Ettore Mazzoleni | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Ettore Mazzoleni

Ettore Mazzoleni.

Mazzoleni, Ettore

Ettore Mazzoleni. Conductor, teacher, administrator, b Brusio, Ticino, Switzerland, of Swiss-Italian parentage, 18 Jun 1905, naturalized Canadian 1949, d Oak Ridges, near Toronto, in a traffic accident 1 Jun 1968; BA (Oxford) 1927, B MUS (Oxford) 1927, honorary D MUS (Rochester) 1949, honorary FRCM 1961. Taken as a child to England, he studied mathematics and later music at Oxford University and piano at the RCM. Two years, 1927-9, on the opera staff at the RCM brought him into contact with Sir Adrian Boult and Ralph Vaughan Williams, and when he moved to Toronto in 1929 as a music master at Upper Canada College he became involved immediately in the preparation of the TCM Opera's production of Vaughan Williams' Hugh the Drover. Remaining at Upper Canada College until 1945, latterly as an English instructor, Mazzoleni succeeded Donald Heins as conductor of the TCM SO in 1934. He became the program annotator of the TSO in 1932 and served the orchestra 1942-8 as associate conductor. In 1932 he began to teach music history and conducting and to examine for the TCM. He was appointed principal when the conservatory was reorganized in 1945. A further controversial reorganization of the conservatory - by then renamed the Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto - left Mazzoleni still the principal and also director 1952-66 of the Royal Cons Opera School (University of Toronto Opera division). He was appointed artistic director 1953, managing director 1954 and was general director 1955-6 of the opera school's offspring, the Opera Festival of Toronto (later the COC) and conducted the COC productions of Die Fledermaus (1957, 1964), The Tales of Hoffmann (1958), The Barber of Seville (1959), A Night in Venice (1960), The Bartered Bride (1961), Hansel and Gretel (1962, 1963), and Deirdre (1966). He appeared as a guest conductor with the CBC Symphony Orchestra, the Halifax Symphony Orchestra, the Hart House Orchestra, the MSO, the Pro Arte Orchestra, the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and the Victoria Symphony Orchestra and conducted often for CBC radio, notably in a 1942 series with two harpsichordists (Greta Kraus and Arnold Walter) and string orchestra, broadcast from Upper Canada College, and in various programs for "CBC Wednesday Night," including the North American premiere (1954) of Arthur Benjamin'sA Tale of Two Cities.

Mazzoleni conducted the premieres of Willan's Transit through Fire and Deirdre and the CLComp's first concert, 16 May 1951, a Weinzweig program. With the TCM SO Mazzoleni introduced to Canada works by Howard Hanson, Holst, Vaughan Williams, George Butterworth, and others. For the CBC he conducted the TV premiere, 13 Jan 1959, of Britten's Peter Grimes. Among his pupils at the TCM were Louis Applebaum, Howard Cable, Victor Feldbrill, Robert Fleming, George Hurst, Franz Kraemer, and Godfrey Ridout. Mazzoleni was the author of several transcriptions for orchestra, including Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor and the Handel and Bononcini overtures to Muzio Scevola. His first wife, the pianist Winifred Mazzoleni, was the sister of Sir Ernest MacMillan. His second wife, (Edith) Joanne Ivey (b London, Ont, 27 Oct 1923), a mezzo-soprano and gifted comic, studied with Helen Simmie and Emmy Heim and at the Royal Cons Opera School and later in New York and Florence, making her debut in 1951 with the RCMT Opera as Dame Marthe in Faust. She remained with the company until 1962, singing Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus (1955) and Carmen in 1956. She also appeared in concert and oratorio.

In 1986 the library at the national headquarters of the Canadian Music Centre was named the Ettore Mazzoleni Library in his honour.


"Wartime overture,"Curtain Call, vol 11, Sep-Oct 1939

"The orchestra," Canadian Music, vol 1, Mar [1940 sic] 1941

"Music and the Massey report: do handicaps out-weigh hopes?" Saturday Night Magazine, vol 66, 17 Jul 1951

"Music in Canada," Queen's Q, vol 60, Winter 1954

"Solo artists," Music in Canada "Ettore Mazzoleni," OpCan, Sep 1964


Willan Coronation Suite. CBC Orch and Chor, Mazzoleni conductor. 1954. RCI 118

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