1922 - 2005

Informed Listening
Audio Samples

HARRY FREEDMAN, O.C., was born in Poland in 1922 and came to Canada with his family when he was three. His early training was as a visual artist but during his teens he developed an interest in jazz which soon spread to classical music. At eighteen, he made the break and began studying clarinet. After four years in the RCAF during the war, he came to Toronto to study oboe with Perry Bauman and composition with John Weinzweig at the Royal Conservatory of Music. The following year he joined the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as its English horn player, a post he held for 24 years until he resigned in 1970 to devote his full time to composing. Apart from brief periods with Aaron Copland and Olivier Messiaen (Tanglewood, 1949) and Ernst Krenek (Toronto, 1953), the 5 years he spent with Weinzweig were the extent of his formal studies in composition.
Freedman is one of Canada's most frequently performed composers. His output consists of some 175 compositions, including 3 symphonies, 9 ballets, 2 hour-long stage works, as well as various works for orchestra, choir, chamber groups, and much incidental music for stage, TV and film.

He is a founding member of the Canadian League of Composers (president, 1975-78) and of the Guild of Canadian Film Composers. In 1967, he was chosen to represent Canada at the 2nd Festival of Music of the Americas and Spain in Madrid, where his First Symphony was performed. In 1970 he won the Etrog (now called the Genie) for best music in a feature film at the Canadian Film Awards. And in 1984 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Freedman remains one of a handful of composers who earn their livelihoods solely from their music. His wide experience in all musical fields has enabled him to write in many different idioms, all of which have contributed to and are recognizable in his musical style.

The composer-critic Udo Kasemets had this to say in an early review of TABLEAU and IMAGES: "...He has all the makings of becoming a prominent figure on the Canadian scene, especially since he has captured in his music much of the spiritual atmosphere of this country. If we ask, what is Canadianism in music? a great part of the answer may well lie in Freedman's work and personality... Here is a man whose ethnic origin is neither English nor French and whose birthplace was outside of this country, yet whose upbringing and education took place in Canada and whose artistic fights are fought in the atmosphere of the land of his parents' adoption."


CAPAC, Canadian League of Composers

from the Canadian Press, 1998:

Composer Harry Freedman placed fourth out of 60 compositions from 32 countries at the recent 46th International Rostrum of Composers in Paris. The annual event is organized by the International Music Council with the support of UNESCO and involves broadcasters from around the world. Freedman, Polish-born and Toronto based, was honoured for his composition BOREALIS, commissioned by CBC Radio Two for the Northern Encounters festival series last year. Freedman says it's like being shortlisted for the Booker literary prize or getting an Oscar nomination. "Even if you don't win, it's something just to be nominated" Freedman said, "I feel very honoured". CBC producer David Jaeger says delegates were impressed with the "freshness of ideas and the beauty of the sound" of BOREALIS, a 16-minute work. Freedman is a founding member of the Canadian League of Composers and an officer of the Order of Canada.

In the introduction to one of his articles, Sir Donald Tovey, for many years a writer for the Oxford Companion to Music and for the Encyclopedia Brittanica, pointed out that all through history musical experts - composers, performers, teachers, critics - were wrong as often as they were right about who were the important composers of their time. "Sometimes", he wrote, "they (the experts) show the way, sometimes they block it, but it is the informed listener who has the last word."

  • Do you LISTEN to music? Do you set aside time for really listening rather than merely using music as a background to various activities?
  • Are interesting programs the deciding factor in which concerts you attend, rather than the presence of musical celebrities?
  • Do you take the trouble to protect your ears and your musical appetite? Do you cancel your order and leave a restaurant if the manager does not turn down the Muzak?
  • Do you try to avoid situations where music is just part of the ambience?
  • Do you welcome the frequent inclusion of contemporary music as a change from a steady diet of the classics?

If your answer to one or more of these questions was "yes" then you are either an informed listener or well on your way to being one. And since you are exactly the kind of person I write for, perhaps you'd like to sample my musical wares.

Harry Freedman

Audio Samples

Click here
for a list of Harry Freedman's recordings for sale at
the Canadian Music Centre

New Releases

Canadian Composer Portrait: Harry Freedman
CD 1
Freedman documentary produced and prepared by Eitan Cornfield

CD 2
1. Tableau
2. Tangents
3. Touchings
4. Town

Ovation: Vol.1
1-3. Celebration
4. Toccata for Voice and Flute
5. Tikki Tikki Tembo
6. Pastorale
7. Chalumeau
8-11. Suite for the ballet Rose Latulippe

Enquiries - Karen Freedman