Kallmann received informal piano lessons from his father, an amateur musician, until he emigrated to England in 1939. After a brief period of study in London with Margery Moore (piano) and the Canadian Russell E. Chester (theory) he was interned as a German citizen in 1940 in England and 1940-3 in Canada. In Toronto in 1944 he had piano lessons from Naomi Adaskin, and from Greta Kraus 1944-5, and Florence Steinhauer 1947-8. His main teachers 1946-9 in the school music course at the University of Toronto were Richard Johnston, Robert Rosevear, and Arnold Walter.
Kallmann worked 1950-70 in the CBC Toronto Music Library and in 1962 became its supervisor. In 1970 he was appointed chief of the newly created Music Division at the National Library of Canada, where his responsibility was the building of an all-embracing collection of musical Canadiana, which soon became a centre for research in its field. He also pioneered in planning musical exhibitions, from one on Healey Willan (1972) to one on Glenn Gould (1988). His retirement from the National Library in 1987 inspired the Festschrift Musical Canada: Words and Music Honouring Helmut Kallmann, edited by John Beckwith and Frederick A. Hall (Toronto 1988).
Kallmann assisted a number of international music dictionaries to include or correct Canadian entries. He served on the editorial boards of the Canadian Music Journal and the Canada Music Book. He was a co-founder of the Canadian Musical Heritage Society. With James Bannerman he wrote a CBC historical radio series, 'Music in Canada' (13 broadcasts in 1965; French adaptation by Andrée Desautels). His editorial responsibilities have included the Canadian League of Composers' Catalogue of Orchestral Music (Toronto 1957) and Giles Bryant's Healey Willan Catalogue (Ottawa 1972). His private and job-related work helped to facilitate the establishment of Canadian music courses at universities and encouraged others to undertake or continue historical research and to perform older Canadian music. He was a director 1970-1 and a vice president 1971-6 of the Canadian Music Council, honorary historian of the Canadian League of Composers, and in 1975 was appointed honorary adjunct professor (later adjunct research professor) at Carleton University. He was awarded the Canadian Music Council Medal in 1977 and was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1986. The Canadian Association of Music Libraries named its distinguished service award for Kallmann in 2000, and he was the 2006 recipient of the CMC/CLC Friends of Canadian Music Award.
Catalogue of Canadian Composers, revised, enlarged ed (Toronto 1952)
'Audio-visual aids to music education in Canada,' International Society for Music Education series Technical Media in Music Education (1957)
'Kanada,' Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (MGG) (Kassel 1958)
'From the archives,' The Canadian Music Journal, Summer 1958
'From the archives: organs and organ players in Canada,' The Canadian Music Journal, Spring 1959
- ed. Directory of Degree Graduates, University of Toronto Music Alumni Association (Toronto 1964)
A History of Music in Canada 1534-1914 (Toronto 1960, 1969, with amendments 1987)
'Music in Canada,' CBC Times, 15-21 May 1965; abridged repr as 'Themes in Canadian history,' The Toronto Conservatory of Music Bulletin, Winter 1966
'Composition in Canada: 1867-1967,' Toronto Telegram, special advertising section, 28 Jan 1967
'Music in Canada, 1867, a long glance backward'/'Musique au Canada en 1867,' Musical Canada, 3, Jul-Aug 1967
'Music,' Canadian Annual Review, ed John Saywell (Toronto 1968, 1969, 1970)
'Beethoven and Canada,' The Canada Music Book, 2, Spring-Summer 1971
'Music in Upper Canada,' The Shaping of Ontario (Belleville, Ont, 1985)
'Canada and the music of the Grand Siècle,' Musical Canada, 58, Dec 1986
- ed. The Canadian Musical Heritage, Vol 8: Music for Orchestra I (Ottawa 1990)
'Music history,' Canadian Encyclopedia
'The Canadian League of Composers in the 1950s: the heroic years,' Célébration
'Historical background,' Music in Canada; rev in Aspects of Music in Canada
"Mapping Canada's music: A life's task," in Music in Canada/La Musique au Canada, Vol 1, ed. Guido Bimberg (Bochum 1997)
- ed. Ex-Internees Newsletter Sep 1996 - Feb 2004. 10 issues.
Articles for the Canadian Encyclopedia, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Dictionary of Contemporary Music, Encyclopedia Canadiana, Harvard Dictionary, MGG, The New Grove Dictionary, The New Grove Dictionary of American Music
Reviews in The Varsity (University of Toronto), Canadian Association of Music Libraries Newsletter, Canadian Music Journal, Canadian Library Journal, Canadian Literature, University of Toronto Quarterley
Program note essays for Ten Centuries Concerts
Record album notes for Joseph Quesnel's Colas et Colinette and Lavallée's The Widow
Kallmann, Helmut. 'Mapping Canada's music: A life's task,' Music in Canada/La Musique au Canada: A Collection of Essays, ed Guido Bimberg (Bochum, Germany, 1997)
A complete list of Kallmann's writings from 1949 to June 1987 appears in Musical Canada
See also Bibliography; Libraries; Musicology.
See also Bibliographies for Canadian League of composers; Canadian Musical Heritage Society; J.P. Clarke; Conductors and conducting; Criticism; Dictionaries; Germany; Glackemeyer; Libraries; National Library of Canada; 'O Canada'; Opera performance; Periodicals; Piano building; Publishing; and Joseph Quesnel.
Elliott, Robin. 'Canadian music,' Queen's Quarterly, vol 96, Spring 1989
Keer, Dawn. 'Helmut Kallmann: an account of his contribution to music librarianship and scholarship in Canada,' MLIS thesis, University of Alberta 1991
Links to Other Sites
Sheet music from Canada's past
A very extensive collection of digitalized copies of sheet music published before Confederation and during the First World War. Includes patriotic and parlour songs, piano pieces, sacred music, novelty numbers, and more. Also, check out the sheet music covers that appear in the Gallery section. From Library and Archives Canada.
Friends of Canadian Music Award
The website for the Friends of Canadian Music Award, a joint venture between the Canadian League of Composers and the Canadian Music Centre that honours those who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to Canadian composers and their music.
The Helmut Kallmann / Canadian Association Of Music Libraries Award
The website for the Helmut Kallmann Award for Distinguished Service relating to music libraries and archives in Canada. From York University.
Besides hockey and the maple leaf, there is little as symbolically Canadian as the CBC – the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It grew out of a developing nation's need to express its identity and find its voice.