Paul Hoffert | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Paul Hoffert

Paul (Matthews) Hoffert. Composer, arranger, keyboardist, vibraphonist, producer, researcher, b Brooklyn, NY, 22 Sep 1943, naturalized Canadian 1961; B SC (Toronto) 1966. Paul Hoffert began piano studies at age nine.

Hoffert, Paul

Paul (Matthews) Hoffert. Composer, arranger, keyboardist, vibraphonist, producer, researcher, b Brooklyn, NY, 22 Sep 1943, naturalized Canadian 1961; B SC (Toronto) 1966. Paul Hoffert began piano studies at age nine. After moving in 1956 to Toronto he studied composition 1957-63 with Gordon Delamont and vibraphone briefly with Hagood Hardy and began playing piano and vibraphone in 1960 at local jazz clubs. With Bernie Piltch (alto saxophone), Carne Bray (bass) and Archie Alleyne (drums), he recorded The Jazz Roots of Paul Hoffert (Chateau CLP-1002) in 1961. While studying math and sciences at the University of Toronto, he was music director 1963-5 of CBC TV's 'Time of Your Life.' He then worked at the National Research Council with Hugh Le Caine. In 1968 Hoffert co-founded Lighthouse with Skip Prokop, and until 1974 he served as the band's piano, organ, and vibraphone player, thereafter pursuing a career as a composer, arranger and record producer in Toronto.


Stage, Film, and TV
Paul Hoffert's compositions include the musicals Get Thee to Canterbury (1968, co-written with Mark Shekter and produced off-Broadway in New York) and Hogtown (1981, co-written with Tom Hendry and produced in Toronto); scores for such feature films as Winter Kept Us Warm (1965), The Groundstar Conspiracy (1971), It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time (1974), Outrageous (1977), Third Walker (1978), Circle of Two (1979), Paradise (1981), Fanny Hill (1983), Universe (1985), and Eddie and the Cruisers II (1990); incidental and theme music for TV dramas, documentaries, and series; and themes for Home Box Office's 'The Hitchhiker' (1984) and CTV's 'Canada AM' (1992-8). Until the late 1990s, film and television scoring remained an important part of Hoffert's output. He composed themes for "Bravo!" (1996) and "CityPulse News" (1997-8); scores for TV series, such as "Catwalk" (1992-3), "Strangers" (1994), and "Freaky Stories" (1997); and scores for films such as the National Film Board's OCD: The War Inside (2001). Hoffert also has written several pieces for jazz group, songs for Lighthouse, and many jingles.

Concert Works
Paul Hoffert's concert works include Ballet High (1970, for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Lighthouse) and Sweet Summersaults (1976, for Toronto Dance Theatre); as well as Concerto for Contemporary Flute (1975), premiered by Moe Koffman; Violin Concerto (1976), premiered and recorded by Steven Staryk under the composer's direction; and Israel, premiered 4 Jun 1978 by the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. His concert music output, never a focal point of his creativity, has since slowed, with only two works written since 1990, Hidden Channel (1991, opera) and Noah (1995, multimedia dance work).


Performing has remained an important part of Paul Hoffert's career. He reunited with Lighthouse in 1992, and independently created a number of live performances on telephone and digital networks, for example, the Cyber Soirée (1996), SMART Toronto (1999), and Supercomputing (2001).

On the classical side, Hoffert conducted the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in concert with Lighthouse; directed a Toronto studio orchestra in a recording of Maury Yeston's musical Goya (Col SKX-40680, issued in 1989) with Placido Domingo, Dionne Warwick, and others; conducted the Prague Opera Orchestra in 1996; and collaborated at the piano with Bramwell Tovey in Winnipeg (2000) for Liszt's Second Hungarian Rhapsody.

Digital Research

The most far-reaching of Paul Hoffert's interests has been the field of digital research. Though he started by working at the National Research Council (1969-71), Apple (1977-82), and on various digital music projects throughout the 1980s, it was the advent of the Internet that gave impetus to his work. He founded and directed the CulTech Research Centre at York University (1992-2000). Through this and other initiatives he was among the first to work on broadband user applications; digital licensing (through IVY, 1993-9, one of the first systems for delivery and tracking of digital property on the Internet); music-on-demand portals (Jukeboxx, 1995-2000); multimedia classroom applications; and, more recently, the Digital Music Exchange (DMX), a peer-to-peer service that allows a direct file-sharing community to exist without copyright infringement. Hoffert is a frequent keynote speaker, known for incisive observations on the impact of technology on artistic creation and its dissemination.

Teaching, Publications, Appointments

Paul Hoffert was director of music 1975-7 at the Blue Mountain School of Music, Collingwood, Ont, and in 1976 at George Brown College, Toronto. He is the author of The Hoffert Guide for Synchronizing Music (Toronto 1980) and became an adjunct professor, film composition (later adding film and cultural studies) at York University in 1984, and research professor at Sheridan College. He was a founder and 1981-3 chairman of the Canadian Academy of Cinema and Television (and executive producer of the CTV telecasts of its Gemini Awards in 1985 and 1986) and president 1987-2000 and chairman from 2000 of the Guild of Canadian Film and Television Composers.

Hoffert has held many board positions, serving the Canadian Independent Record Production Association (1970-5); the Canadian Performing Rights Society (1984-90); the Ontario Arts Council (1994-7); and the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada (1998-2003), among others. He was a faculty fellow at the Harvard Law School 2005-7. In 2006, he became CEO of Noank Media, an online distribution community.

