Walter Joachim

Walter Joachim. Cellist, teacher, b Düsseldorf 5 May 1912, naturalized Canadian 1957, d Montreal 20 Dec 2001. At four he began studying the violin; at five, the cello. Studies followed at the conservatory in his home town.

Joachim, Walter

Walter Joachim. Cellist, teacher, b Düsseldorf 5 May 1912, naturalized Canadian 1957, d Montreal 20 Dec 2001. At four he began studying the violin; at five, the cello. Studies followed at the conservatory in his home town. At 17, he entered the Rheinische Musikschule in Cologne, where he was taught 1929-31 by Karl-Maria Schwamberger. During this time he became principal cellist of the Rheinische Musikschule Orchestra. A series of concerts and recitals in Germany established him as a performer, and from then on he divided his time between touring and teaching. With a group of Italian musicians 1930-3 he made two tours across Europe and Asia, as far as Calcutta. He then worked 1934-8 in Prague as a freelance soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player. During and after the Second World War he pursued his career in Malaya and China, teaching and giving concerts 1938-40 in Kuala Lumpur and serving 1940-51 as head of the cello department at the Shanghai Conservatory and principal cellist of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

Joachim settled in Canada in 1952 and joined the MSO in 1953, soon advancing to the chair of principal cello and retaining that position until 1979, and also playing in the McGill Chamber Orchestra. Besides giving a number of recitals on CBC radio and TV, he was a co-founder and member of the Montreal String Quartet. The onset of Parkinson's disease led him to concentrate on teaching from the early 1980s. His students included more than 30 professional cellists who have worked in Canada and abroad, notably Denis Brott, Guy Fouquet (who succeeded Joachim as principal cellist of the MSO in 1979), Hélène Gagné, Marcel St Cyr, and Sophie Rolland. Joachim taught 1952-79 at the CMM and 1952-63 and 1979-89 at McGill University, 1953-62 at the Orford Arts Centre, 1960-72 for the NYO, three summers for the JM World Orchestra, and 1978-2000 at the Domaine Forget. He also taught privately. In 1987 and 1991 he again toured China, as a guest teacher in various schools. A celebration concert was held in 1992 for his 80th birthday. Joachim remained active as a teacher and examiner, and in the 1990s served on a committee for the reconstruction of CAMMAC's Lake MacDonald Music Centre, with which he had been associated in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1992 he was named a Chevalier of the Order of Quebec and a member of the Order of Canada. He was awarded Quebec's Prix Denise Pelletier in 1995.

With the pianist John Newmark he premiered his brother Otto's Sonata in 1954 and Violet Archer'sSonata in 1957, and recorded both (RCI 139, reissued on 6-ACM 14 and 7-ACM 17 respectively). Also with Newmark, he recorded the WeinzweigSonata (RCI 209/RCI ACM 1) and works by Bloch, Dvořák, Hindemith, and Martinu (RCI 209).

See also Musica Antica e Nuova; Discographies for Berman, Bress, Montreal String Quartet, Newmark, and Reiner.

See also Davis Joachim (his nephew).


Further Reading

  • Kraglund, John. 'His pupils approach Bach through period costumes,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 25 Aug 1966

    'Meet the orchestra: Walter Joachim: a full life,' Variations, vol 1, Apr 1978

    Peterson, Maureen. 'First cellist retiring - to a life of more work,' Montreal Gazette, 5 May 1979

    'Walter Joachim was MSO cellist,' Montreal Gazette, 22 Dec 2001

    Gingras, Claude. 'Walter Joachim était un grand artiste,' La Presse, 27 déc 2001

    See also Davis Joachim.