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Walter Homburger reflects on his remarkable career

The Story

After a very busy 25 years as managing director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, will Walter Homburger even know how to slow down? His friends don't think so, he says -- "but I want to prove to them that I can." He's retiring from the TSO next year and is looking forward to taking life "just a little bit easier," he tells CBC Radio host Vicki Gabereau. In this 1986 interview, they chat about Homburger's immigration to Canada, his time at the TSO, and his working relationship with musical genius Glenn Gould.

Medium: Radio
Program: Gabereau
Broadcast Date: April 11, 1986
Guest: Walter Homburger
Host: Vicki Gabereau
Duration: 21:26

Did You know?

• Walter Homburger was born in Germany in 1924 and came to Canada in 1940.

• He began managing artists and presenting concerts shortly after coming to Canada. He managed such talented musicians as Glenn Gould, Victor Braun and Jan Rubes.

• Homburger was Glenn Gould's first manager, working with him from the 1940s until the 1960s. He was responsible for bringing Gould to perform in the Soviet Union in 1957. This trip is considered a significant point in Gould's career because he was the first North American pianist to perform in the Soviet Union since the Second World War. The reception he got there was unprecedented, and Gould became an instant phenomenon in Russia.

• Homburger became managing director of the TSO in 1962. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, he guided the orchestra's affairs "with a decisive blend of shrewdness and caution which attracted criticism from the musical avant-garde but kept growth constant and attendance strong through years of great economic challenge."

• When he retired from the TSO in 1987, a grand star-studded concert was held to celebrate the occasion at Toronto's Roy Thompson Hall. It was called the "Great Gathering" and was broadcast on both CBC Radio and TV. It netted more than $2.3 million for the Toronto Symphony Foundation.

• After retiring from the TSO, Homburger continued to stay active in the classical music world. Notably, he became the manager for the renowned young Canadian violinist James Ehnes in 1993.




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