Awards, Recognition

Of Paul Hoffert's many awards, notable are his induction into the Canadian Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1995); an Arts Medal from the Ontario Arts Council (1997); and his appointment as Member of the Order of Canada (2004). His score for Outrageous (with his wife, Brenda, lyricist, b Toronto 1944) won at the Canadian Film Awards in 1977. Hoffert's paper archives are kept at York University, while his musical instrument and technology archives are held by the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

Selected Works

Concert music. Rock group and orchestra. 1969

Concerto for Contemporary Flute. Flute and orchestra. 1975

Concerto for Contemporary Violin. Violin and orchestra. 1976

Israel. Tenor, choir, harp and percussion. 1978

Spring. String quartet and rock group. 1980

Musical Theatre
Get Thee to Canterbury. 1967

Marat Sade. 1969

Prometheus Bound, with Irene Worth. 1971

Hogtown. 1981

Hidden Channel. Opera. 1991

Ballet High. Rock group and dance. 1969

Sweet Summersaults. 1976

Noah. Multimedia and dance. 1995

Film and Television Soundtracks
Sweet Summersaults. 1976

"Strangers" (with D. Hoffert). 1994

Elvis Airborne (with D. Hoffert). 1994

Theme for Bravo! (with D. Hoffert). 1996

"Freaky Stories" (with D. Hoffert). 1997

Theme for "CityPulse News" (with D. Hoffert). 1997-1998

OCD: The War Inside. 2001

Music Scores
Groundstar Conspiracy. 1970

Sunday in the Country. 1974

Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time. 1975

Outrageous. 1975

The Third Walker. 1977

The Newcomers. 1978

Highballin'. 1978

Shape of Things to Come. 1979

Double Negative. 1980

Circle of Two. 1980

Crossover. 1981

Tales of the Haunted. 1981

Firebird. 1981

Paradise. 1982

A Matter of Cunning. 1983

Blood and Fire: 100 Years of the Salvation Army. 1983

The Last Sailors. 1983

Golden Promise. 1984

Neighbours. 1984

Streetwise. 1984

Bedroom Eyes (with John Tucker). 1984

Vengeance Is Mine. 1984

Heavenly Bodies. 1985

"The Hitchhiker." 1985-1993

Magic Planet. 1985

Fanny Hill. 1986

Hoover Versus the Kennedys: The 2nd Civil War. 1987

Pygmalion. 1987

Eddie & the Cruisers II. 1989

Mister Nice Guy. 1990

Music theme for the Family Channel. 1991

"Catwalk." 1992-1993

Music theme for "Canada AM." 1992-1998

"Hidden Room" (with D. Hoffert). 1993

Selected Discography

The Jazz Roots of Paul Hoffert. Chateau. 1961

Suite Feeling. Lighthouse. 1968. RCA Records

Lighthouse. Lighthouse. 1968. RCA Records

One Fine Morning. Lighthouse. 1969. GRT Records

Peacing It all Together. Lighthouse. 1969. RCA Records

One Fine Light. Lighthouse. 1970. RCA Records

Thoughts of Movin' On. Lighthouse. 1970. GRT Records

Live at Carnegie Hall. Lighthouse. 1971. GRT Records

Sunny Days. Lighthouse. 1972. GRT Records

Best of Lighthouse. Lighthouse. 1974. GRT Records

Concerto for Contemporary Violin. Steven Staryk - violin, Hoffert - conductor. 1977

Outrageous. Original cast recording. 1977. Polygram Records

I Lost My Pet Lizard. Lizard People. 1979. Teddy Records

Sunny Days Again. Lighthouse. 1989. Denon Records

Eddie & the Cruisers II (Original Soundtrack). 1989. Sony Records

Goya. Placido Domingo. 1989

Oh What a Feeling. Lighthouse and others. 1996. MCA Records

Song of the Ages. Lighthouse. 1996. Universal Music Group

Aura Borealis. Aura. 1998. Rully Records


Hoffert Guide to Synchronizing Music (Toronto 1982)

Understanding Music in Media (Toronto 1987)

with Peter Roosen-Runge. Inventory of Internet Technologies and Services (Ottawa 1996)

with Peter Roosen-Runge. Internet Technologies Primer (Toronto 1997)

The Bagel Effect: A Compass to Navigate Our Wired World (Toronto 1998)

All Together Now: Connected Communities: How They Will Revolutionize the Way You Live, Work, and Play (Toronto 2000)

The New Client: How Customers Shape Business in the Information Age (Toronto 2002)

Music for New Media: Composing for Videogames, Websites, Presentations, and other Interactive Media (Boston 2007)

"Sound exciter," Minds in Motion, Spring 1990

"Film and television music," The Jazz Scene, reprinted in Songwriter, Jan 1991

"Information super-hypeway," Computer Information Magazine, Mar 1994

"Reaching consumers on the infoway," Canadian Advertising, Nov 1994

"Designing the info highway to be a road well-travelled," Globe and Mail, 29 Dec 1994

"Jerry Garcia was an enigma wrapped in a riddle," Now Magazine, 17-23 Aug 1995

"Funding artists enriches all of us," Toronto Star, 24 Jun 1996

"The bytes behind the biz," Film Canada, Jun 1988, reprinted in Minds in Motion, Fall 1998

"Block party," Saturday Night, 15 Jul 2000

"Composers get collective bargaining," Playback Magazine, Nov 2003

"Copy rights and wrongs," Copyright and New Media Law Newsletter, Dec 2003

"Rethinking Canadian cultural policies," Blizzart, Vol. 10 No. 2, Winter 2006

Numerous articles in Spotting Notes, Guild of Canadian Film Composers, 1996- .

Further Reading

External Links