Canadian Music Centre/Centre de musique canadienne | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Canadian Music Centre/Centre de musique canadienne

It was founded 1 Jan 1959 by the Canadian Music Council with grants from the then recently formed Canada Council and CAPAC. The centre has also received grants from the MACQ, the OAC, PRO Canada, SOCAN, and the governments of British Columbia and Alberta.

Canadian Music Centre/Centre de musique canadienne

 Canadian Music Centre/Centre de musique canadienne (Centre musical canadien 1959-73). A non-profit, non-governmental library and information centre for the dissemination and promotion of Canadian concert, operatic, educational, and church music.

Inception of CMC

It was founded 1 Jan 1959 by the Canadian Music Council with grants from the then recently formed Canada Council and CAPAC. The centre has also received grants from the MACQ, the OAC, PRO Canada, SOCAN, and the governments of British Columbia and Alberta. The first office was in Toronto; a Montreal office was opened in 1973. Presidents of the centre have been Arnold Walter in 1959 and again in 1970, Sir Ernest MacMillan 1959-70, John Peter Lee Roberts 1971-3, Jean Papineau-Couture 1973-4, Keith Bissell 1974-7, Paul Baby 1977-81, J. Eric Ford 1981-4, and Allan G. Bell 1984-8, succeeded by Claude Lafontaine in 1988. The position of general manager (changed in 1978 to director general and ca 1981 to executive director) has been held by Jean-Marie Beaudet 1959-61, John Adaskin 1961-4, Keith MacMillan 1964-77, John Peter Lee Roberts 1977-81, John Miller 1981-6 and Simone Auger 1986-1999. Elisabeth Bihl assumed the position in 1999. In 1973 Louise Laplante became associate executive secretary responsible for the Montreal office.


Early in 1976 the centre underwent a restructuring preparatory to the development of regional centres. The original centre (Toronto) became the national headquarters with Keith MacMillan as its first general manager. The Montreal centre became the Quebec regional centre under the direction of Louise Laplante, succeeded by Mireille Gagné 1981-2011, and then by Sonia Pâquet. In 1977 a British Columbia regional office was opened in Vancouver under the direction of Christine Callon, succeeded in 1978 by Colin Miles and by Bob Baker in 2009. In 1980 a Prairie regional office, under the direction of Christine (Callon) Purvis, was established in Calgary to serve Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. Clare Richman was Prairie regional director 1981-8, succeeded in 1988 by John C. Reid, who continued to hold the position in 2011. The Ontario regional office was established in Toronto in 1983 with David Julien as regional director. He served 1983-9, but was seconded to the International Year of Canadian Music office 1985-7, during which period Marnie Hare Rand was interim regional director. Patricia Green was regional director 1989-90, succeeded by David Parsons, 1990-2000, Sheldon Grabke, 2000-2003, and Jason van Eyk, 2003-2011. In 1984 the national headquarters moved into Chalmers House, a Victorian home in downtown Toronto which was purchased and refurbished with funding from Joan Chalmers, in honour of her parents Floyd and Jean Chalmers.

CMC Operations

Though the centre's main task is the promotion of Canadian music, it also provides a variety of information services, administers several organizations' scholarships to young composers, and offers services in copying and reproduction to professional composers. In addition to these services, the CMC owns the recording label Centrediscs featuring only works by Canadian composers, many which have won Juno Awards and nominations. Distribution services are also a part of the CMC's business of promoting music by Canadian composers, along with synchronization licensing and print publishing of scores. The CMC also owns the Clifford Ford Publications catalogue of early Canadian music.

From the 300-odd scores collected and catalogued by the Canadian League of Composers and a small library contributed by the CMC, the Toronto centre's circulating library of published and unpublished scores has grown to 21,250, most of which are also in the regional libraries. The national and regional libraries contain extensive reference collections which do not circulate but may be listened to at any of the centres. In 2008 with the creation of Centrestreams, more than 20,000 archival recordings were made available for free listening on the CMC website. The centres also keep files of program notes and dossiers on composers. The national library was named the Ettore Mazzoleni Library in 1986, and the Prairie Region library was named the Violet Archer Library in 1987.

Associate composers of the CMC have special status and are chosen by a selection committee appointed by regional juries. The associateship is applied for, and the applicant must be demonstrably a serious career composer and a Canadian citizen living in Canada or abroad, or a landed immigrant. The centre also has granted associate status posthumously to several notable composers and maintains the associateship of deceased composers whose works it holds. In 2011 there were 777 associate composers. The centre makes photocopies of unpublished works of associate composers for its libraries, and, with the composers' permission, for other libraries and for individuals at cost; it may in some instances pay copying costs to ensure first performances and will act as a composer's rental agent for unpublished orchestral works. In 1988, with the aid of the Canada Council, the CMC inaugurated a computerized music copying and editing program to assist composers and copyists in producing scores and parts. In 1989 the CMC assumed the administration of the Canada Council's copying fund.

