Ruff, Herbert

Herbert (Alexandre) Ruff. Pianist, accompanist, conductor, composer, b Idaweiche, near Breslau, Germany (which became Wroclaw, Poland), 16 Sep 1918 (or 1916, unconfirmed), naturalized Canadian 1958, d Montreal 19 May 1985. Herbert Ruff took piano lessons 1924-8 in Vienna from Lotte Kleine and studied for two years at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin with Walter Gieseking (piano) and Paul Graener (composition). At 13 he left the conservatory to devote himself to jazz and light music, without however abandoning serious music. With the help of the composer Theo Mackeben, he began ca 1933 a career as film composer, working at first in Germany and then in Switzerland and Czechoslovakia. In Asia 1939-52 he worked for Radio Hong Kong and taught at the Nanking Conservatory (piano and composition 1947-52). In 1951 the Arts Council of Great Britain commissioned his Sonata in D for piano and violin (Attar 1966).

Ruff arrived in Montreal in 1952 and was hired shortly afterwards as pianist and composer by the CBC. His assignments were chiefly in children's TV series, some of which - 'Sol et Gobelet,' 'Grujot et Délicat,' 'Nic et Pic,' and 'Picotine' - enjoyed international acclaim. In 1968 he was awarded the BMI trophy for best composer of children's music, in recognition of both the quality and the quantity of his output (more than 1000 programs), and a BMI certificate of honour for the best TV signature tunes.

Herbert Ruff wrote some 30 concert works, including Variations on a Scottish Theme, Rhapsody for piano and orchestra, and Trio for clarinet, viola, and piano, as well as dance music. He composed the music for the film Saint François d'Assise, which in 1962 was awarded a first prize by Catholic TV in Monte Carlo, and music for film documentaries for various provincial government departments and for Quebec Hydro. He wrote the music for more than 2000 songs (including 'C'est dans l'temps du Carnaval,' lyrics by Gilles Vigneault) and was involved in the renaissance of the Quebec chanson, collaborating on recordings by Pauline Julien and Jacques Labrecque.

In 1973 Ruff made four LPs on the Fantel label: Picotine (FA-39401), Nic et Pic vol 1 (FA-39402), Fanfreluche (FA-39404) and Piccolo (FA-39405); in 1974 he recorded Tante Paule raconte à Pascale (TRR-4001); and, in 1975, he made Thèmes musicaux avec l'Oncle Herbert (FA-39411) with Mario Duschesnes (recorder). Ruff also recorded the music of a second album titled Piccolo (London MB-20).

See also Discography for Jean Carignan