Denis Brott | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Denis Brott

Denis Brott. Cellist, teacher, b Montreal 9 Dec 1950. He first studied 1959-67 at the CMM with Walter Joachim and in the summers 1963-8 with Zara Nelsova at the Aspen Festival in Colorado.

Brott, Denis

Denis Brott. Cellist, teacher, b Montreal 9 Dec 1950. He first studied 1959-67 at the CMM with Walter Joachim and in the summers 1963-8 with Zara Nelsova at the Aspen Festival in Colorado. Subsequent teachers were Janos Starker 1968-71 at the University of Indiana and Gregor Piatigorsky 1971-5 at the University of Southern California. Brott served for a time as Piatigorsky's assistant. With the aid of bursaries from the Canada Council he also spent some time completing his training with Leonard Rose in New York, Maurice Gendron in Paris, and André Navarra in Siena.

In 1967 Brott won first prize in the Merriweather Post competition in Washington and was a winner of the MSO Concours, making his debut with the orchestra in November in the Dvořák Concerto. In 1969 he won another first prize at a competition for young artists in Odessa, Texas; and in 1973 in Munich, at the 22nd International Music Competition of the radio organizations of the Federal Republic of Germany, he obtained second prize in the cello category. He made his Zurich debut 23 Apr 1976, and the following day the Neue Züricher Zeitung reported 'a new star in the cello sky.' In Canada Brott has performed frequently with the orchestras of Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, and other cities in recital, on JMC (YMC) tours 1967-8 and 1969-70, and on CBC TV and radio. Abroad he was soloist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (1974), the Orchestre de la Suisse romande, and the BBC Welsh Orchestra. He participated in the Marlboro Festival, Vermont, 1972-5, where he took master classes with Pablo Casals. In 1974 at the Salle Claude-Champagne in Montreal he premiered Psalmody, a work for solo cello dedicated to him by his father, Alexander Brott. In 1976 he played with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra in Montreal, conducted by his brother Boris, as part of the Arts and Culture program of the Olympics. During the 1978-9 season he performed works of Schubert with the violinist Charles Treger and the pianist André Watts on a North American tour. He was the cellist 1980-9 of the Orford String Quartet with whom he made some 20 recordings, and principal cellist of the McGill Chamber Orchestra 1989-1997. As of 2001, Brott was principal cellist of the QSO.

Brott took part in many festivals, including the Marlboro, Aspen, Sitka, Orford, Festival of the Sound, Ottawa Chamber Music, and Winnipeg New Music festivals. He continued to appear as soloist with the McGill Chamber Orchestra, eg, in Vivaldi's Double Cello Concerto in G Minor with Yo-Yo Ma in 1997. He also appeared as guest soloist with the Amadeus Ensemble and the Tokyo String Quartet.

In 1987 he played an important role in the establishment of the Canada Council Musical Instrument Bank, which lent him the Tecchler 1706 cello, the first acquisition of this bank. He later served on the bank's jury.

Brott taught 1975-7 at the University of North Carolina at Winston-Salem, 1978-80 at the Interlochen Arts Academy, Michigan, at the RCMT beginning in 1978 (as artist in residence 1990-1), where he coached the St. Lawrence String Quartet; at the University of Toronto 1980-9; and at the Oberlin College Conservatory 1990. From 1989 he was professor of cello and chamber music at the CMM. He taught at California's Music Academy of the West 1993-2001, and at the Piatigorsky Seminar for Cellists 1997. He served on juries for the CBC Young Performers Competition, the 1993 Evian International String Quartet Competition, 1996 and 1998; and gave master classes in Canada and the USA.

Brott was artistic director of the Festival of the Sound in 1991. In 1995 he founded the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, which as of 2002 he continued to direct. As conductor, Brott guest-conducted the McGill Chamber Orchestra, and was conductor of Les Jeunes Virtuoses. In the USA he conducted concerts of the New West Symphony.

Brott was named a Knight of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1992.

See also Lotte (b Goetzel) (his mother).


'Orford Quartet on the Road - barely,' University of Toronto Magazine, Autumn 1988

'Schelomo, Le message du roi Salomon,' Revue du Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, May 1996

'Analysis of the three sonatas for piano and cello of Brahms,' liner notes, Analekta FL 2 3009

'So you want to start a festival, do you?' Ensembles Canada, Spring 2001

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