|The Adaskin Family
University of Saskatchewan Archives, Murray Adaskin Fonds
One of Canada’s Greatest Musical Families of the 20th Century
Harry Adaskin 1901 1994, Violinist, Teacher, Broadcaster
Murray Adaskin 1906 2002, Composer, Teacher, Violinist, Conductor
John Adaskin 1908 1964, Conductor, Radio Producer, Administrator, Cellist
Plaque location: Inside the Lobby of the Wellesley Community Centre, 495 Sherbourne Street
Harry Adaskin, the elder brother of Murray and John was born in Latvia in 1901, and was an infant when his parents emigrated to Canada and settled in Toronto. All three brothers studied with the first conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Luigi von Kunits. Harry Adaskin’s teaching career began when he started instructing violin students privately in Toronto. He then taught at Upper Canada College from 1938-41, and at the TCM until 1946. He moved on to become the first head of the University of British Columbia’s new music department, retired as head in 1958, but continued to teach there until 1973.As a performer, Mr. Adaskin played with many different string quartets. In 1926 he married pianist Frances Marr, and the couple performed the premieres of several Canadian works. They toured Canada, the USA, Great Britain and Europe, and performed often for CBC radio.Harry Adaskin was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1974.
Murray Adaskin, an orchestral and chamber musician, played with the TSO, 1923-36, and with the Royal York Hotel Trio, 1938-52. He married soprano Frances James who was a pioneer in the presentation of 20th-century music in Canada. In 1952 he was named head of music at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, and Frances taught voice until they both retired in 1973. He was also conductor of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, 1957-60. They later moved to Victoria, where both continued to teach privately and at the University of Victoria, and the Victoria Conservatory of Music. Murray Adaskin was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1980.He received the Saskatchewan Arts Board’s Lifetime Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1991.
John Adaskin played cello 1926-35 in broadcasting orchestras and in the TSO 1926-38. As head of John Adaskin Productions, he produced the popular series “ Singing Stars of Tomorrow”, and “Opportunity Knocks”, and many other programs for CBC. He was married to Naomi Granatstein. The John Adaskin Project continues his work in promoting Canadian educational composition and preserving Canada’s concert music heritage, and the ongoing struggle of composers to earn a living from their work. The John Adaskin Memorial Fund was established in 1979, and supports projects that promote and develop Canadian music in schools in Canada.
The contributions of the Adaskin family have been exceptional; this is truly a family of musicians for all Canadians to celebrate.
University of Saskatchewan Archives, photograph A-7093