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Ken Winters, a CBC broadcaster with an encyclopedic knowledge of classical music, has died. ((Fred Phipps/CBC))

Ken Winters, a Canadian music critic and former host of CBC's Mostly Music, has died. He was 81.

Winters died Tuesday after a heart attack at his home in Orono, Ont., about 90 km east of Toronto.

Most recently a critic with the Globe and Mail in Toronto, Winters had written more than 400 reviews for the national newspaper since 1999. His final review — of a performance of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra — ran in Tuesday's edition.

He also was co-editor of the The Encyclopedia of Music in Canada, a meticulously researched source of information about music in Canada. Along with Helmut Kallmann and Gilles Potvin, Winters served as one of the editors of the original edition of the encyclopedia, which was started in the 1970s and first published in 1981.

Winters closely followed Canada's development as an innovator in classical music during the 20th century and both his radio documentaries and his criticism reflected his knowledge of the field.

He worked with CBC Radio for more than 40 years. He was a contributor and occasional host for the CBC radio show Mostly Music from 1981 to 1989. He officially stepped into the host's chair from 1989 to 1996.

During the 1980s, he also hosted programs such as Personalities in Music, Ken Winters on Music and Celebration of Genius,  and served as a contributor to Arts National and The Arts Tonight. Additionally, Winters created specials about the music of J.S. Bach and George Frideric Handel for CBC.

Musical background

Born in Dauphin, Man., Winters trained as a pianist and singer. In 1942, he won the boy soprano classes of the Manitoba Music Competition Festival and participated on a team of soloists that toured Ontario with the Winnipeg Sea Cadet Band.

During the 1950s he studied music in Winnipeg, composed songs and worked as a piano teacher and church organist .

According to The Encyclopedia of Music in Canada, Winters began writing music and dance reviews for the Winnipeg Free Press in 1956, while continuing to compose.

He moved to Toronto and served as music and dance critic for the now-defunct Telegram from 1966 until 1971. He also spent time as executive director of the Ontario Federation of Symphony Orchestras and, later, the Association of Canadian Orchestras.

Winters is survived by his wife, Anne Gibson.