Little Symphony of Montreal | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Little Symphony of Montreal

​The Little Symphony of Montreal was a chamber orchestra active from 1942 to 1952.

The Little Symphony of Montreal was a chamber orchestra active from 1942 to 1952. It was founded by Bernard Naylor (its first conductor) and Mrs. Graham Drinkwater after the demise of the Montreal Orchestra to complement the large-orchestra repertoire of the Société des Concerts symphoniques de Montréal.

Conductors and Soloists

Naylor conducted the symphony until 1948. He was followed by George Schick, who conducted from 1948 to 1950. Carl Bamberger served as chief conductor in 1950–51. The position of assistant conductor and concertmaster was held successively by Maurice Onderet, Pierre Iösch and Alexander Brott. Guest soloists included Maureen Forrester, Doris Killam, Frances Magnes, Raffaele Masella, Ross Pratt, Jan Rubes, Franz Rupp, George Schick and André Turp.


The symphony’s first concert, on 8 December 1942 at the Hermitage, featured works by Mozart, Corelli, and Gossec. Over the course of its 10-year existence, the orchestra gave 82 concerts comprising some 245 separate works, including 41 by Mozart (three, including Bastien and Bastienne and the Coronation Mass, as part of the Montreal Festivals of 1945), 23 by Haydn, 16 by Handel, 12 by Beethoven and 11 by Bach.

The orchestra also gave the Canadian premieres of Martinu's Sinfonia concertante (13 February 1950) and Tcherepnin's Concerto da camera for flute, violin, and orchestra (26 May 1952) with Hervé Baillargeon (flute) and Alexander Brott (violin). Other composers whose works were performed include Bartók, Britten, Brott, Copland, Elgar, Hindemith, Mica, Poulenc and Vaughan Williams. Some concerts were broadcast by the CBC.