Alexander BROTT


Alexander BROTT 1915-2005

1993 Cultural Cultural

Long acknowledged as Canada’s prime example of the total musician (conductor, composer, violinist), Alexander Brott has served the cause of music in Montréal as concert-master and assistant conductor of the Montréal  Symphony orchestra, as professor of music and conductor in residence at McGill’s Faculty of Music and as a composer.

His compositions have been played all over the world by such outstanding conductors such as Leopold Stokowsky, Otto Klemperer, Pierre Monteux, Sir Thomas Beecham and more recently Charles Dutoit, among others. All his compositions (over 100) have been commissioned, performed and recorded. Notable among these are “From Sea to Sea” commissioned by the CBC, representing the five main regions of Canada. As well as “Concordia Salus” (Montréal Coat of Arms) reflecting on the multi-cultural characteristics of his native city. At the request of CBC, Alexander Brott carried out research in the manuscripts of Ludwig van Beethoven, transcribing the works for the composer’s bicentennial. He undertook a similar task in honour of the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach. An anthology of his music has been published by Radio-Canada International.

Dr. Brott was the founder of the Montréal Pops Concerts and was active conductor of the Kingston Symphony Orchestra for 15 seasons. He also conducted some of the major symphony orchestras in Europe, Mexico and Israel. He was a first prize winner of the International Conductor’s competition at Bellas Artes in Mexico.

In 1939, Dr. Brott founded the McGill String Quartet with his wife, cellist Lotte Brott. The Quartet later became the famous McGill Chamber Orchestra, which has brought together some of Montreal’s finest musicians presenting series of concerts with world renowned soloists. As the orchestra’s Musical Director, he made it a point of honour to commission original works by Canadian and Québec composers. These works were presented on the radio as world premieres and were recorded by Mr. Brott and his orchestra.

With the financial help of the Department of External Affairs, he toured with the McGill Chamber Orchestra: the United States, the Soviet Union, Switzerland, Belgium, Mexico, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and most recently the Yukon.

In recognition of his outstanding contribution to Canadian music, Alexander Brott has received numerous awards and tributes. He holds Honorary Doctorates in music from the University of Chicago, McGill University and Queen’s University. He was awarded the Gold Medal from the Sir Arnold Bax Society, the Gold Medal from International Who’s Who, the medal from the Canadian Music Council for his contribution to music in Canada and the Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee Medal. He was named Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, member of the Order of Canada, Knight of the Ordre national du Québec, Knight Commander of Merit of the Order of Malta as well as Knight of Humanity in the Ordre souverain de la milice du Saint-Sépulcre in Australia. He was twice awarded Olympic medals for composition, in Helsinki and London.
A new compact disc with the McGill Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of his son Boris Brott, has most recently been released. It features the following compositions by Alexander Brott: “Violin Concerto” with soloist Angèle Dubeau, “Arabesque” for cello with his other son Denis Brott as soloist, “Seven Minuets and Six Canons” by Beethoven orchestrated by Alexander Brott and his “Paraphrase in polyphony”. The two latter works are directed by the composer.