Toronto String Quartette
Toronto String Quartette (Toronto String Quartet). Three independent ensembles of the same name active respectively 1884-7, in 1894, and from 1906 to the mid-1920s.
The Toronto Quartette Club, formed to enlarge public interest in chamber music, sponsored a series of five concerts (winter 1884) by a Toronto String Quartette, with Henri Jacobsen and John Bayley as the regular violins, a Mr Martens (either Carl or Theodore) as viola, and a Mr Kuhn as cello, and assisted on one occasion by a Mr Whitaker, double-bass. The following season the same players, augmented by F.H. Torrington, A.E. Fisher, a Mr Haslam, and a Mr Daniels, presented Mendelssohn's Octet for Strings among other works. The 1885-6 season offered a series of 12 Monday Popular Concerts and a change in personnel: A.E. Fisher, viola, and Ludwig Corell, cello. The program contained works by Schumann, Beethoven, and Haydn, as well as the Mozart Clarinet Quintet, with a Herr Kegel of New York as the clarinet, and piano trios of Hummel and Reissiger with Carl Martens as pianist. Teresa Carreño and Emma Juch were among the other guest performers at these concerts. In 1886, to ensure the continuation of the quartet, A.&S. Nordheimer and some Toronto citizens organized the Chamber Music Association, which sponsored the 1886-7 series of six concerts at Shaftesbury Hall. However, in spite of popular acceptance, the quartet was forced to disband in September 1887 when Corell and Jacobsen moved to the USA.
A second Toronto String Quartette, with Messrs Bayley, Anderson, Napolitano, and Dinelli, is reported in the Musical Courier (31 Dec 1894) as performing for a small but appreciative audience.
1906 to mid-1920s
The third Toronto String Quartette presented its first concert 23 Jan 1907. Frank Blachford was the first violin throughout its existence. The other original members, Roland Roberts, Frank Converse Smith, and Frederic Nicolai, were replaced by Benedict Clarke (1914), Erland Misener (1923), and Albert Aylward (1924), second violins; Alfred Bruce (1923) and Erland Misener (1924), violas; and Leo Smith (1914), cello. The quartet disbanded for the 1916-17 season and may have remained inactive until 1920. In addition to its regular concerts the group performed for the Women's Musical Club of Toronto (1909) and in many Ontario towns, and presented musicales in private homes in Toronto, Buffalo, and other cities. Its repertoire ranged from Haydn to Hugo Wolf and Debussy. It played the String Quartet by Luigi von Kunits (twice) and a folksong arrangement by Smith, and gave the Canadian premieres of works by Glazunov, Dohnányi, and Elgar, among others. Guest pianists included Ernest MacMillan, Paul Wells, Frank Welsman, and Healey Willan (1916 in his Trio, B98).