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In Memoriam: Emmy Homburger

The Women’s Musical Club of Toronto and its Foundation mourn the death on December 11, 2019 of one of its Great Women.

President from the 108th to 110th seasons, member and supporter for many years, Emmy made major contributions of time and talent to the festivities of the centennial celebrations of 1997-98, which included the first Career Development Award, and the gala concert whose financial success resulted in the establishment of the Foundation.

Our condolences go to the family, already grieving the loss of Emmy’s husband Walter earlier this year.

A Memorial Reception will be held at Mount Pleasant Cemetery on Friday, 20 December, 2019, 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM


Celebration of Life: Walter Homburger

Walter Homburger, who died on July 25, at the age of 95, was a Patron of the WMCT, and an Honorary Advisor to the WMCT Foundation. He assisted his wife Emmy, a former president of the Club, in coordinating the Centennial Celebration Concert, whose financial success resulted in the establishment of the Foundation. The WMCT and Foundation community join in sending Emmy, and her family, our deepest sincere condolences.

Mr Homburger’s first years in Canada (1940-41) were spent in internment camps in Quebec and New Brunswick, together with other European Jewish refugees who later made unprecedented contributions to Canadian life. Musicians in this group included musicologist Helmut Blume, violinist Hymn Bress, historian Helmut Kallmann, CBC producer Franz Kraemer, and pianist (often heard at the WMCT) John Newmark.

He began his professions, of brilliant orchestra manager, consultant, impresario and artist manager, by borrowing enough money to bring Lotte Lehmann for three lieder recitals in Eaton Auditorium in January 1947. He promoted a succession of extraordinary artists (including Glenn Gould, Victor Braun, and Jan Rubes), and his term as managing director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (1962-1987) set new standards. He was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1984.
In 1993 he came out of retirement to manage the developing career of WMCT Career Development Award winner James Ehnes. In 1999 to mark his 75th birthday Ehnes and Yo Yo Ma performed a recital at Roy Thomson Hall. He was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2002 and the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement in 2010.

For further obituary notices see:

2019 10 20

James Ehnes turns 40






James Ehnes turned 40 on Wednesday, January 27. He was born on Mozart’s birthday, although 220 years later, and, like Mozart, Ehnes displayed considerable musical ability from an early age. On the occasion of his 40th the CBC was able to persuade him to participate in building a “40 photos for 40 years” slide show which is available here:


See CBC Newsletter for more photos and info.

At the age of 15, on December 1,1991, Ehnes became the second winner of the then-fledgling WMCT Career Development Award, winning first prize over finalists Erika Raum, Catherine French, and Lara St. John. He remains the youngest winner in the history of the award. As part of his prize, he returned to Toronto to play in the WMCT’s 95th season, on the 19th of November, 1992, and this concert marked his official Toronto debut. Accompanied on that occasion by Montreal pianist Louise-Andrée Baril, his performance earned a standing ovation. He has since returned to the WMCT stage three times, most recently with Russell Braun and Carolyn Maule on the occasion of the WMCT’s 115th anniversary, in a special concert at Koerner Hall on May 2, 2013.

In the photo above, Ehnes is shown in 1993, the year he started at Julliard, with Walter Homburger, who was his first manager. Walter, former managing director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (from 1962 to 1987) and is the husband of Emmy Homburger, who was WMCT President in the early 2000’s. Walter also celebrated a birthday in January, on the 22nd, although it was not his 40th.

The WMCT is proud of all that James Ehnes has achieved in his first forty years, and wishes him all the best for the next forty.

~ cvb


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