The CMC acts as a liaison between composers and publishers, commissioning agencies, performing organizations, and recording companies. In addition it has helped develop guidelines for a Canada Council music publication subsidy program. In 1967 - Canada's centennial year - it negotiated 44 of the more than 100 commissions of Canadian works. In 1963 it began to select and commission Canadian music for school use through its John Adaskin Project. It also co-operates with such organizations as Contemporary Showcase and the CMEA which promote Canadian music for students. The centre advises several award-granting bodies, presents displays and lectures (in Canada and abroad), and has participated in international exchanges of contemporary music, especially through the International Association of Music Information Centres (IAMIC) (a working commission of the International Association of Music Libraries), of which the centre's former executive secretary, Keith MacMillan, was named secretary in 1964 and president in 1976. In 2011, Elisabeth Bihl, the CMC's executive director, was acting as IAMIC's vice president. Among the significant projects undertaken and developed by the CMC during the 1980s were the International Year of Canadian Music in 1986, Centrediscs, the Canadian Music Centre Distribution Service, the Imperial Oil McPeek Pops Library Collection, the Seagram Orchestral Samplers (orchestral repertoire packages), Creating Music in the Classroom (Ontario regional office), the McCurdy Commissioning Programme (Prairie regional office), and the publication of numerous reference guides by the Quebec regional office. The centre's efforts have contributed to a marked increase in the performance of Canadian music and to a growing recognition of Canada's composers.

CMC Awards

The CMC administers several awards, including the CMC/Canadian League of Composers Friends of Canadian Music Award (FCMA) honouring those who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to Canadian composers and their music, and the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music administered on behalf of the Canada Council to encourage the creation of new chamber music and to foster its performance by Canadian chamber groups. Prominent recipients of the FCMA have included Véronique Lacroix (2009), Christina Petrowska Quilico (2007), Dr Helmut Kallmann (2006), and Mary Gardiner (2003). Léger prize winners have included Chris Harman (2007, 2001), Yannick Plamondon (2002), Bruce Mather (1993), and Walter Boudreau (1982). CMC regional offices may also offer regional awards.

CMC Outreach

The CMC has continually devised ways to reach people and keep them informed about current activities. These include regional online newsletters and a searchable online database on their website, which it expanded in 2011 to provide more efficient searches on composers and their music, announcements, calendar listings, and CMC recordings. The centre also employs social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter to reach its audiences.

Educational Resources

The CMC has an ongoing array of educational resources available for teachers that include online and multimedia materials as well as interactive microsites that are directed toward different age groups. These include Sound Adventure (for young children); Sound Progression (music through the 20th century); and Influences of Many Musics, which explores multicultural influences. The CMC also offers group visits through its CentreVisit program, which can be arranged through the regional offices. The regional offices also offer free subscriptions to their publications to music educators. In 2010, the CMC partnered with the Alliance for Canadian New Music Projects (ACNMP) for its Contemporary Showcase online syllabus (one of the most complete collections of Canadian contemporary music for educational use), offering easy access to scores and parts.


Report on the John Adaskin Project Policy Conference (Toronto 1968)

John Adaskin Project: Towards New Music in Education (Toronto 1968)

Reference Sources for Information on Canadian Composers (Toronto 1970, suppls 1974, 1975)

Contemporary Canadian Composers, ed John Beckwith and Keith MacMillan (with OUP, Toronto 1975)

Cherney, Brian. Harry Somers (with University of Toronto Press, Toronto 1975)

Billette, Gaby. À l'Écoute de la musique d' ici: Kékoba de Gilles Tremblay (Montreal 1976)

Compositeurs canadiens contemporains, ed Louise Laplante (with Les Presses de l'UQAM, Montreal 1977)

Shand, Patricia. Canadian Music: A Selective Guidelist for Teachers (Toronto 1978)

- Musique canadienne: oeuvres choisies à l'intention des professeurs (Toronto 1982)

Adams, Stephen. R. Murray Schafer (with University of Toronto Press, Toronto 1983)

Eastman, Sheila and McGee, Timothy J. Barbara Pentland (with University of Toronto Press, Toronto 1983)

Guérin, François. À l'Écoute de la musique d'ici: les musiques électroacoustiques (Montreal 1983)

Ridout, Godfrey and Kenins, Talivaldis, eds. Célébration (Toronto 1984)

Maxwell, Karen. A Guide to Solo Canadian Trombone Literature Available through the Canadian Music Centre (Toronto 1985)

Shand, Patricia. Graded List of Unpublished Canadian Band Music Suitable for Student Performers (Toronto 1985)

