DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

OBITUARY | Canadian Tenor Jon Vickers Dies at 88

By Michael Vincent on July 12, 2015

Roberta Knie, as Brunnhilde and Jon Vickers, as Siegmund, are seen in the San Francisco Opera's production of "Die Walkure" (The Valkyrie) in San Francisco.
Roberta Knie, as Brunnhilde and Jon Vickers, as Siegmund, are seen in the San Francisco Opera’s production of “Die Walkure” (The Valkyrie) in San Francisco.

Tenors are often expected to either have great voices, or brains. Jon Vickers had both.

According to a statement from Vickers’ family, the great Canadian heldentenor Jon Vickers, known as “God’s tenor”, died on Friday in Ontario after a lengthy struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Vickers started singing in church choirs in his hometown of Price Albert, Saskatchewan, and eventually landed in Toronto on a scholarship to study at the Royal Conservatory of Music.

By the mid-1950s, he sang at the Toronto Opera Festival, where local audiences took notice of his extraordinarily powerful voice.  The following year Vickers was in the Bayreuth festival as Siegmund in Die Walküre.

He made his debut role at the Metropolitan Opera in 1960 as Canio in Pagliacci and stayed for 22 seasons performing in over 17 roles.

Vickers was a consummate artist with a complex personality. The soprano Birgit Nilsson described him as “always unhappy,” and that his “nerves were outside the skin, not inside the skin,” (Jon Vickers: A Hero’s Life”). He was a proud Canadian and held fast to his Christian roots.

In 1977, Vickers pulled out of a production of Wagner’s “Tannhauser,” saying he considered it anti-Christian.

With a career lasting over three decades, Vickers earned devoted fans worldwide and was honoured with several honorary degrees, a companionship in the Order of Canada and two Grammy Awards. In an address to the graduating class of 1969 at the Royal Academy of Music in Toronto, Vickers said, “I sang because I had to.”

In 1988, Vickers retired with his wife, Henrietta, who later died in 1991. He spent most of his time on his rural farm in Ontario surrounded by nature and his family.

He is survived by a sister, five children, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

#LUDWIGVAN

Want more updates on Toronto-centric classical music news and review before anyone else finds out? Get our exclusive newsletter here and follow us on Facebook for all the latest.

Michael Vincent
Follow me

Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. He has worked as a senior editor for over fifteen years and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
Michael Vincent
Follow me

Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

THE SCOOP | Concours Musical International de Montréal Crowns A Winner

By Michael Vincent on June 6, 2019

American violinist Hao Zhou has been awarded First Prize prize at the 2019 Concours Musical International de Montréal.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

THE SCOOP | Mayor John Tory Proclaims June 14, 2019 Massey Hall Day

By Michael Vincent on June 13, 2019

Toronto Mayor John Tory has proclaimed June 14, 2019 “Massey Hall Day” in honour of the National Historic Site’s 125 birthday.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

THE SCOOP | Toronto Consort Appoints Two New Members

By Michael Vincent on June 11, 2019

The Toronto Consort has announced Cory Knight (tenor) and Esteban La Rotta (plucked instruments) will be joining the core ensemble as Artistic Associates.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.