End of an era as Winnipeg composer Robert Turner dies at the age of 91
Posted by SCENE Staff | Friday January 27, 2012
Robert Turner receives Order of Canada from Adrienne Clarkson (supplied by Sara Scott Turner)
The "dean" of Manitoba composers, Robert Turner passed away on January 26th at the age of 91.
One of Canada's most distinguished and respected composers, Robert Turner wrote over 70 compositions, from symphonic and chamber music to opera. His works were performed across North America by conductors such as Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Sergiu Commissiona, Charles Dutoit, Simon Streatfeild and Bramwell Tovey.
"Bob was a composer rooted in the environment where he lived," says Sid Robinovitch, Turner's friend and fellow composer. "His music is of the land and of the heart."
Composer Robert Turner (supplied by Sara Scott Turner)
He was born in Montreal on June 6, 1920. He studied music at McGill University, where he later received his Doctorate of Music. He also studied at Colorado College, where he met Sara Scott, a composition student whom he later married.
He became a music producer at the CBC in 1952 in Vancouver, where he stayed for over a decade, recording live concerts of classical and contemporary music.
In 1968 he joined the University of Manitoba School of Music as a professor. In that role, he had a profound effect on a whole generation of composers including: Glenn Buhr, T. Patrick Carrabré, David R. Scott, Holly Harris, Diana McIntosh and Ron Paley.
Turner retired from teaching in 1985 and became Professor Emeritus of Music at the University of Manitoba. After that he continued composing and wrote some of his finest orchestral works, including Shades of Autumn, Third Symphony and Manitoba Memoir.
To mark his 70th birthday, the Winnipeg Symphony under Bramwell Tovey performed five of his works during the 1990 season.
On the occasion of his 90th birthday, the WSO performed his Shades of Autumn, under the direction of Alexander Mickelthwate.
Turner won many accolades and awards through his career, including a Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada (1993), the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal (2003) and was appointed to the Order of Canada (2003).
He also won a Western Canadian Music Awards Heritage Award in 2009.