Norman Sherman

Norman (Morris) Sherman, composer, bassoonist, teacher (born 25 February 1924 in Boston, Massachusetts; died 30 April 2015 in London, ON).

Norman (Morris) Sherman, composer, bassoonist, teacher (born 25 February 1924 in Boston, Massachusetts; died 30 April 2015 in London, ON). In 1949, he earned a B MUS (Boston) in composition. He studied 1946–49 bassoon with Ernst Panenka and chamber music performance with Fernand Gillet (both then members of the Boston SO) and attended Messiaen's analysis classes at Tanglewood and at the Paris Cons during 1950. He was a bassoonist in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (1953–54), the Winnipeg and CBC Winnipeg SOs (principal of both, 195761), the Residentie-Orkest (Hague Philharmonic; principal, 1961–69), the NACO (principal, 196972), and Orchestra London (principal,1972–74). During the course of his performing career, he played under renowned conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Jean Martinon, Karl Böhm, Carl Schuricht, Bruno Maderna, Carlo Maria Giulini, Eugene Ormandy and Charles Munch. He performed the solo part in his own Sinfonia Concertante for Bassoon and Strings (1950) in Winnipeg, The Hague and Kingston. He became senior instructor in composition and orchestration at Queen's University in 1974, and played with the Canadian Wind Quintet and Trianon (trio), the latter a baroque trio whose members were his wife, the harpsichordist Riquette Sherman and the violinist Alanna DeptuchVághy.

Sherman was not a prolific composer but many of his works are of major proportions and show an excellent command of orchestral colour, earned from his years as an orchestral musician. He often used serial procedures. His later works were composed on commission, largely through the CBC, the Canada Council and the OAC. His music has been performed by the Radio Symphony Hilversum, the Radio Symphony Israel (later Jerusalem SO), the Residentie-Orkest, and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra under Bruno Maderna who premiered Through the Rainbow and/or Across the Valley in 1967. In Canada, his music has been performed by the Canadian Forces Vimy Band, the Edmonton, Kingston, Kitchener-Waterloo, Quebec, Regina, Winnipeg and Vancouver SOs, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra London, pianist Antonin Kubálek, Music Inter Alia, and the York Winds. His Thesis for Orchestra (1975) has been performed widely since its premiere by the Kingston SO. Quadron (1976, Kerby 1978) had its first performance by the Vághy String Quartet in Kingston as part of the 1976 Olympic festivities, and Quintessant (1977, Caveat 1982) has been recorded by the York Winds (1982, Centrediscs CMC-0482/RCI 564). The Events of November 10, 1812 (1978), a programmatic work for narrator, orchestra and optional cannon, was inspired by marching tunes of the period and draws its text from two of the war proclamations of General Isaac Brock plus an eye-witness report of the attack on Upper Canada during the War of 1812.

Sherman was an associate of the Canadian Music Centre and a member of of the CLComp.


Further Reading

  • MacMillan, Rick. 'Sherman finds aural exposure indispensable to composing,' MSc, 291, Sep-Oct 1976

    PRO Canada Ltd. 'Norman Sherman,' pamphlet, 1982