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Louis Applebaum

Louis Applebaumb. April 3, 1918, Toronto, Ontario; d. April 19, 2000, Toronto, Ontario


Canada’s most prodigious composer, Louis Applebaum wrote hundreds of scores for film, theatre, ballet, radio and television. He was also a tireless administrator and champion of the arts who made significant contributions to developing, nurturing and promoting the arts in Canada.

After graduating from the University of Toronto in 1940, he moved to New York, where he studied composition until 1941. He served as music director at the National Film Board from 1942 to 1948, worked for a time in New York and Hollywood – where he wrote scores for several feature films – and returned to the NFB as a consultant from 1949 to 1953. His early film scores were considerably more effective than those of his predecessors Lucio Agostini and Howard Fogg; in particular, the scores for Action Station (1943), The Story of G.I. Joe (1945), Around Is Around (1951), Dreams That Money Can Buy (1947) and Oedipus Rex (1957) stand comparison with the best work of any canon.

In addition to composing more than 250 scores for the National Film Board between 1942 and 1960, he served as staff composer for the Stratford Festival – which he helped launch with Tyrone Guthrie – from 1953 to 1960, established the Stratford Music Festival in 1955 and composed incidental music and fanfares for more than seventy-five Stratford plays. He served as music consultant at CBC television from 1960 to 1963, was chairman of the music, opera and ballet advisory committee for the National Arts Centre from 1963 to 1966, and in 1965 chaired a government-commissioned committee whose report led to the formation of the National Arts Centre Orchestra.

He served on numerous arts committees in the late sixties and in 1971 was named executive director of the Ontario Arts Council, a position he held until 1979, when he left to serve as co-chairman of the Federal Cultural Review Committee, which produced the Applebaum-Hébert Report in 1982. In addition, Applebaum taught music for film, theatre and television at York University from 1974 to 1976 and again from 1982 to 1989. After serving as artistic director of the Guelph Spring Festival from 1988 to 1989, he was elected the first president of the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN), a position he held from 1990 to 1992.

Despite his myriad administrative duties, Applebaum never stopped composing, and even conducted many of the Stratford and CBC performances of his music. In addition to winning a Canadian Film Award in 1968 and a Gemini Award in 1989, he was nominated for an Academy Award® in 1946 for The Story of G.I. Joe. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1976, a Member in 1989 and a Companion in 1995. He was inducted into the Order of Ontario in 1989, accepted a Juno Award for industry achievement in 1995, received both the Arts Toronto Lifetime Achievement Award and the Diplôme d’honneur of the Canadian Conference of the Arts in 1998, and in 1999 was awarded the Roy Thomson Hall Award and the SOCAN Serious Music Award. In 1998 he established the Louis Applebaum Composers Award to recognize a lifetime of achievement in the art of composing music. He was serving as chairman of the SOCAN Foundation when he passed away in 2000.

Film and video work includes

Call for Volunteers, 1941 (composer)
The Mask of Nippon, 1942 (composer)
13 Platoon, 1943 (composer)
Action Stations, 1943 (composer)
Alexis Tremblay, Habitant, 1943 (composer)
Coal Face, Canada, 1943 (composer)
Corvette Port Arthur, 1943 (composer)
Dollar Dance, 1943 (composer)
Handle with Care, 1943 (composer)
Industrial Workers, 1943 (composer)
A Man and His Job, 1943 (composer)
Proudly She Marches, 1943 (composer)
Wartime Housing, 1943 (composer)
Grim Pastures, 1944 (composer)
The Plots Thicken, 1944 (composer)
Proudest Girl in the World, 1944 (composer)
Ships and Men, 1944 (composer)
Target – Berlin, 1944 (composer)
Tomorrow, the World!, 1944 (composer)
Trans-Canada Express, 1944 (composer)
Eyes Front No. 29: Goodbye Mr. Gyp, 1945 (composer)
Guests of Honour, 1945 (composer)
Ordeal by Ice, 1945 (composer)
The Story of G. I. Joe, 1945 (composer)
The Three Blind Mice, 1945 (composer)
Wings Over Canada, 1945 (composer)
Main Street, Canada, 1946 (composer)
New Faces Come Back, 1946 (composer)
A Little Phantasy on a 19th-century Painting, 1946 (composer)
The Boy Who Stopped Niagara, 1947 (composer)
Dreams that Money Can Buy, 1947 (composer)
Montreal by Night, 1947 (composer)
The People Between, 1947 (composer)
Ten Little Farmers, 1947 (composer)
Art for Everybody, 1948 (composer)
Ballet Festival, 1949 (composer)
Lost Boundaries, 1949 (composer)
Challenge: Science Against Cancer, 1950 (composer)
A Friend at the Door, 1950 (composer)
Around Is Around, 1951 (composer)
The Fight: Science Against Cancer, 1951 (composer)
The Outlaw Within, 1951 (composer)
Pen Point Percussion, 1951 (composer)
Royal Journey, 1951 (composer)
Teresa, 1951 (composer)
The Whistle at Eaton Falls, 1951 (composer)
Arctic Saga, 1952 (composer)
Land of the Long Day, 1952 (composer)
Opera School, 1952 (composer)
Operation A-Bomb, 1952 (composer)
Walk East on Beacon!, 1952 (composer)
All My Babies, 1953 (composer)
Highlights from Royal Journey, 1953 (composer)
Varley, 1953 (composer)
Riches of the Earth, 1954 (composer)
The Stratford Adventure, 1954 (composer)
A Thousand Million Years, 1954 (composer)
The Jolifou Inn, 1955 (composer)
Man Against a Fungus, 1955 (composer)
Canadian Profile, 1957 (composer)
Eye Witness No. 86: Bar Mitzvah, 1957 (composer)
Oedipus Rex, 1957 (composer)
Wheat Rust, 1958 (composer)
Man of Music, 1959 (composer)
Wheat Country, 1959 (composer)
The Mask, 1961 (composer)
The Red Kite, 1965 (composer)
The Forest, 1966 (composer)
Riches of the Earth (Revised), 1966 (composer)
Paddle to the Sea, 1966 (composer)
The Discoverers, 1972 (composer)
Tennessee Williams’ South, 1973 (composer; TV)
Homage to Chagall: The Colours of Love, 1977 (composer)
Arthur Miller on Home Ground, 1979 (composer; TV)
Karsh: The Searching Eye, 1986 (composer)
The Taming of the Shrew, 1988 (composer; TV)
The Magical Eye, 1989 (appears as himself)


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