León Zuckert

Zuckert, León. Composer, violinist, violist, conductor, b Poltava, Ukraine, 4 May 1904, d Toronto 29 May 1992. He studied violin 1916-18 with Boris Brodsky at the Imperial School of Music in Poltava.

Zuckert, León

Zuckert, León. Composer, violinist, violist, conductor, b Poltava, Ukraine, 4 May 1904, d Toronto 29 May 1992. He studied violin 1916-18 with Boris Brodsky at the Imperial School of Music in Poltava. After living in Poland and Argentina, where he played violin in cafés, theatres, dance bands, and movie houses, he moved to Canada in 1929. Between 1929 and 1969 he played in many orchestras in Canada, the USA, and Mexico, including the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra 1932-4, the TSO 1951-6 and 1961-3, and the Halifax Symphony Orchestra (Atlantic Symphony Orchestra) 1963-5 (principal viola and assistant conductor) and 1967-9 (violin). He played viola with the MSO for its 1962 tour of the USSR, Austria, and France. In 1937 he studied conducting with Reginald Stewart at the TCM. In Winnipeg in the 1930s he had his own weekly nationally broadcast program for the CRBC (later the CBC), 'To a Wild Rose,' featuring violin and piano music. He was also composer, arranger, and conductor for the 16-piece Argentina-style ensemble Los Pamperos for the widely popular programs 'Seville Fair' (CRBC), and 'Along Gypsy Trails' (CBC).

Zuckert received commissions from the CBC Winnipeg Orchestra for Fantasia on Ukrainian Themes, from the Toronto Shevchenko Musical Ensemble for In the Gleam of Northern Lights, and from the Toronto Jewish Folk Choir for Canadian Work Songs Suite and Sholem-yeh! Milhome-nein!. His symphonic suite Quetico was composed for the Christopher Chapman film of the same name. His musical style, although varied, was perhaps most expressive in the tonal idiom; he favoured a melodic line with carefully placed dissonance and broad gestures. His songs, in particular, have been lauded for their sensitive treatment of text. Many of his compositions are Spanish-influenced. Jubal Records has issued A Tribute to León Zuckert (Jubal 5007) featuring performances by Ofra Harnoy, Rivka Golani, and others. He was married to the poet Ella Bobrow, with whom he collaborated on many songs. Zuckert's status as an associate is maintained at the Canadian Music Centre.

Selected Compositions

Orchestra
My Canadian Travels. 1938. Ms

2 Symphonies. (1949, 1962). Ms

Quetico. 1957. Ms

Dnieper (Shevchenko). 1961. SATB chorus, orch. Ms

Divertimento Orientale. 1965. Ob, string orch. Ms

Two Moods in One. 1967. Str orch. Ms

My Paintings. 1969. Str orch. Ms

Impressions of Tenerife. 1970. Ms. ('Shepherd's Sadness') Jubal 5007 (Golani)

Fantasia on Ukrainian Themes. 1973. Ms

In the Gleam of Northern Lights (Bobrow). 1974. TTBB chorus, dancers, orch; or SATB, 2 piano, string, percussion. Ms

Two Spanish Meditations. 1974. Ms

Concerto for bassoon and string orchestra. 1976. Ms

Elegía: Elegy. 1977. Ms

A Homage. 1980. Ms

Escenas Granadinas: Spanish Ballet Suite. 1980. Ms

Symphonic Sketch. 1982. Ms

Evening in a Russian Village. 1985. Mand orch. Ms

Preciosa y el Viento, ballet. 1986. Ms

Writings

'My most successful work,' CanComp, 28, Apr 1968

Chamber

N'ila. 1916 (rev 1953). Vn (violoncello), piano (string quartet). Ms. MMG 1137 (Harnoy)

Gypsy Memories. 1938. Vn, piano; or accordion. Ms

Two Hebrew Pieces. 1947 (rev 1982). Str quartet. Ms

Prayer (A. Shum, transl Bobrow). 1960. V, string quartet. Ms

Preludio en Modo Antiguo.1964. Brass ensemble. Ms

Song in Brass (P. Zoline). 1964. V, viola, brass ensemble, timp, percussion. Ms

String Quartet. 1965

Psychedelic Suite. 1968. Brass quintet. Ms. 1972. CBC SM-225 (Atlantic Brass Ens)

Little Spanish Dance. 1970. Fl, piano. Jay 1971. Dom S-69006 (Aitken)

Sonata Amorfa. 1970. Vn, piano. Ms

Quinteto de la Luna y del Mar y Oceánida (Lugones). 1972. Med voice, string quartet, piano. Ms

Elegiac Improvisation. 1972. Fl, piano. Ms. RCI 421 (Shulman)

Sur Le Lac Baptiste, Ontario. 1972. Saxophone (clarinet), piano. Ms

Short Suite. 1974. Tpt (clarinet or viola), piano. Ms. ('Lento Triste') Jubal 5007 (Golani)

Suite for Bassoon Solo. 1975. Ms

Concerto for 2 Cellos. 1979. 2 violoncello (violoncello, bassoon), piano. Ms

Melancholic Piece (Pieza Melancólica). 1980. Trb (bassoon or violoncello), piano. Ms. Fanfare DFCD-9019 (Harnoy)

For Ofra: Two Contrasting Moods. 1982. Vc, piano. Ms

Sonata. 1984. Va solo

The Three Brave Snowflakes: a musical fairy tale (Bobrow). 1985. Narr, fl, violin, piano. Septima ZB-1 (cass) (Carl Banas narrator, Camerata Trio)

Also many other works for various soloists and instr ensemble including 14 guitar pieces (Arabesca, recorded on Jubal 5007 by Robert Feuerstein)

Choir

A la Mujer del Poeta (V. Lozano). 1978. Ten, TTBB, piano. Ms

Canadian Work Songs Suite (arr). 1978. Sop, alto, SATB, piano. Ms

Longing for Peace (H. Schwartz). 1978. Bar, SATB (TTBB), piano or orch. Ms

Sholem-yeh! Milhome-nein! (Schwartz). 1985. SATB, piano. Ms

Also Piano Pieces, vols 1-3 (1967-77); School Days (1982) and Siempre joven (1987) also for piano; several songs including 'Days Come and Go,' 'How Sweet,' 'Spring Thaw,' recorded on Master MA-275; 'Remember,' on Master MA-377; 'Serenade' and 'Prayer' on Master MA-904 (all by D.Mills); 'Serenade' and 'How Sweet' (D. Varjabed bar, Parr piano), 'Indian Lullaby' and 'True Love' (A. Sharon soprano, Parr piano), and 'Spring Thaw' and 'Oriental Romance' (Landry) all on Jubal 5007


Further Reading

  • Schulman, Michael. 'Leon Zuckert: an old-world composer inspired by travel,' CanComp, 128, Feb 1978