- Graded List of Unpublished Canadian String Orchestra Music Suitable for Student Performers (Toronto 1985)

Stubley, Eleanor. Graded List of Unpublished Canadian Brass Chamber Music Suitable for Student Performers (Toronto l985)

Bail Milot, Louise. Jean Papineau-Couture: la vie, la carrière et l'oeuvre (with Hurtubise HMH, Montreal 1986)

Shand, Patricia. Guidelist of Unpublished Canadian String Orchestra Music Suitable for Student Performers (Toronto l986)

- Guidelist of Unpublished Canadian Band Music Suitable for Student Performers (Toronto 1987)

Stubley, Eleanor. A Guide to Unpublished Canadian Brass Chamber Music Suitable for Student Performers (Toronto 1989)

- A Guide to Solo French Horn Music by Canadian Composers (Toronto 1990)


Compositeurs au Québec. All published in Montreal: Gilles Tremblay (1974), François Morel (1974), Jean Papineau-Couture (1974), Bruce Mather (1974), André Prévost (1975), Serge Garant (1975), Micheline Coulombe Saint-Marcoux (1975), Roger Matton (1975), Pierre Mercure (1976), Jacques Hétu (1978), Claude Champagne (1979), Otto Joachim (1980), Jean Vallerand (1981), Guillaume Couture (1982)

14 British Columbia Composers (Vancouver 1978)


Orchestral and Band
Catalogue of Orchestral Music at the Canadian Music Centre/Catalogue des oeuvres disponibles au centre musical canadien (Toronto 1963, suppls 1968, 1971)

Catalogue of Canadian Music Suitable for Community Orchestras, compiled by Jan Matejcek (Toronto 1971)

Canadian Compositions for Band (Toronto 1973)

Catalogue of Canadian Music for Orchestra/Catalogue de musique canadienne pour orchestre (Toronto 1976, supplement 1979)


Music Across Canada, Feb-Aug 1963

Newsletter/Bulletin de nouvelles, Sep 1964-Dec 1965

Musicanada, May 1967-Jun 1970

Canadian Music Centre Newsletter. British Columbia CMC 1978-81

Centregramme. British Columbia CMC newsletter, 1981-

Prairie Sounds. Prairie Region CMC newsletter, Sep 1980-

CentreNotes. Ontario Region CMC newsletter, Jul 1983-1986

Competitions and Calendar. Ontario Region CMC, 1986-1989

Notations. Ontario Region CMC newsletter, Oct 1989-

Alternance. Quebec Region CMC bulletin, Jun 1989-


Canada on Records: Some Recordings of Works by Canadian Composers, special issue Musicanada, 26, Jan-Feb 1970; suppls 1974, 1976


Canadian Chamber and String Orchestras/ Orchestres de chambre et orchestres à cordes canadiens, Oct 1971

Various Canadian Music Publishers, annual listing, Oct 1971-

Canadian Symphony Orchestras/ Orchestres symphoniques du Canada, Oct 1971

Youth Orchestras in Canada/ Orchestres des jeunes au Canada, Nov 1971

Summer Music Courses/ Cours d'été en musique; National Youth Orchestra/ Orchestre national de la jeunesse du Canada, 1972

List of Music Critics, Columnists, etc, Sep 1972

Women's Musical Clubs: 1972-73 season, Sep 1972

List of University Schools of Music, Conservatories and Music Schools in Canada/ Liste des écoles universitaires de musique, conservatoires et écoles de musique au Canada, Oct 1975

Canadian and International Competitions/ Concours canadiens et internationaux, Apr 1976, Jul 1976

Canadian Operas Available from the Canadian Music Centre, 1979

Canadian Music Inspired by the Music, Poetry, Art and Folklore of Native Peoples, 1979

Beatty, Carolyn and Hand, Mark, eds. Directory of Associate Composers, 1989


Catalogue of Chamber Music/Catalogue de musique de chambre (Toronto 1967, suppls 1971, 1976; 2nd edn 1980)


Catalogue of Canadian Keyboard Music/Catalogue de musique canadienne à clavier (Toronto 1971, supplement 1976)

Canadian Music Featuring Saxophone (Toronto 1972)


Catalogue of Canadian Choral Music (Toronto 1966, enlarged 1970)

Catalogue of Canadian Choral Music/Catalogue de musique chorale canadienne (Toronto 1978)


Canadian Vocal Music/Musique vocale canadienne (Toronto 1971, rev edn 1976)


Catalogue of Microfilms of Unpublished Canadian Music (Toronto 1970)

New works accepted into the library of the Canadian Music Centre from January 1, 1982 to December 31, 1982 (Toronto 1983)

Almanac 1983 (Toronto 1984)

A list of works added during the year to the CMC library began to be published annually in 1984.

Further Reading