Jan Cherniavsky | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Jan Cherniavsky

Jan Cherniavsky. Pianist, b Uman, Ukraine, 25 Jun 1892, naturalized Canadian 1922, d Vancouver 8 Jan 1989.

Cherniavsky, Jan

Jan Cherniavsky. Pianist, b Uman, Ukraine, 25 Jun 1892, naturalized Canadian 1922, d Vancouver 8 Jan 1989. He was the second of three brothers (Leo, violinist, b 30 Aug 1890, d 1974; Mischel, cellist, b 1893, d Dieppe, France, 21 Feb 1982) who performed together as the Cherniavsky Trio from childhood (1901) until 1934, touring Europe 1901-6, South Africa, Egypt, Australia, and New Zealand in 1908, and North America 1915-17. They disbanded in 1934 after a concert in Salt Lake City. (Leo went to Australia, where he performed and broadcast, and then to South Africa. Mischel moved to London, where he pursued a solo career; he eventually settled in France.) The trio made recordings for Columbia and Edison. Jan, after early studies in the Ukraine, had his most significant tuition from Leschetizky, first when the family moved to Vienna in 1905 and then between 1910 and 1915. At this time he also made some solo acoustic 78s for Pathé Saphir.

Though all three brothers became Canadian citizens in 1922, only Jan actually lived in Canada, but not permanently until 1934, when he settled in Vancouver. (He lived there briefly before 1920, married a Vancouver woman, and did some teaching.) He continued to give concerts throughout North America, and in 1958, with his brothers, briefly revived the trio for a tour of South Africa. In Vancouver he involved himself in the musical life of the city, promoting opera, giving concerts in aid of the Vancouver Endowment Trust Foundation, and contributing to opera and theatre for children. He played an important part with Allard de Ridder in re-establishing the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in 1930, encouraging patrons and helping to inaugurate the orchestra's Sunday concerts. In 1967 he established the Vancouver Junior Club for the Performing Arts (later the Cherniavsky Junior Music Club), a plan that allowed young people to purchase concert and theatre tickets at a reduced rate. Cherniavsky himself subsidized the club initially, but in 1978 Chevron Canada assumed financial responsibility until 1987 when membership grew to an unmanageable 16,000 and the club was discontinued.

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