We need to pause every once and a while to remember the men and women who contributed so much when Canadian musical life was still in its infancy. Much of the most important work was done by a handful of Germans and Austrians who arrived in Canada against their will during World War II and stayed on to make the country their home.
Eric Koch (1919-) was one of them, and in a remarkable series of videos posted on YouTube he has articulated very well what it was like to be transplanted into a foreign country, and then to make it one’s own. Koch worked at the CBC most of his career and he has written many books both fiction and non-fiction. In this video he talks about three of his illustrious colleagues: Helmut Blume (1914-1998), John Newmark (1004-1991) and Franz Kraemer (1914-1999). As a young man I listened to Blume often on CBC Radio, and Newmark I saw and heard as a pianist and especially as an accompanist for Maureen Forrester. Kraemer I knew personally and admired him greatly as a producer of operas and concerts for CBC Television in the 1950s and 1960s. Later, he was artistic director of Toronto Arts Production, and later still he was the music officer of the Canada Council.
All three of these men were enormously influential and musical life in Canada would not have been the same without them. Thanks again to Eric Koch for reminding us of their contribution.
Paul E. Robinson