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.
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