Mona Bates

Mona (Hazelwood) Bates. Pianist, teacher, b Burlington, Ont, 31 Oct 1889, d Toronto 29 Mar 1971; ATCM 1908. She studied with J.E.P. Aldous in Hamilton (giving her first recital there at seven), and with Edward Fisher, A.S. Vogt, and, after 1913, Viggo Kihl in Toronto.

Bates, Mona

Mona (Hazelwood) Bates. Pianist, teacher, b Burlington, Ont, 31 Oct 1889, d Toronto 29 Mar 1971; ATCM 1908. She studied with J.E.P. Aldous in Hamilton (giving her first recital there at seven), and with Edward Fisher, A.S. Vogt, and, after 1913, Viggo Kihl in Toronto. She became a teacher at the TCM in 1912. While studying with Kihl, she appeared 30 Apr 1914 at Massey Hall in a performance of Liszt's Hungarian Fantasy with the Welsman TSO and was praised in the Canadian Journal of Music for 'a legitimate reading and confident technique'.

Mona Bates met Ernest Hutcheson at Chautauqua in 1916, became his pupil, and served also as his assistant 1917-20 at Chautauqua and the Juilliard School. Later, she studied with Sigismund Stojowski, also in New York. Her New York debuts were 21 Aug 1919 at Lewisohn Stadium (Conservatory Quarterly Review, vol 2, Nov 1919), where, with an orchestra, she repeated the Liszt Fantasy, and in 1920 at Aeolian Hall (Who is Who in Music 1951), where she gave a recital, her program including Beethoven's 'Waldstein' Sonata. She was soloist 28 Feb 1921 with Damrosch and the New York SO at a Massey Hall concert in Toronto, and her performance was described by Lawrence Mason in The Globe as 'a remarkable example of finished, fluent execution'. Her London debut, 9 Nov 1922 at Aeolian Hall, earned praise from The Times ('fresh, sincere and genuinely musical') and the Daily Telegraph. She then toured Europe, playing in Prague, Vienna, Budapest, and Paris. While in Paris she studied with Isidor Philipp; while in Budapest, with Zoltán Kodály. Her name was considered too plain for Europe, so she reversed the spelling and toured as the exotic Anom Setab. However, her publicity stressed her Canadian birth and was full of information about wheat and mineral resources. She recorded for Duo-Art Piano Rolls and for Victor.

In 1925 Bates gave up her concert career and opened a studio on Jarvis St, Toronto, where she taught piano for the next 40-odd years. Among her pupils were Muriel Albert, Elsie Bennett, Madeline Bone, Margaret Miller Brown, Etta Coles, George Crum, Erica Goodman, Marian Grudeff, Gordon Hallett, John Knight, Warren Mould, Patricia Parr, Clifford Poole, and Naomi Yanova Adaskin. In 1931, inspired by a benefit concert conducted by Walter Damrosch, Mona Bates organized the Ten-Piano Ensemble to raise funds for the needy. The ensemble comprised the best-known Bates pupils and was conducted by her. During World War II the ensemble became part of her Musical Manifesto Group, gave numerous performances, and raised thousands of dollars for the war effort. In 1967 she was one of six recipients of the CFMTA Centennial Citation. In 1976 several of her pupils set up a scholarship fund in her name at the RCMT. The first winners were Erica Goodman and Lawrence Pitchko in 1978.


Further Reading

  • 'Mona Bates gets bouquets,' MCan, vol 16, Aug 1920

    'Famous Canadian pianist's success in Austria and Hungary,' MCan, vol 6, Jul 1925

    Hamilton, H.C. 'Canadian musician of the month,' MCan, vol 12, Jul-Aug 1931

    Dempsey, Lotta. 'Money will help the music sound sweeter,' Toronto Star, 8 Nov 1978