor, dancers, and videos.

Later Activities

In 1991, Taussig ceased all live performances. He lived at a spiritual retreat in Massachusetts 1991-5 before becoming the Royal Conservatory of Music's technology consultant in 1996. After being diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome that rendered him unable to play piano with his right hand, he recorded a pioneering version of Bach's Art of the Fugue, employing a Yamaha Disklavier grand piano. This concert-quality instrument allowed Taussig to record each fugue voice with his left hand and to perfect articulation and phrasing using a computer program. (His inspiration for this project was Glenn Gould's 1966 article in High Fidelity on the future of recorded music.) Taussig subsequently employed the same technique to record Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1.


Further Reading

  • Russom, Mark. "The Art of the Fugue," Performing Arts and Entertainment in Canada, autumn 2002

    Bloome, Larry. "Musical sculpting: The emergence of a new art form," Arts4All Newsletter, 16 Aug 1999 [www.arts4all.com]