After brief medical studies at Masaryk U in Brno, Walter returned to Berlin. However, Berlin in the late 1920s had little to offer to yet another pianist-composer from the provinces. Always resourceful, he developed his talent for writing about music. He contributed to Melos, and by the early 1930s he was associated actively with two influential left-wing periodicals: Die Weltbühne (as music editor) and Vorwärts (as music critic). Because of his political allegiances Walter was forced to leave Berlin in 1933, escaping to Majorca, where he studied folk music, learned three new languages (at one time or another he could converse in four or five languages as well as Latin and Greek), and taught. In 1936, at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, he fled to England. There he was engaged in folk music research at Cecil Sharp House and became acquainted with Ralph Vaughan Williams, Imogen Holst, Maud Karpeles, and other eminent folk scholars.
In 1937 Walter accepted a teaching offer from Upper Canada College, Toronto, travelling on a British passport hastily arranged in the absence of any other acceptable document. He taught at Upper Canada College until 1943 and then freelanced before taking a special assignment at the TCM in 1945 to implement the Ernest Hutcheson Report for the reorganization of higher music education in Toronto. Walter established the Senior School as the TCM's advanced studies department and initiated the opera school (see University of Toronto Opera Division, COC). In 1946 he introduced a degree program, the first of its kind in Canada, to prepare music teachers for positions in elementary and secondary schools. After extensive correspondence with the composer-methodologist Carl Orff, Walter was directly responsible for the introduction by Doreen Hall of courses in Orff's teaching method at the RCMT (1955), the first such courses anywhere in North America. Hall had studied with Orff in Salzburg in the previous year on a scholarship arranged by Walter and she collaborated 1952-68 with Walter in the preparation of English-language versions of Orff's teaching manuals (see Orff-Schulwerk).
With the University of Toronto's 1952 reorganization of the various music departments under its control Walter became director of the Faculty of Music, with responsibility for all degree programs and for the diploma previously awarded by the Senior School. His tenure 1952-68 as director was a period of extraordinary growth. Academic programs were strengthened, and new programs added at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Under his direction the University of Toronto music library was expanded into the largest of its kind in Canada and one of the finest in North America, and an electronic music studio, the first in Canada, was inaugurated. Both were housed in the new Edward Johnson Building, which he also had helped to plan.
During this time Walter's activities took on national and international dimensions as well. He served as president of the Canadian Music Council 1965-6, the Canadian Music Centre 1959 and 1970, and CAUSM 1965-7 and as chairman of the editorial board of the Canadian Music Journal 1956-62. He was president of ISME 1953-5 and of the CIDEM (Inter-American Music Council) 1969-72. All of these organizations owed their existence in some degree to his efforts.
Many of Walter's ideas were in advance of their time, and some of his attempts to turn vision into reality met with strong opposition and resentment. An aura of controversy often surrounded his activities. Everything he undertook seemed geared to the unfolding of a master plan for music in Canada, a plan conceived in the first few years after his arrival. At the root of this plan was an awareness that the development of talent, which he found to be abundant, and the development of the market for this talent had to go hand in hand. This required conscious direction, through education of both musicians and audiences, through public and private subsidization, and through group action channelled within strong organizations. He never voluntarily surrendered control of a project until he felt it was secure, and his greatest legacy may well be the institutions he thus helped to create.
Although Walter composed intermittently throughout his life, it could not be said that he was pre-eminently successful in this field. His aesthetic was primarily that of pre-World-War-I Europe, and he seemed not to want to move away from the terrain of Mahler and Strauss, of Debussy and Scriabin and the young Schoenberg. As much of this music was unfashionable and even unknown in Toronto, Walter's compositions struck many listeners as lacking in the dynamism and forward thrust that characterized so many other areas of his life. His works never gained wide acceptance, despite the efforts of friends and colleagues to promote them, and this was a source of great disappointment to him.
