Louis Applebaum | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Louis Applebaum

Louis Applebaum. Composer, administrator, conductor, b Toronto 3 Apr 1918, d there 19 Apr 2000; honorary D LITT (York) 1979; honorary ARCT 1982.

Applebaum, Louis

Louis Applebaum. Composer, administrator, conductor, b Toronto 3 Apr 1918, d there 19 Apr 2000; honorary D LITT (York) 1979; honorary ARCT 1982. At the TCM (RCMT) and the University of Toronto 1928-40, studying piano with Boris Berlin and theory with Healey Willan, Leo Smith, and Sir Ernest MacMillan, Applebaum completed the work towards a B MUS but did not take the examinations. Instead, he went to New York to study composition 1940-1 on scholarship with Roy Harris and Bernard Wagenaar. First a film composer, Applebaum produced some 250 scores for the NFB between 1942 and 1960. He also established himself early as a conceptual thinker, practical planner, and resourceful negotiator. Appointments with the NFB (music director 1942-8, consultant 1949-53) and in New York with World Today films (music director 1946-9) and the National Film Council (member, advisory committee) set the pattern for a succession of practical or consulting assignments at the forefront of the evolution of performing rights and arts policies.

In 1955 Applebaum established the Stratford Music Festival as a separate aspect of the two-year-old Stratford Festival. Applebaum resigned from administrative duties at Stratford in 1960 (though he continued until 1999 to provide incidental music for festival productions) and embarked on his first private enterprise, serving as president of Group Four productions, makers of documentaries and TV shows for market, until 1966. During the same period, he was music consultant 1960-3 for CBC TV; chairman 1963-6 of the music, opera, and ballet advisory committee for the NAC; and the author in 1965 of A Proposal for the Musical Development of the Capital Region, the government-commissioned report which led to the formation of the NACO and of a plan for the establishment of a department of music at the University of Ottawa. He then served 1965-70 as chairman of the CAPAC-Canadian Association of Broadcasters committee for the promotion of Canadian music. He also sat 1966-9 on the advisory arts panel and was an arts-award jury member 1970-1 for the Canada Council, served 1967-8 on the planning committee for Co-ordinated Arts Services, and was consultant 1968-70 for the St Lawrence Centre. He was on the staff of CAPAC 1968-71 in charge of member relations, and subsequently continued to serve on its board, a function he had filled almost without a break since its inception. He became the trustee of the John Adaskin Memorial Fund and was a regular consultant for the POCA (see OAC).

In 1971 the OAC appointed Applebaum its executive director - a position which brought into play all facets of his experience in the administration and politics of the arts, and in the arts themselves, and which gave him a major role in the phenomenal acceleration of cultural development in Ontario in the 1970s. He retained the position until 1980, when he took up new duties as chairman of the Federal Cultural Policy Review Committee. (See Applebaum-Hébert Report.) Originally set up in 1979 as an 'advisory committee on cultural policy,' this body was enlarged in 1980 and charged with consulting country-wide on matters of cultural concern. The committee's report strongly reiterated the 'arms' length' principle of goverment involvement in culture and the arts, and made persuasive cases for policy renewal especially in areas such as heritage, film development, and international cultural relations.

In other activities, Applebaum gave courses 1974-6 on music for film, theatre, and TV at York University and again (jointly with Paul Hoffert) 1982-9. He was interim artistic director of the Guelph Spring Festival for the 1988-9 season. He was president of CAPAC 1988-90, and co-chair of the committee to negotiate a merger with PRO Canada. When the new performing-rights body, SOCAN, came into existence, Applebaum was elected its first president, 1990-2.

Applebaum's career as a composer proceeded steadily despite the heavy demands of his other activities. In 1953, with most of his several hundred film scores behind him (including The Story of G. I. Joe, 1946, which was nominated for an Academy Award) and with incidental music to his credit for CBC radio productions of Hamlet, Le Médecin malgré lui, Peer Gynt, Antigone, Oedipus, and The Madwoman of Chaillot, Applebaum became a kind of staff composer for the first Stratford Festival. He wrote the 'foyer fanfares' which became a tradition there and composed incidental music for the inaugural productions Richard III and All's Well that Ends Well. In total, he turned out incidental music for more than 75 Stratford plays, the last being The School for Scandal in 1999.

Applebaum composed many scores for plays, for example those produced by Esse Ljungh on CBC radio, by Tyrone Guthrie (Tamburlaine the Great, 1956) and Michael Langham (Max Frisch's Andorra, 1963) on Broadway, by the Royal Shakespeare Co (Much Ado About Nothing, 1961), by the Manitoba Theatre Centre (Mother Courage and Nicholas Romanov, the latter revised for Stratford, 1966, as The Last of the Tsars), and by Theatre London (Timon of Athens, 1983).

Applebaum's three ballets were commissioned: Dark of the Moon (revised as Barbara Allen) by the National Ballet of Canada, Legend of the North by the Janet Baldwin Ballet of Toronto, and Homage for performance by the National Ballet at the opening ceremonies of the NAC. He also composed the electronic curtain-music used on that occasion.

