Long-time friend to Canadian music, conductor Victor Feldbrill has died, aged 96.
Feldbrill was born in Toronto and studied music alongside pianist Glenn Gould at the Royal Conservatory of Music. He served as resident conductor, assistant conductor, and violinist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO), and was instrumental in developing the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO) as principal conductor.
He was the founder of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra and served as Conductor-in-Residence at the University of Toronto’s Music Department between 1968 and 1982. As a fervent supporter of local talent, he contributed to the careers of many Canadian composers including R. Murray Schafer and Harry Somers.
He last performed in Toronto as part of the TSO’s Canada 150 concerts in 2017.
“It seems incredible to me that the eternally young Victor Feldbrill is no longer with us,” says Sir Andrew Davis, Interim Artistic Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. “In our last lively conversation, I was taken back to our first meeting in 1974 after he had seen the TSO through a difficult period. His devotion to the Orchestra then and ever afterwards had great meaning for me. His championing of Canadian music was second to none, and many composers were and are indebted to his commitment and enthusiasm. Perhaps, above all, his positive and joyful outlook on life was an example to us all. He is much missed.”
Former WSO General Manager Leonard David Stone described Feldbrill as, “The only Canadian who held the podium for one of the country’s top orchestras for a decade. When he took it over, it was a glorified amateur orchestra. He gave us not only Canadian, but world premieres.”
Feldbrill has worked with countless luminaries, including violinists Yehudi Menuhin, Isaac Stern and David Oistrakh, pianist Glenn Gould and Claudio Arrau, and cellists Leonard Rose and Jacqueline du Pré.
He was the first recipient of the Roy Thomson Hall award in 1985, and made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1986.