Rafael Masella

Rafael (Raffaele) Masella. Clarinetist, teacher, composer, b Montreal 1 Oct 1922; L MUS (McGill) 1939, premier prix clarinet (Paris Conservatory) 1948.

Masella, Rafael

Rafael (Raffaele) Masella. Clarinetist, teacher, composer, b Montreal 1 Oct 1922; L MUS (McGill) 1939, premier prix clarinet (Paris Conservatory) 1948. After taking lessons in theory and solfège from his father, Frank, and grandfather, Raffaele, he studied clarinet with Joseph Moretti 1935-9 at McGill University and with Jan Williams and Arthur Christman 1939-41 at the Juilliard School, New York. In 1937 he was a member of the Canadian Grenadier Guards Band. He went back to McGill University for further studies with Claude Champagne (theory), Henri Miro, and Frank Hanson (harmony and composition). He was principal clarinet in the RCAF Band 1943-5, studied at the Paris Conservatory 1946-8 with Auguste Périer and François Étienne, and obtained second prize at the Geneva International Competition for Musical Performance in 1947, the first Canadian to win an award in this competition. That year he performed Émilien Allard'sDivertissement for clarinet and orchestra at a festival of Canadian music in Paris. (In 1975 he performed the work again, along a concerto by Weber on the CBC TV program 'Concerto.') With Colombe Pelletier and Gilles Lefebvre he formed the Trio canadien (Paris), which performed in 1948 at the Salle Gaveau, Paris, as well as in Belgium, Luxembourg, and Canada.

The Masella Wind Trio, consisting of Rafael and his brothers Pietro and Rodolfo, was particularly active in the decade 1950-60. It made a JMC (YMC) tour of Quebec in 1950-1, gave concerts in Montreal, took part in CBC programs including 'Radio-Collège,' and performed in Ottawa and at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts as part of the Montreal Festivals in August 1960.

Masella went on JMC tours in Quebec in 1957-8 and 1960-1. He was principal clarinet with the MSO 1944-6 and 1948-70 and guest soloist with numerous orchestras, including the McGill Chamber Orchestra, with which he played Andrew Twa'sSerenade (1964) and other works. In 1963 he and the saxophonist Arthur Romano performed Marius Flothuis' Double Concerto with the CBC 'Little Symphonies' Orchestra. He has appeared in recitals with his wife, the harpist Dorothy Weldon. He taught 1955-65 at the McGill Conservatory and 1958-88 at the CMM in 1958 and began teaching at McGill University in 1989; he was coach in 1976 for the wind section of the JM World Orchestra and in 1978 for the clarinet section of the NYO at the Banff SFA. Gilles Carpentier, Jean Laurendeau, and Victor Sawa were among his pupils.

Masella's Fantaisie for piano was premiered in 1940 on the CBC by Fleurette Beauchamp, his former piano teacher. His other compositions include an Ave Maria for soprano and piano (1941), a Menuet for piano, The Nanyon Parade (1941), a Valse for piano and military band (1942), and a Sonata for violin and piano premiered in 1949 by Norman Herschorn and Gilbert Hill at Tudor Hall. Masella has also composed two songs, 'L'Entrée de mon amour' and 'Till We Meet Again.'

See also Joseph, Alfred, Paul, Mario, and Giulio (his brothers).


Further Reading

  • Johnstone, Ken. 'How Papa Masella made his boys make music,' Maclean's, 1 Mar 1954