Burton Kurth

Burton (Lowell) Kurth. Singer, educator, b Buffalo, NY, 27 Apr 1890, d Victoria, BC, 8 May 1977.

Kurth, Burton

Burton (Lowell) Kurth. Singer, educator, b Buffalo, NY, 27 Apr 1890, d Victoria, BC, 8 May 1977. He studied in Winnipeg with Herbert Witherspoon and, 1920-4, Francis Fisher Powers; in New York with Witherspoon, Joseph Regneas in 1931, and William Brady; and in Chicago, summers, with Theodore Harrison. He moved to Winnipeg in 1909 and married the contralto Olive Quast in 1917. He taught singing in Winnipeg and was organist-choirmaster successively at St Andrew's United, Broadway Baptist, and Young United churches. In 1921 he founded the St Cecilia Ladies' Choir, which sang Debussy's La Damoiselle élue in 1923 with the Minneapolis SO. He moved to Vancouver in 1929 to be organist-choirmaster at Chown United Church. In 1937 he became supervisor of music for Vancouver schools and, in the same year, conducted the first CBC trans-Canada broadcast from Saskatoon. In Vancouver he founded and conducted 1943-9 the CBR Singers (CBC Vancouver), a group that collaborated on occasion with Arthur Benjamin and the CBC Vancouver Chamber Orchestra. Kurth prepared and conducted (25 Dec 1946) the North American premiere of Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols; the pianists were Phylis Dilworth (Inglis) and Phyllis Schuldt. After retirement from the school board in 1955 he continued vocal teaching; his choirs often won the George S. Mathieson Trophy. Kurth composed many songs, published by Western Music, for use in schools and compiled, in collaboration with Mildred McManus and Murray S. Cormack, Little Songs for Little People (Clarke, Irwin 1943), Music Makers (Western Music 1945), Sing Me a Song (Dent 1956), and We Like to Sing (ibid 1959). He also wrote Sensitive Singing (Oakville 1973), a book of advice for young singers.

Further Reading

  • History of Music in British Columbia