In a sense, his best creative energies were invested in teaching and in his many essays, articles, and lectures. His writings, liberally sprinkled with quotations from the world's great authors and thinkers, reflect an enormous erudition. His composition pupils included such diverse musical personalities as Paul McIntyre, Phil Nimmons, and Clermont Pépin. In his teaching and especially in his writing, he sought repeatedly to emphasize the place of music in society and the debt society owes to music. At the time of his death, he was working on a book on music in a technological age.
Of his many honours and awards, he valued particularly the Christian Culture Medal given by Assumption College (Windsor, Ont) in 1945 to 'an outstanding exponent of Christian ideals.' In 1972 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 1974 the concert hall of the Edward Johnson Building, University of Toronto, was named Walter Hall in his memory, and the Arnold Walter Memorial Award for performance students was established by the university. His papers are deposited at the National Library of Canada. His status as an associate is maintained at the CMCentre.
For the Fallen (Binyon). 1949. Sop, SATB, orch. Ms
Concerto for Orchestra. 1958. Full orch. Ms
Sonatina for Cello and Piano. 1940. Ms
Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano. 1940. Ms
Sonata for Violin and Piano. 1940. Ms
Suite for Piano. 1945. OUP 1956
Sonata for Pianoforte. 1950. GVT 1951
Summer Idyll (collab Myron Schaeffer, H. Olnick). 1960. Tape. 1967. Folkways FM-3436
Other works in all categories. Also several scores for radio plays
'The composer in search of freedom and progress,' The Kenyon Review, vol 5, Winter 1943
'Music a means to unify mankind,' CRMA, vol 3, Apr-May, Jun-Jul, Aug-Sep 1944
'Canadian composition,' Music Teachers National Association Proceedings (Pittsburgh 1946)
- et al. 'Music, fine arts and drama in Canadian higher education,' The Humanities in Canada, ed Kirkconnell and Woodhouse (Ottawa 1947)
'Toward Canadian opera,' Here and Now, vol 1, May 1948
'Music education on the North American continent,' Food for Thought, vol 14, Feb 1954
'Carl Orff,' CMJ, vol 1, Autumn 1956
- and Hall, Doreen, transls. Music for Children by Carl Orff (Mainz 1956-61)
'A Canadian pattern,' 'Problems of patronage in a democratic society,' 'Music in a technological age,' CMJ, vol 1, Spring 1957
'The International Society for Music Education,' 'Elementary music education - the European approach,' CMJ, vol 2, Spring 1958
'In memoriam: Edward Johnson,' 'Music and electronics,' CMJ, vol 3, Summer 1959
'A musical journey to Japan,' CMJ, vol 6, Autumn 1961
'Music education in Canada,' International Musician, May 1962
Music and the Common Understanding, University of Saskatchewan Lecture 9 (Saskatoon 1966)
- ed. Aspects of Music in Canada (Toronto 1969)
'The growth of music education,' Aspects of Music in Canada/'Le développement de l'éducation musicale,' Aspects de la musique au Canada
'Orff Schulwerk in American education,' Inter-American Music Bulletin, May 1970
'A composer's story,' CanComp, 77, Feb 1973
'Education in music,' Music in Canada, ed MacMillan (Toronto 1955)
Author Paul McIntyre
'Dr. Arnold Walter retires as Music Faculty director,' CanComp, 26, Feb 1968
Weinzweig, Helen. 'Dr. Arnold Walter honoured by friends, colleagues, alumni,' CanComp, 29, May 1968
Ridout, Godfrey. 'Aspects of Arnold Walter,' CanComp, 38, Mar 1969
Mercer, Ruby. 'Arnold Walter,' OpCan, vol 10, May 1969
Seiffert, Elaine Brown. 'Arnold Walter: his contribution to music education in Canada 1946-68,' M MUS thesis, University of Western Ontario 1980
Creative Canada, vol 1
Contemporary Canadian Composers/ Compositeurs canadiens contemporains
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