Louis Applebaum

Louis Applebaum, composer, conductor, administrator (b at Toronto 3 Apr 1918; d there 20 Apr 2000). After studies at the Toronto Conservatory of Music and University of Toronto with Boris Berlin, Healey Willan and Sir Ernest MacMillan, Applebaum went to New York to study composition. By the mid-1940s he had moved to Hollywood, where his film scores were in great demand, but in 1949 he returned to Canada.

One of Canada's most prodigious composers, Applebaum wrote and conducted hundreds of scores for film, theatre, and for radio and TV drama. His concert pieces, ballets and fanfares, frequently commissioned, were always admired as strong and appropriate, qualities that reflected his awareness of the need for the artist to be pragmatic and conscious of developments in his art. In addition to his busy career as a working composer, Applebaum's administrative skills made him a consultant for organizations, including the National Film Board, the Canada Council and the CBC and for festivals such as the Guelph Spring Festival.

He served on numerous committees, such as CAPAC-Canadian Association of Broadcasters, for the promotion of Canadian music, and as an adviser on the formation of music faculties and opera and ballet companies.

He established the music wing of the Stratford Festival in 1995 and in 1965 chaired a government-commissioned committee whose report led to the formation of the National Arts Centre Orchestra. He was executive director of the Ontario Arts Council from 1970 to 1979, when he became co-chairman, with Jacques Hébert, of the Federal Cultural Policy Review Committee, which reported in 1982. Applebaum became vice-president of the Composers, Authors and Publishers Association in 1985, and president in 1988-90. In 1976 he was made an Officer in the Order of Canada.

In 1989 Louis Applebaum won a Gemini Award for best TV score, and was inducted into the Order of Ontario. In 1991 he was honoured as Arts Man of the Year, and was Artist in Residence at the University of Windsor. He received an Honorary Doctor of Humanities from the University of Windsor in 1994, and the following year was given the CARAS Juno, Special Achievement Award and was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. Applebaum received the first SOCAN Special Achievement Award in 1997 and in 1998 was given the Diplôme d'honneur by the Canadian Conference of the Arts and the Arts Toronto Lifetime Achievement Award. This was followed by the Roy Thomson Hall Award in 1999, along with the SOCAN Serious Music Award that same year.

In 1998 impresario Lawrence Cherney organized an evening of multimedia entertainment at Toronto's St. Lawrence Centre to honour Louis Applebaum on the occasion of his 80th birthday. The celebration featured Applebaum's compositions performed by longtime friends and colleagues, including some of Canada's finest entertainers.

Later major works by Applebaum include: The Holly Wreath, a suite of carols composed in 1995 in collaboration with Robertson Davies; Five Snapshots for English horn and strings; and the opera Erewhon with librettist Mavor Moore, for performance by Pacific Opera Victoria in February 2000.

In 1998 Applebaum established the Louis Applebaum Composers Award with contributions from the Laidlaw Foundation and others. This lifetime achievement award recognizes both excellence in composition and the impact of a composer's work on society. In November 1999 R. Murray Schaffer became the first recipient of the award and declared: "I am particularly touched by this award that recognizes the importance of the arts in a broader societal context." The Louis Applebaum Composers Fund is administered by the Ontario Arts Council Foundation.