Peggie Sampson | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Peggie Sampson

Peggie (b Margaret) Sampson.

Sampson, Peggie

Peggie (b Margaret) Sampson. Viola da gambist, cellist, teacher, b Edinburgh 16 Feb 1912, d Toronto, 17 May 2004; naturalized Canadian 1973; B MUS (Edinburgh) 1932, Licence de Concert (École normale, Paris) 1932, D MUS (Edinburgh) 1961, honorary LLD (Wilfrid Laurier) 1987, honorary D LITT (York) 1988. She began cello lessons at eight with Ruth Waddell in Edinburgh and continued with Guilhermina Suggia in London and Portugal. She was a pupil 1929-32 and teaching assistant 1937-44 of Donald Francis Tovey at the University of Edinburgh and studied summers 1930-4 in Paris with Diran Alexanian (cello) at the École normale and with Nadia Boulanger (theory) privately. During the 1930s she gave recitals in England and Holland, performed the Elgar Concerto under Tovey, and played in the Glyndebourne Festival orchestra under Fritz Busch. She also studied intermittently 1935-7 with Emanuel Feuermann and ca 1946 with Pablo Casals in Prades (1946). She was a freelance cellist 1944-51 in London, giving recitals and playing in the Carter Trio.

Sampson emigrated to Canada in 1951 to teach theory, history, and cello at the University of Manitoba and remained in that post for 20 years. She also taught cello privately in Winnipeg and in 1962 received a special grant from the University of Manitoba to set up an experimental class for gifted children. (She had spent a year 1960-1 in Great Britain completing a doctorate in performance and studying new methods of music education for the young.) Several participants in this class - Stephen Cera, Laurie Duncan, Mayda Narvey, Dace Stauvers - subsequently entered the profession. Her cello pupils in Winnipeg included Gisela Depkat, John Derksen, Kenneth Murphy, Paul Pulford, and Lynn Rudiak. Sampson was extremely active as a cellist in Winnipeg during the 1950s and 1960s, appearing as solo recitalist, as a member of the Corydon Trio (with Lea Foli and Gerald Stanick), and in various ensembles for the University Chamber Music Group.

Around 1960 Sampson developed an interest in the viola da gamba and collaborated with Christine Mather in founding the Manitoba University Consort (1963-70). By the end of the 1960s the gamba had superseded the cello as her main instrument. In 1970 she joined the staff at York University, Toronto, to teach theory and develop a program for viols. Probably the foremost viola da gambist of her day in Canada, she was sought after for recitals and for performances of the obbligatos in the Bach Passions, playing the latter with several Ontario choirs and in 1973 in a TV performance in Madrid. Invited three times to the Aldeburgh Festival, she gave recitals there in 1972 and (in the Maltings, with George Malcolm) in 1976, and also participated in the 1974 festival. She appeared in the Connoisseur Series (1975) at St Lawrence Centre, Toronto, in a concert billed as 'Peggie Sampson and Friends.' With the Hart House Consort of Viols she and some of her students gave a series of recitals 1976-7 at Hart House using historical viols loaned by University of Toronto's Hart House. During the 1977-8 season she appeared as a soloist at York University, Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Guelph, and the University of British Columbia and in the Toronto Spring Festival. She performed in Holland and in Canada with Les coucous bénévoles. She taught 1973, 1974, and 1975 at the University of Victoria Summer School and, after retiring in 1977 from York University, taught part-time 1977-84 and on occasion thereafter at Wilfrid Laurier University. She also played and taught at the 1977 Conclave of the Viola da Gamba Society of America in Baltimore.

Sampson premiered works of S.C. Eckhardt-Gramatté (Duo concertante for cello and piano, 1959), Bernard Naylor (On Hearing Mrs. Arabella Hunt Singing, 1970), Murray Adaskin (Two Pieces, 1972), David Rosenboom (The Seduction of Sapientia, 1975) and Rudolf Komorous (At Your Memory the Transparent Tears Fall like Molten Lead, 1976). All save the Eckhardt-Gramatté were commissioned by Sampson - the Naylor privately, the others with Canada Council grants - to pioneer a modern repertoire for the viola da gamba. In 1976 she formed Quatre en Concert - Christine Harvey (soprano), Michael Purves-Smith (oboe), Deryck Aird (violin) - to perform music of the 17th and 18th centuries. They toured Ontario in 1976, from Montreal to Saskatoon in 1977, and Holland in 1978. Their last professional engagement was to record music by Purcell, Jenkins, Campra, Rameau, and Handel in 1981 (Damzell DLM-812).

Sampson was awarded the Canadian Music Council medal in 1985.


'Creative music for children,' Sharps and Flats, vol 3, Jan, Mar, Jun 1963

Selected Discography

Eckhardt-Gramatté Duo concertante; Suite No. 6 - Tovey Elegiac Variations. Irons piano. (Ca 1966). RCI 224/RCA CCS-1018

Handel - Bach - Locke. Redekop-Penner harpsichord. 1969. CBC SM-110

Ortiz - de Chambonnières - Schenk - Cabezon - Couperin - anonymous. Redekop-Fink harpsichord. 1974. CBC SM-229

Ortiz - Schenk - Buxtehude - Marais - Bach - Bloch. Redekop-Penner harpsichord. 1968. CBC SM-69

Rosenboom The Seduction of Sapientia - M. Adaskin Two Pieces for Solo Viola da Gamba - Sampson Improvisation on a Theme from Tobias Hume. 1976-7. Music Gallery Editions MGE-7

Works for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord: Marin Marais - Tobias Hume. S. Shapiro harpsichord. (Ca 1977). Orion ORS-74162

Viola da Gamba Suites: Marin Marais - S. Shapiro, Harpsichord. (2006) Marquis Classics Distribution EMI

Further Reading