Toronto, Ontario, Canada

24th Season

Benjamin Britten: Death in Venice

Please note the new date!

There is a strange mystique that seems to surround composers’ final works. Pieces such as Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Wagner’s Parsifal immediately spring to mind. When it comes to the final operatic utterance of one of Great Britain’s foremost 20th century composers, Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice offers a similar experience. This is a work in which various creative threads from throughout his life in music come together and find perhaps the most sophisticated expression of all his works for the stage.

For the program, we will have a chance to listen to excerpts from two commercially available recordings as well as the recent English National Opera production featuring Ian Bostridge as Aschenbach and selections from the DVD of a recent Glyndebourne production.

Toronto performance:

Death in Venice
Oct. 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31
Nov. 3 & 6, 2010
Four Seasons Centre, Toronto
Canadian Opera Company

Yoshi Oida, director
Steuart Bedford, conductor

Aschenbach: Alan Oke
Traveller & other six roles: Peter Savidge
Apollo: William Towerds



Janácek: Glagolitic Mass

Although Leoš Janácek is primarily remembered these days for outstanding operas like Cunning Little Vixen, The Makropulos Case, Jenufa or Kát’a Kabanová. I was interested to discover that from his earliest days he was immersed in church music. Because of crowded conditions in his home (he was the ninth child in a family of thirteen) he was sent to a monastery in Brno to become a chorister. Growing up in the school there, in later years he became choirmaster and composed liturgical music for the choir under his care.

Most sources indicate that in his adult life he declared himself an atheist. He once described organized religion as “concentrated death. Tombs under the floor, bones on the altar, pictures full of torture and dying. Rituals, prayers, chants — death and nothing but death. I don’t want to have anything to do with it”. At the age of 72 he decided to write a large-scale orchestral mass, namely The Glagolitic Mass. This setting can be considered to be similar to Verdi’s Requiem or Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms in that they are non-liturgical, that is, not intended for performance as part of a religious service.

Instead of choosing to set the traditional Latin setting he chose an Old Church Slavonic text. An article in Janácek’s local paper noted that the piece was actually inspired by an electrical storm he witnessed while on holiday.

The Glagolitic Mass was first performed in the composer’s home town of Brno on December 5, 1927 and in Prague on the April 8, 1928.

The program will be consist of selections from the Mass as well as works by other Czech composers.



Chopin in the 21st Century (Part 2)

Continuing the series of programs begun in our 2009/10 season and in celebration of the bicentennial of Chopin’s birth in 1810, our November 7 program will focus on two outstanding interpreters of this pianistic legacy — Louis Lortie and Maria-Joao Pires. Both made acclaimed recordings of this repertoire in the 1990s and have also taken the opportunity to revisit the music of Chopin in this anniversary year. Selections will be drawn from several different records to allow us to compare the approaches from their younger days and their most recent thoughts and find out what they offer to us in the 21st century.



BYOR — Renée Fleming

Gay music lovers seem to select a prima donna every decade to worship. Because of her popularity and grandeur, isn't Renee Fleming one of the most suitable talents to be an object of adoration in our time? Join us and share your recordings or DVDs of one of the most glamorous singers of the 21st century.



Christmas Party

Each year, the Classical Music Club Toronto holds a Christmas party for members and their guests. We hold the party to a FRIDAY night because Saturdays in December tend to be fully booked for many of the Classical Music Club Toronto members.

Details of location and how to RSVP are provided to members via electronic or traditional mail. This is a 'Pot Luck' party. To avoid duplicates, in your RSVP indicate the food you intend to bring. Your friends are welcome. Please bring your own drinks.

ANNUAL CD EXCHANGE: Please wrap a CD you would like to share with other members.



