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Canadian Pianists Germaine Malépart and John Newmark

By Clement Trudel

Two pianists who have strongly influenced the musical life of Montreal were great teachers and communicators: Germaine Malépart (Prix d'Europe 1917) and John Newmark, soloist and accompanist.

The Society of symphony concerts in Montreal - the ancestor of the OSM - were among his first guest soloists, the pianist Germaine Malépart (1898-1963). This former student of Arthur Letondal had early acquired a reputation for excellent interpreter. In 1911, the Ladies' Morning Musical Club, Mrs. Malépart debuted at age 13, she also performed in France, the Pleyel and Salle Gaveau in the 20s. After many rounds, she devoted herself to teaching, thus influencing the formation of many musicians.

In his memoirs (An unfinished symphony, Leméac, 1972), Wilfrid Pelletier lists the first teachers hired at the Conservatoire de Musique du Québec. In addition to many foreigners, he was particularly successful among Quebecers, Germaine Malépart.

Died in 1963, his influence is still felt among the many students she has trained and motivated over the years.

John Newmark, Hans Neumark born in 1904 in Bremen (Germany), naturalized Canadian in 1946, remained for him a great defender of German music. The Neue Kammermusik Bremen is his creation. The rise of Nazism forced to flee Germany, he was placed under arrest by the British in the Isle of Mans. Subsequently interned in concentration camps in Canada, he was freed in 1942. Newmark was not slow to make his mark on the programming of the CBC and in 1944 he played for the first time on the air the complete Beethoven trios with violinist Alexander Brott and cellist Roland Leduc. He received in 1952, the Grand Prix of the Academie Charles Cros recording made along with Kathleen Ferrier. Accompanying the regular deemed Maureen Forrester, his name remains associated with the creation of many Canadian works.

Newmark John died in 1991, he has left a huge discography, including recordings with tenor Leopold Simoneau and Richard Verreau.

Both pianists are among those who, in the twentieth century, have dug deep furrows in the art world too often trained on ephemeral celebrities. As recalled in the title of a novel by Roch Carrier: There is no country without a grandfather.