For CBC TV Applebaum composed scores for 8 episodes of The National Dream (1973), 14 of the Purple Playhouse (1973), and 5 of the Images of Canada, and produced scores for many other series, as well as for the specials Mother Courage (1964), Next Year in Jerusalem (1974), Journey Without Arrival (1975), Homage to Chagall (1976), Sarah (1976), The Masseys (1978), Raymond Massey (1984), and Karsh: The Searching Eye (1985). His score for the mini-series Glory Enough For All (Gemstone Productions) received a 1990 Gemini Award.

Like his theatre music, Applebaum's concert pieces usually are written to order, the assignments as various as the commissioners (eg, 'Cry of the Prophet' for the Canadian Jewish Congress; Concertante for Small Orchestra for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra; Place Setting for the opening of Hamilton Place; and Play On! for the RCMT centennial concert). In this field, also, the size of Applebaum's output is remarkable considered in relation to the complexity of his administrative life, particularly if it is remembered that he conducted many of the Stratford and CBC performances of his own music, Stratford opera productions (including Guthrie's stagings of H.M.S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance on tour in England and the USA, 1962-3), and Eldon Rathburn's soundtrack (later issued as a recording, Dominion LAB-650S, conducted and produced by Applebaum) for Expo 67's Labyrinth.

Applebaum's creative trademarks were North American energy and optimism, possibly a legacy from his studies with Harris. His flexibility and assured craft, evident in his many occasional and functional scores, were complemented by a command of discursive lengths, as illustrated in more autonomous projects from the early Barbara Allen through to the musical ghost story The Harper of the Stones (librettist and first narrator, Robertson Davies) - with its spectral dance episode accompanied on spoons and its striking passacaglia-finale. His extensive film experience gave Applebaum an aptitude for technological devices, and from King Lear in the mid-1960s to Hamlet in 1991, his Stratford scores often employed electroacoustic means. At the same time his repertoire of song settings for Stratford productions, whether for vocal-instrumental ensemble or small choir, covered a wide gamut of styles and conventions. In 1987 he gathered together some of these in a Folio adapted for voice-and-piano concert performance. Applebaum's last major work was the opera Erewhon (libretto by Mavor Moore), commissioned by the Pacific Opera Victoria, which debuted February 2000.

Though the administrative and compositional aspects of Applebaum's career may seem divergent, to him they were confluent. In an interview in the Canadian Composer (January 1974) he said: 'Essentially I'm working to improve the lot of my colleagues and I have been doing that for many years - at the same time staying on ... as a functioning artist ... Though I was a composer there, the Film Board was the kind of operation that made one part of a great social force ... And when I got into other kinds of musical activities, like the theatre at Stratford, it was a Stratford that was changing the theatrical life of our country. When the Canada Council was formed, I was there, helping in whatever way I could, and also with the League of Composers and the Canadian Music Centre, the Music Council and the National Arts Centre ... No matter where I am or in what medium I am working, my life always seems to be pointing in the same direction.' In keeping with this philosophy, the composer established the Louis Applebaum Composers Fund, administered by the Ontario Arts Council Foundation.

In addition to the aforementioned Academy Award nomination, Applebaum won a special Hollywood Writers' Mobilization award (1945) for his score for Tomorrow the World, a citation (1950) from the New York National Board of Review for Lost Boundaries, the Flaherty Award (1952) for And Now Miguel, Canadian Film Awards for Paddle to the Sea (1958), Wheat Country (1959), and Athabasca (1968), and a Wilderness Award (1973) for Folly on the Hill. He was the first recipient of an honorary ARCT from the RCMT. He became an honorary fellow of the Ontario College of Art in 1980 and of OISE in 1988. In January 1991 the Jewish Community Centre in Toronto named him Arts Person of the Year. He was a founding member of the CLComp, an associate of the Canadian Music Centre, a Companion (1995) of the Order of Canada, and a Member of the Order of Ontario (1989). Awards in the 1990s included an industry achievement Juno in 1995, various SOCAN awards, and in 1998 both the Arts Toronto Lifetime Achievement Award and the Diplôme d'honneur of the Canadian Conference of the Arts. At the time of his death, Applebaum was chairman of the SOCAN Foundation. Stratford's Richard Monette summed up Applebaum's tremendous influence thus: 'Lou Applebaum was the dean of Canadian theatre composers.' In the SOCAN News, Rick MacMillan said, 'Louis Applebaum ... will be remembered for his astoundingly broad and comprehensive contributions to Canadian music. But those close to him will always recall his open-mindedness, his modesty, his patience and his unselfish passion for improving the working environment for composers.' Applebaum's papers have been deposited at York University.

