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326 letters in canada 2002 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 Davis also includes a number of Grant=s later disavowals of some of these pieces B proof that the works are transitional so far as Grant was concerned B but many readers will find them of permanent interest. (LOUIS GREENSPAN) Walter Pitman. Louis Applebaum: A Passion for Culture Dundurn. 512. $39.99 Although he liked to think of himself primarily as a composer, Louis Applebaum (1918B2000) was probably best known to the public at large as the executive director of the Ontario Arts Council (1971B80) or as the cochair of the Federal Cultural Policy Review Committee (which issued the Appelbaum-H├ębert Report in 1982). Applebaum was indeed a composer, and a fine one at that, but he often reached beyond the confines of his own discipline and contributed his services to the wider cultural and creative community in Canada. He was well known in artistic, administrative, and government circles as a broad-minded, fair, and hard-working man who could get the job done, no matter whether the job involved writing a film score or assessing the cultural life of the entire country. Educated at Harbord Collegiate, the University of Toronto, and the Juilliard School in New York, Applebaum was a staff composer at the National Film Board during the war years. Success at the NFB led him in 1946 to the USA, where his score for The Story of G.I. Joe (1945, rereleased in 2000) had already earned an Oscar nomination. But in 1949 he moved back to Toronto, his home town, motivated by a loyalty and dedication to Canada that were rewarded by his appointment as a Member of the Order of Canada in 1976 and elevation to the rank of Companion in 1995. Applebaum continued to work part-time for the NFB and wrote dozens of film scores up to 1966, ending his career there with the delightful children=s film Paddle to the Sea, directed and edited by Bill Mason (and narrated by NFB stalwart Stanley Jackson, not Bill Mason as Pitman states). Hundreds more background scores were done for CBC Television, the Stratford Festival, and the private film industry. At Stratford he also inaugurated a music wing of the festival and organized the International Conference of Composers in 1960. Other organizations that Applebaum helped to found and/or nurture include the Canadian League of Composers, the Canada Council, the National Arts Centre, and the Canadian performing rights society SOCAN. Somehow Applebaum also found time for his own work as an independent composer, culminating in the opera Erewhon to a libretto by Mavor Moore. The opera was premiered in Victoria two months before the composer=s death. Walter Pitman, the author of this painstakingly thorough biography, has had a varied career in politics, academia, and arts administration (he humanities 327 university of toronto quarterly, volume 73, number 1, winter 2003/4 succeeded Applebaum as director of the OAC). The biography is based on extensive interviews with Applebaum (referred to as >Louis= throughout the book) during the last year of his life, and also with his family members, friends, and colleagues. Pitman has much insight into Applebaum=s work as an administrator, but is less savvy about his work as a creative artist and has little or no detailed knowledge of his technical skills as a musician. The author was obviously loath to omit any of his research, for what did not get used in the body of the text was saved for filling out ninety pages of bloated endnotes. The book has an index (in ridiculously small six-point font) but no discography or works list. While Pitman obviously respects and admires Applebaum, he also deals with his subject=s inadequacies and shortcomings fully and fairly. Applebaum was, in the view of his son David, >a terrible businessman,= and it is difficult to argue with that assessment. Group Four Productions, a private film company that Applebaum founded in 1961, was singularly inept in its choice of projects and went bankrupt by the end of the decade. He was later involved with a group called the Living Arts Management...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 326-327
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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