John Adams

Considered by many to be the pre-eminent living American composer, John Adams has been actively involved in creating music since the 1970s. Although the Pulitzer Prize winning composer began his career using so-called minimalist techniques, his work can now be safely called post-minimalist. Most recently, his music has been characterized by a strong rhythmic drive combined with always colourful orchestration. His compositions cover every conceivable genre including opera, choral music, song, and orchestral works. We are fortunate here in Toronto that the COC will be producing Nixon in China in February 2011. In May 2011, the TSO’s New Creations Festival will present four of his works: Short Ride in a Fast Machine, Harmonielehre, Tromba Lontana, and City Noir (this last work to be conducted by the composer). Our program will feature excerpts and complete performances of several of these works as well as other items to indicate the breadth and creativity of this important American composer.



Alexandre Tharaud, pianist

Acclaimed for his performances of the French keyboard music of Couperin and Rameau, Alexandre Tharaud has also been praised for his interpretations of Bach and Chopin.

In recognition of his February 22 recital with Music Toronto, the CMC program will consist of selections from several of his recent recordings, including his acclaimed Chopin CDs.



Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 “Eroica”

Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E flat major (Op. 55) was originally dedicated to Napoleon Bonparte. Beethoven’s assistant and pupil, Ferdinand Ries, reported that when Napoleon proclaimed himself Emperor, Beethoven tore the title page in half. A copyist’s manuscript page exists with the words “Intitulata Bonaparte” (“dedicated to Bonaparte”) scratched out, but four lines below that were later added in pencil the words “Geschriben auf Bonaparte” (“Written in honour of Bonaparte”.

The work is considered by musical authorities to be important in the history of the classical symphony for a number of reasons. First, it is much longer than earlier symphonies by Haydn or Mozart — almost twice as long. Indeed, the first movement by itself is as long as many Classical symphonies. Leonard Bernstein has noted that the far more emotional nature of the work can be seen to point to it as marking the beginning of the Romantic period in music.

The second movement marked “Marcia funebre: Adagio assai in C minor” has been used on memorial occasions, such as the commemoration of the death of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Bruno Walter performed the entire symphony at the memorial concert for Arturo Toscanini and it was also performed at the funeral of Felix Mendelssohn in 1847.

A selection of CDs and DVDs will be presented to illustrate different interpretations and approaches to this landmark of musical history.



Tan Dun

In anticipation of a return visit by contemporary Chinese composer Tan Dun to Toronto in May, we will have an opportunity to watch DVDs of two of his highly visual compositions for orchestra and unusual percussion instruments: Paper Concerto and Water Concerto. The composer himself says of these two works:

“We are surrounded by paper in our lives: our imaginations are captured and recorded in words or pictures, as we express newly discovered feelings about ourselves and the world around us. For a long time, I have been developing the idea of organic music, which embodies sounds of nature, water, paper, ceramics, and the mind. The environment is related to our lives, and spiritually, everything germinates from one seed of creativity.”

“Water is an element you can’t block. You can block land, you can say this is China and this is Russia, but water has no such frontiers. What I want to present … is music that is for listening to in a visual way, and watching in an audio way. I want it to be intoxicating. And I hope some people will listen and rediscover the life things, things that are around us but we don’t notice.”

We will also present excerpts from his opera Tea: A Mirror of the Soul.




An influential composer of the 19th and 20th centuries, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s reputation has fluctuated wildly throughout his career and in recent times. As recently as 1954 the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians dismissed his music as “monotonous in texture — consisting mainly of artificial and gushing tunes” and predicted that his success was “not likely to last”. Astonishingly, his Second Piano Concerto has consistently topped lists of favourite piano pieces and has been included on the soundtracks of such mid-century films as Brief Encounter (1945) and The Seven Year Itch (1955). Our Club program will provide an overview of various aspects of Rachmaninoff’s piano works.