Selected Compositions


Suite of Miniature Dances, ballet. 1953. Sm orch (arr, band 1964). Kerby 1972 (band). RCA PCS-1004/Citadel CT-6007 (Cable)

Legend of the North, ballet. 1957. Pf, percussion. Ms

Ride a Pink Horse, musical comedy (John Gray). 1959. Ms

Homage, ballet. 1969. Full orch. Ms

Comus 'a reworking of the masque by Thomas Arne' (Reaney). 1986. Ms

So You Think You're Mozart? musical play (P. Quarrington). 1991 (Toronto 1991). Ms

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, ballet. 1991 (Toronto 1991). Narr, instr ensemble. Ms

Over 50 incidental scores and many songs for plays in Canada, USA, England

See also Barbara Allen.


Tomorrow the World (1945); The Story of G.I. Joe (1946); Dreams that Money Can Buy (1947); Lost Boundaries (1949); Teresa, Walk East on Beacon; Whistle at Eaton Falls (all 1951); All My Babies, And Now Miguel, End of the Long Day, Royal Journey, Varley (all 1952); Stratford Adventure (1954); Krieghoff (1955); Canadian Profile (1957); Paddle to the Sea (1966); Athabasca (1967); Energy (1975)

Radio, TV

Scores for ca 400 documentaries and TV films and ca 200 incidental scores for TV and radio plays

Orchestra and Band

East by North. 1947. Full orch. Ms

'Revival Meeting and Finale' from Barbara Allen. 1964. Med orch. Ms. Col MS-6763 (Susskind conductor)/CBC SM-273 (Atlantic Symphony Orchestra)

Dialogue With Footnotes. 1984. Big jazz band, orch. Ms

Celebration York. 1985. Band. Ms

High Spirits. 1986. Band. Ms

And others

Fanfares and Ceremonial Music

Three Stratford Fanfares. 1953. Brass, percussion. Leeds 1966. (No. 1 and 2) RCA RCA PCS-1004/Citadel CT-6007 (Cable conductor)

Joy to the World, pageant (Daniel Lord). Ca 1954. Soli, SATB, orch. Ms

Fanfare to Welcome a Queen. 1958. Brass, percussion. Ms

Fanfare - Royal Ceremonial. 1967. Brass, percussion. Ms

Song for the National Arts Centre (Birney). 1967. SSA, band. Ms

Terre des hommes/Man and His World. 1967. Ww, brass, percussion. Ms

Place Setting. 1973. Orch. Ms

Fanfare for 'Fanfare '84'. 1984. Brass. Ms

Play On! 1987. Soli, chorus, orch. Ms

And others


'Cry of the Prophet' (biblical). 1951, rev 1952. Bar, piano. Ms. RCA LSC-3092 (Fine, bass)/Master MA-377 (D Mills)

Two Carols of French Canada. 1951 and 1953. SATB, orch; soprano, SSA, piano. Ms. TCC 003 (Tor Children's Chor)/HO 100 (Oriana Singers)

Four English Carols. 1953. SATB, piano. Ms

A Folio of Shakespearean Songs. 1954-87. Med voice, piano. Ms

Two Maritime Carols. 1958. SATB. Leeds 1971, GVT 1986. ('Cherry Tree') Poly 2917-009 (Festival Singers)

Touch Wood. 1969. Pf. GVT 1969. Dom S-69002 (Mould)

Essay. 1971. Fl. Leeds 1971. Dom S-69006 (Aitken)

Keep Moving. 1973. Pf. Wat 1973

Algoma Central (railroad timetables). 1976. Sop, harp, piano. Ms

Inunit, 5 episodes for voice and orchestra (Inuit text). 1977. Ms

Of Love and High Times (Newfoundland folk songs). 1979. Sop, SATB, fl, horn, percussion. GVT 1981. CBC SM-5097 (Vancouver Chamber Choir)

The Harper of the Stones (R. Davies). 1987. Narr, chamber ensemble. Ms

Four Dances in a Nineteenth Century Style. 1987. Brass quintet. Ms

A Mosaic of Anthems. 1988. SATB, piano. Ms

And others


(with Robert Fleming) Man of Music, National Film Board script (1959)

'Musical creation in an age of technology; with discography,' Proceedings and Transactions of the Royal Soc of Canada, vol 4, 1961

'Introduction,' The Modern Composer and His World, ed Beckwith and Kasemets (Toronto 1961)

A Proposal for the Musical Development of the Capital Region (Ottawa 1965)

'Stratford's musical festival,' The Stratford Scene 1958-68, ed Peter Raby (Toronto 1968)

Toronto's Orchestral Resources: A Study Prepared for POCA and the Canada Council (Toronto 1968)

'Creating a climate for creativity,' Dunning Trust Lectures, Queen's University 1977

'The paradox and puzzle of music on Canadian television,' CanComp, 137, Jan 1979

- contributor, chair of editorial committee. Making It: The Business of Film and TV Production in Canada (Toronto 1987)

'Louis Applebaum reflects on 40 years of promoting Canadian arts,' CanComp 236 Dec 1988

'Arts funding,' The Canadian Encyclopedia

'Film music,' Music in Canada

Notes on film music in J of Aesthetics and Art

Criticism and reviews for Film Music Notes

Further Reading