Leonard Isaacs

Leonard Isaacs. Administrator, teacher, pianist, conductor, arranger, b Manchester 3 Jan 1909, naturalized Canadian 1973, d Winnipeg 6 Dec 1997; ARCM 1928, B MUS (London) 1934, FRCM 1983. His father was Edward Isaacs, the English pianist-composer and pupil of Busoni.

Isaacs, Leonard

Leonard Isaacs. Administrator, teacher, pianist, conductor, arranger, b Manchester 3 Jan 1909, naturalized Canadian 1973, d Winnipeg 6 Dec 1997; ARCM 1928, B MUS (London) 1934, FRCM 1983. His father was Edward Isaacs, the English pianist-composer and pupil of Busoni. Leonard Isaacs studied 1925-9 at the RCM with Herbert Fryer (piano), Gordon Jacob (composition), Frank Probyn (harmony), and Malcolm Sargent (conducting). He later studied piano in Paris with Alfred Cortot at the École normale de musique (receiving a diplôme d'exécution in 1930) and privately in Berlin with Egon Petri. First visiting Canada 1931-2 as pianist, coach, and deputy conductor of the English Light Opera, he returned in 1953, 1957, 1960, and 1963 as an adjudicator for the FCMF while holding various producing and senior administrative positions 1936-63 with the BBC, notably as head of music 1950-4 for the 'Third Programme' and 1954-63 for the 'Home Service.'

Isaacs moved to Canada to serve 1963-74 as director of the School of Music, University of Manitoba, and after his retirement from that position he was visiting professor 1974-5 at the University of Calgary and gave courses at Carleton University and at the Banff SFA. In the 1970s he was heard frequently on CBC radio programs, as commentator on 'Canadian Concert Hall,' 'New Records,' and 'In Concert,' as host for the CBC Winnipeg Festival (1975-7), and as writer-commentator for the special series 'Chamber Music' (1976) and 'The Human Bach' (1977). In 1982 Isaacs became professor emeritus at the University of Manitoba; he continued to teach privately.

Isaacs' published works include Four French Canadian Folk Songs (Schott 1959) for soprano and harp or piano, piano duets and trios for festival use issued 1954-5 by Curwen, and an arrangement of Bach's The Art of Fugue for chamber orchestra (Augener 1952). The latter was recorded by George Malcolm and the Philomusica of London (2-Argo ZRG 5421-5422/SDD-356-7), by the CBC String and Woodwind Ensemble under Alexander Brott (RCI 126), and by a string and woodwind group under Isaacs (RCI 157). Isaacs also contributed articles to EMC, and completed his memoirs in 1996. He continued giving performances and lectures until November 1997.

See also Discography for A. Polson.

Writings

'Boris Roubakine mourned by following,' Canadian Music Teacher, Nov 1974

'Manitoba Opera (Le Nozze di Figaro),' OpCan, summer 1992

Leonard Isaacs: Five lives in one: Selected memoirs. (Hubbards, N.S. 1998)


Further Reading

  • Litwack, Linda. 'Winnipeg musician looks back over fifty years,' Fugue, vol 2, Feb 1978

    Neville, William. 'Lives lived: Leonard Isaacs,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 8 Jan 1998