Frank Welsman | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Frank Welsman

Frank (Squire) Welsman. Conductor, teacher, pianist, b Toronto 20 Dec 1873, d at his summer home, Lake Joseph, Muskoka, Ont, 2 Jul 1952.

Welsman, Frank

Frank (Squire) Welsman. Conductor, teacher, pianist, b Toronto 20 Dec 1873, d at his summer home, Lake Joseph, Muskoka, Ont, 2 Jul 1952. He studied violin and piano at the Toronto College of Music and attended the Leipzig Cons 1894-7, working with Martin Krause (piano) and Gustave Schreck and Richard Hofmann (theory). Later, also in Germany, he studied piano with Arnold Mendelssohn. On his return to Toronto he began a career as a pianist, playing in Canadian cities from Quebec to Victoria, and taught at the Toronto College of Music. In 1906 he joined the staff of the TCM. After 1907 he virtually abandoned his career as a pianist, though he continued to play chamber music. In 1914 he founded the Welsman Studio Club, which for more than 10 years presented bi-weekly piano music programs by students and teachers at the TCM. In 1908 the Toronto Conservatory Symphony Orchestra, which he had organized two years previously, became the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (identified throughout EMC as the Welsman TSO to distinguish it from the later TSO) and survived until 1918. He also conducted the Anglo-Canadian Leather Company Band in Huntsville, Ont, during the summers of 1923 and 1924. In 1918 he left the TCM to teach at the Canadian Academy of Music, and in 1922 he became the latter's music director. However, in 1924 when the two institutions amalgamated, he returned to the TCM and remained on staff until his retirement in 1951.

Welsman's pupils included Roy Angus, G.D. Atkinson, Margaret Miller Brown, Percy Faith, H.K. Jordan, and Kate Bryce Marquis Nelson. He was music director 1928-31 of Alma College in St Thomas, Ont, and often crossed Canada as an examiner and a festival adjudicator. He composed several songs and instrumental pieces - eg, a Minuet for piano (Whaley Royce 1900) and Two Songs (Church 1904). Undoubtedly, however, his main contribution was the establishing of Toronto's first relatively durable symphony orchestra, a group which more than any other prepared the ground for the future TSO.

Two of Welsman's grandchildren are musicians. John Welsman (b Toronto 1955) studied composition privately with Samuel Dolin and Milan Kymlicka and has composed television and film scores for shows produced in Canada and the USA. His sister Carol Welsman (b Toronto 1959) is a jazz singer and pianist who has performed in Toronto and Europe.

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