Murray Adaskin’s Heintzman Salon Grand Piano
Murray Adaskin’s 1960 Heintzman Salon Grand Piano is a storied instrument, as much for the many important works Adaskin composed and performed on it as for how many of the current generation of celebrated composers studied at this keyboard.
It was manufactured at the very apogee of Canada’s finest piano maker and has a gorgeous, warm sound. It truly is the crown jewel of our centre. It has been played by Sir Ernest MacMillan, Benjamin Britten, Mario Bernardi, and John Newmark among many others. It truly holds a unique place in BC’s musical history.
Rodney Sharman, Composer
“My first memory of the Adaskin piano is inseparable from my first memory of entering their music studio. I was 15. Above the staircase leading to the studio was Paraskeva Clark’s 1945 portrait of Frances James, Murray’s wife and Canada’s leading soprano in the 1930s and 40s. Regal, poised Frances dressed in yellow, standing next to the piano, music scores and a large bouquet of lilacs on the instrument. Murray’s companion portrait on the neighbouring wall, visible as you descended the stairs, cradling his violin and bow. Murray’s scores and books were on your left, turn right, and you were in a large, cool, white space, big enough for home concerts, sparely and elegantly furnished. The walls were covered in framed photos, postcards and letters from famous violinists, singers, and composers: Igor Stravinsky, Darius Milhaud, Benjamin Britten.
My earliest lessons were at this piano, Murray carefully playing through my sketches. Murray was not a pianist, nor am I. My first memory of the piano played well was a concert at their home in 1974. This included the premiere of Murray’s T’filat Shalom, with Jeffrey Krolik, violin and Philip Tillostson, piano. Cathy Lewis sang Poulenc. At the end of the concert, Frances, well into her seventies, was convinced to sing, the first and only time I ever heard her. She sang Gershwin’s Summertime so expressively, and Philip accompanied with such love that the memory brings tears to my eyes.”
Catherine Fern Lewis, Soprano
“You walk down white carpeted stairs passing the two huge and beautiful portraits of Murray and Frances James Adaskin by Paraskeva Clark and turn left into the music room. This comfortable room was about 15′ by 30′ and the Heintzman grand piano stood at the far end. It was always kept in good tune and perfect repair, surrounded by books, music, and beautiful artwork by the likes of Maxwell Bates, Flemming Jorgensen, Ci Ci Mara and Pat Martin Bates, all were perfectly hung.
On the wall to the left of the piano, hung the rogues gallery, where there were signed ‘scream sheets’, as Frances called them, of the likes of Sir Ernest MacMillan, Mario Bernardi, Benjamin Britten, John Newmark, Gwendolyn Koldofsky, all who played that piano, as well as photos of Emmy Heim, Darius Milhaud, Maureen Forrester, Harry and Fran Adaskin, to mention a few. I wish there were pictures of this happy room where I and many others spent hours at the piano having our lessons and studying with the Adaskins’. I can still see Franny sitting at that piano with one of her beautiful silk scarves fashioned about her neck.”
Colin Miles, Former CMC BC Director
“Dr. Murray Adaskin, O.C. wrote music in all genres and took seriously the task of creating music for music students of all ages. He was a mentor for students and faculty at the Victoria Piano Summer School, Victoria Conservatory of Music and University of Victoria School of Music. The Canadian Music Centre owes thanks to Arne Sahlen and the British Columbia Music Teachers’ Association for the initiative to purchase his Heintzmann grand piano for the BC Centre. This was a gesture of honour and respect to Dr. Adaskin and his widow Dorothea. Its presence in the CMC Office in Vancouver was made possible by gifts from many people as well as the Martha Lou Henley Foundation.
At Murray’s birth, there were more than 300 piano manufacturers in Canada but when he purchased his piano there were only a handful. This instrument was manufactured at the apogee of Canada’s finest piano maker. It is truly the jewel in the crown of the BC Centre. May it be restored, maintained and played for many years, opening ears, minds and hearts to the riches of Canadian musical creativity.”