Of related interest from the TSO:

Rachmaninoff and the Impressionists
June 1 - 8 pm
June 2 - 8 pm
June 4 - 8 pm
June 8 - 6:30 pm
June 9 - 8:00 pm
June 11 - 7:30 pm

A mini-festival of Rachmaninoff highlighting his relationship to the Impressionists will be presented in early June with pianists Gabriela Montero, Ilya Poletaev, and Yuja Wang. Music Director Peter Oundjian will lead the TSO.






Liszt's Pilgrimages

In 2011, we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Franz Liszt, one of the greatest pianists and composers of the 19th century.

In keeping with the Club's theme of Summer Journeys, we will be exploring the magnificent compilations of solo piano pieces known as the Années de Pèlerinage (Years of Pilgrimage). The prototype of the first section was written in 1835 and 1836 when the 24-year-old Liszt was travelling througout Switzerland, and was revised in 1842 for publication. In 1838 he started the second section, written as an evocation of the art and literature of Italy, and not completed until 1849. It was published in 1852. The third section, written between 1867 and 1877, was composed while Liszt was staying at the Villa d'Este in Tivoli, near Rome.

Louis Lortie, the Canadian pianist who will form the major part of this program, has been a major champion of Liszt and has, in a way, taken his own historic voyage through these pieces. He created the impressive recording of the Italy section only in 1990 at the earliest part of his career and returned to re-record the entire series in 2010.

Come and enjoy a virtuoso voyage of musical extravagance!


SunJul3All day

Booth at Pride Day Toronto 2011

Drop by our club´s booth on Pride Day, July 3, 2011

We´re with the community organisations, west side of Church, south of Gloucester

Club members will be there to answer your questions

And we will have some previously enjoyed CDs for sale.

Pride Toronto Official Web site


Les Indes Galantes by Rameau

Les Indes galantes is an opéra-ballet consisting of a prologue and four entrées (acts) by Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) with libretto by Louis Fuzelier. It is an example of the tremendous interest by Europeans in the exotic worlds of the mostly unknown Near East and the Americas. The première, including only the first three entrées, took place in Paris at the Académie Royale de Musique et Danse on 23 August 1735. At the revival of Les Indes galantes on 10 March 1736, the 30th performance of the work, a Fourth entrée was added. The complete work was played for the 185th and last time in 1761.

Les Indes galantes (1735-36)


In a Prologue Hebe and Bellona extol the pleasures of love.

Act 1: Le Turc généreux (The Gracious Turk)
Valere has been roaming the world seeking his love, Emilie, captured by Valere’s former servant Osman. When he finds them both, a repentant Osman releases his captive so that she may be reunited with her former lover.

Act 2: Les Incas du Pérou (The Incas of Peru)
Represents the rivalry of the Inca Huascar and the Spaniard Don Carlos, both in pursuit of Princess Phani. Wonderful eruption of a volcano is the central moment of this act.

Act 3: Les Fleurs (The Flowers)
A Persian love intrigue in which prince Tacmas is in love with his favourite, Ali’s, slave Zaire. Tacmas’s slave Fatime in turn is in love with Ali.

Act 4: Les Sauvages (The Savages of America)
Set in North America, where a Spaniard and a Frenchman compete for the love of Zima, daughter of a native chief, who prefers one of her own people.

The program will feature a charming DVD performance starring Patricia Petibon, Paul Agnew, and Danielle de Niese with the Ensemble of Les Arts Florissants under the direction of William Christie.



Grieg's Peer Gynt



B.Y.O.R. - Bring Your Own Recordings

Welcome to our annual opportunity for members to participate without the requirement of planning an entire program. Just bring along CD or DVD selections that you’d like to share with other club members (up to about 10-15 minutes in length). Here’s a chance to go through your collection, make some discoveries (or rediscoveries), and bring them along to the meeting. This will be an opportunity to update ourselves about the most recent recordings (especially important in a time when classical music releases seem to be fewer and fewer every month) and to get to know each CMC member’s musical passion.


Past Years:

Last Updated: Sunday October 1, 2023 at 1:55 pm