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Mapping Canada’s Music

Selected Writings of Helmut Kallmann

Helmut Kallmann; John Beckwith and Robin Elliott, editors

Hardcover 260 pp.

ISBN13: 978-1-55458-891-6

Release Date: March 2013

Online discount: 25%

$59.99  $44.99


eBook availability

Winner of the 2013 Carol June Bradley Award for Historical Research in Music Librarianship (Music Library Association)

Mapping Canada’s Music is a selection of writings by the late Canadian music librarian and historian Helmut Kallmann (1922–2012). Most of the essays deal with aspects of Canadian music, but some are also autobiographical, including one written during retirement in which Kallmann recalls growing up in a middle-class Jewish family in 1930s Berlin under the spectre of Nazism.

Of the seventeen selected writings by Kallmann, five have never before been published; many of the others are from difficult-to-locate sources. They include critical and research essays, reports, reflections, and memoirs. Each chapter is prefaced with an introduction by the editors. Two initial chapters offer a biography of Kallmann and an assessment of his contributions to Canadian music.

The variety, breadth, and scope of these writings confirm Kallmann’s pioneering role in Canadian music research and the importance of his legacy to the cultural life of his adopted country. In the current climate of cuts to archival collections and services, the publication of these essays by and about a pre-eminent collector and historian serves as a timely reminder of the importance of cultural memory.

Born in Berlin in 1922, Helmut Kallmann lost his mother, father, and sister in the Holocaust. He was sent to England on the Kindertransport and later to Canada, where he was interned as an enemy alien from 1940 to 1943. After graduating from university with a B.Mus., Kallmann worked from 1950 to 1970 at the CBC Toronto Music Library. In 1970 he was appointed chief of the newly created music division of the National Library, where he developed the plan for the collection and preservation of musical Canadiana and curated several exhibitions. In retirement he produced a newsletter for those who were interned with him in Canada, and assisted the Berlin government with exhibitions documenting the lives of Jewish residents in his childhood neighbourhood. He received the Order of Canada in 1977.

In his sixty-year career, John Beckwith has drawn attention with performances, broadcasts, and recordings of his more than 150 compositions and with his critical and research writings on personalities and issues of Canadian music past and present. Associated from 1952 to 1990 with the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, he was a witness of, and often a participant in, “the excitement of new creative directions in theatre, painting, and music” (as he once put it) of late-twentieth-century Canada. John Beckwith is a member of the Order of Canada and holds honorary doctorates from five universities.

Robin Elliott holds the Jean A. Chalmers Chair in Canadian Music at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. He recently co-edited two books for WLU Press, Music Traditions, Cultures, and Contexts (with Gordon E. Smith, 2010) and Centre and Periphery, Roots and Exile: Interpreting the Music of István Anhalt, György Kurtág, and Sándor Veress (with Friedemann Sallis and Kenneth DeLong, 2011).


“All of the essays address various aspects of Canadian music, making them significant for the scholar. Particularly useful are the half- to full-page introductions by the editors that contextualize each essay.... This book is far more than a collection of essays. The various chapters provide perspectives on a vast range of topics by Canada’s seminal music historian. At the same time, the book vividly reinforces what is both unique and vital about Canada’s musical culture.”

— Edward Jurkowski, University of Lethbridge, Canadian Association of Music Libraries Review

“Elliott and Beckwith have collected an insightful guidebook, invaluable to anyone with an interest in this country’s art music. There is a deeply human side to this book as well, one that transcends Kallmann’s specific personal and professional preoccupations and places this quiet, old soul at the centre of the greatest horrors of the 20th century.... But Kallmann’s enduring legacy is in helping create the infrastructure we all need to know who Canadian composers are, what they have written, who performed these works, and how all of this fits into a larger performing-arts context. Beckwith and Elliott have sifted through Kallmann’s essays and papers well and wisely to provide a multi-faceted appreciation of someone never seen in a spotlight.”

— John Terauds, Musical Toronto

“This new book Mapping Canada’s Music, is perhaps the best possible tribute to Kallmann.... The Wilfrid Laurier University Press deserves much praise for taking on this very worthy project.... This relatively small university press has rapidly carved out a niche with a number of titles on music in postwar Canada, among them In Search of Alberto Guerrero (2006), Music Traditions, Cultures, and Contexts (2010), Weinzweig (2011), and Beckwith’s memoirs, Unheard Of (2012). The WLU Press has just issued Out of Time (2013), the biography of another Nazi-era refugee, the conductor, Georg Tintner. These twenty-first century assessments of recent history come not a moment too soon and have much to say about music and imagination in twentieth-century Canada. Both Centre and Periphery, Roots and Exile and Mapping Canada’s Music tell the stories of individuals uprooted and forced to find new beginnings in a country that was accepting of their talents and that was enriched by their contributions.”

— Brian C. Thompson, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Fontes Artis Musicae

“Kallmann’s methodology as a historican is an interesting mix of old and new approaches.... He realized early on ... that in the absence of ‘creative giants’ like Bach or Mozart, Canadian music history would be focused primarily on social and cultural aspects of musical activity, and less on ‘artistic aspects’ (p. 44). He did not bemoan this fact (as some might have during this era) but embraced it, continually asking what meaning music held for Canadians over the centuries rather than searching for Canada’s Beethoven.... In coediting the EMC, he insisted that classical, popular, and folk traditions all be included. Given the pioneering role Kallmann played, these methodological decisions had an enormous effect on the shape and scope of the field; the ‘map’ of Canada’s musical past that he created had a place for the musical activities of just about everyone.... If it was his goal to lay foundations for future scholars, he was undoubtedly successful. In the first place, his own writing (the full list of his writings given at the end of the book is impressively vast and diverse) showed us that Canadian music history research was possible and whetted our appetites to learn more. Indeed, one reason for those in the field to read this collection is to stimulate ideas for new paths of research. But more profoundly, because of his involvement in the huge pioneering projects described above (the History, the EMC, and his work as archivist at the National Library in particualar) it is now difficult to explore a topic in Canadian music history without using a source that has been touched (directly or indirectly) by Kallmann’s initial efforts.... This book ... is essential reading for those interested in Canadian music history but will also appeal to those with an interest in music librarianship, historiography, North American colonial and cultural history, and biography.... The overall picture of a new field being born in the hands of a man with a fascinating life story will have wide appeal.”

— Benita Wolters-Fredlund, Calvin College, Notes (Music Library Association)

Mapping Canada’s Music

Table of Contents


Related interest


By the same author

In Search of Alberto Guerrero, John Beckwith, editor

Weinzweig: Essays on His Life and Music, Brian Cherney; John Beckwith, editor

Unheard Of: Memoirs of a Canadian Composer, John Beckwith, editor

Music Traditions, Cultures, and Contexts, Robin Elliott and Gordon E. Smith, editors

Centre and Periphery, Roots and Exile: Interpreting the Music of István Anhalt, György Kurtág, and Sándor Veress, Friedemann Sallis, Robin Elliott, and Kenneth DeLong, editors

Related links

Review by John Terauds on Musical Toronto Blog