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Prolific and Successful

In his 50-year prolific composing career, Morawetz has produced over 100 compositions. For many years, he was undeniably the most performed Canadian composer, both nationally and abroad, in live performances as well as on radio broadcasts.

Signing autographs,
Boston 1991

His compositions have been heard in France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Spain, Ireland, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Greece, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Israel, Australia, Taiwan, Russia, Turkey, Armenia, Brazil and Chile. His orchestral works have been performed by all the major Canadian orchestras, as well as by U.S. orchestras in Philadelphia, N.Y., Chicago, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Boston and Indianapolis; these works have been presented by an impressive list of conductors such as Sir Ernest MacMillan, Georg Tintner, Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Mario Bernardi and Bramwell Tovey in Canada, and William Steinberg, Rafael Kubelik, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Adrian Boult, Izler Solomon, Sir Ernest MacMillan, Zubin Mehta, Walter Susskind, Sixten Ehrling, Karel Ancerl and Kurt Masur abroad.

Many fine musicians have performed his works including pianists Glenn Gould, Rudolf Firkušný and Anton Kuerti; singers Lois Marshall, Dorothy Maynor, Victor Braun, Maureen Forrester, Judith Forst, Ben Heppner, James Milligan, Louis Quilico, Jon Vickers and Lillian Sukis; violinist Itzhak Perlman; cellists Yo-Yo Ma, Zara Nelsova, Ofra Harnoy and Shauna Rolston; harpists Erica Goodman, Judy Loman and Gianetta Baril; the Orford and Loewenguth String Quartets; the Canadian, Czech, New York and Wisconsin Brass Quintets; and the Festival Singers of Canada, Elmer Iseler Singers and Vancouver Chamber Choir.

RSVP interview (CBC radio) with Leon Cole, March 1994

His music is heard regularly on CBC, and has been broadcast by many stations in the U.S., as well as the BBC and other international airwaves. His music has been published by the leading music publishers: Boosey & Hawkes, Leeds Music, Ricordi, Gordon V. Thompson, and have been recorded by the major recording labels. A 1984 CBC Anthology of Canadian Composers, and the 2002 CBC/CMC Canadian Composers Portraits series document Morawetz' life as a composer and include a number of his recorded compositions.

Morawetz has received many commissions from the Canada Council, the Ontario and Toronto Arts Councils as well as others. His compositions have won numerous competitions and have garnered him many distinctive awards.

Early Successes

Morawetz' early compositions were primarily for orchestra, as well as an assortment of pieces for keyboard, which was his own principal instrument, and for voice, which was one of his early loves. His skill for writing for orchestra came from his avaricious study of scores, and his self-discipline during his university studies in writing fugues in the style of Bach, until he had mastered a thorough knowledge of the fundamentals of counterpoint. He established himself as a master of orchestration, noted for its rich textures, instrumental colour and rhythmic vitality.

Morawetz and Rafael Kubelik,
New York 1974

His earliest orchestral composition was his Carnival Overture, which he composed in 1945, shortly after obtaining his Bachelor of Music degree. It is a work written in the harmonic language of the 19th century, making use of many elements from his Czech heritage. At the time it was written, it was almost impossible for Canadian composers to get their works performed by their symphonies. Morawetz timidly presented the score to Sir Ernest MacMillan who liked the work so much that he premičred it at his next symphony concert in Montreal. The title was not Morawetz' own choosing, but that of Sir Ernest MacMillan. Morawetz did not particularly like the title, but not expecting the work would be played again, he did not object. In fact, the Carnival Overture is probably one of Morawetz' most performed compositions, with over 100 performances in the fifty years after it was written, with such prominent conductors as Sir Adrian Boult, Sir Bernard Heinze, Rafael Kubelik and Walter Susskind.

Morawetz and Walter Susskind, Aspen, 1966

His orchestral works were performed frequently, including in well-known festivals, such as his Overture to a Fairy Tale with Walter Susskind at Stratford's 1957 music festival, his Divertimento for Strings at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair, the Dirge from his Symphony No. 1 at the 1964 Prague Spring Festival, the Sinfonietta for Winds and Percussion at the 1966 Aspen Festival of Music. Morawetz was the first composer to receive a commission from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1960, for which he wrote his Symphony No. 2.

Anton Kuerti and Morawetz, 1982

In February 1962, Morawetz heard about a competition offered by the Montreal Symphony for a piano concerto. He worked quickly towards the May 1st deadline, which coincidentally was the due date for the birth of his first child. At 2:00 am on May 2nd, he rushed to the airport to send the finished work to Montreal, and a few hours later rushed his wife to the hospital for the birth of his daughter! Morawetz' concerto won the competition along with the $1000 prize money, and the Piano Concerto was premičred by Zubin Mehta and the Montreal Symphony the following April, with pianist Anton Kuerti playing the piece from memory. The concert received a standing ovation and rave reviews in the newspapers. Jean Vallerand from La Presse said "one of the best Canadian compositions heard by our orchestra for many years", and the Montreal Star proclaimed that the "skill with which he [Morawetz] handled instrumental colours was impressive".

Morawetz and Zubin Mehta, 1966

A few years later, Morawetz attended a concert at Toronto's Massey Hall where the Montreal Symphony were guest performers. Zubin Mehta asked Morawetz why he didn't send him any more of his scores for consideration. Morawetz immediately sent Mehta his recently finished Sinfonietta for Winds and Percussion and was delighted when the conductor said that he would program it in the coming 1965-66 season. It was Maestro Ernesto Barbini who suggested to Morawetz to submit the composition to a competition in Cava dei Tirreni in Italy. His composition won the Critics' Award, and Maestro Barbini conducted the award-winning work. It was later published by Leeds and recorded by Decca.

After President J.F. Kennedy was shot, Morawetz wanted to compose a work dedicated to his memory. However, he did not want to write a work in the contemporary style, and so he took a theme from Bach's St. Matthew Passion and wrote an original work in the Bach style, but orchestrated in the modern way. As he had excelled in writing fugues as a music student, this was not only easy for him, but something he had always wanted to do. On completion of the Passacaglia on a Bach Chorale, he sent a copy to Rose Kennedy, the late President's mother, who replied that his score will remain in the J.F. Kennedy Memorial library. Morawetz also received a very complimentary letter from then-prime minister of Canada, Lester B. Pearson.

Morawetz and Rudolf Firkušný, 1946

In these early years, Morawetz also wrote a number of pieces for keyboard, some of which he performed himself. His Scherzo was premičred by the well-known Czech pianist, Rudolf Firkušný, and recorded by CBC with the composer at the piano, and later by the Canadian pianist Sheila Henig. His Fantasy in D was premičred by Anton Kuerti. Although Morawetz was very good friends with the pianist Glenn Gould, he was not satisfied with Gould's recording of the Fantasy, as the pianist had his own very strong ideas about the interpretation of the work, and would not take heed to the composer's wishes! Morawetz premičred his Fantasy, Elegy and Toccata, which was recorded with pianist Claude Savard, and is still played often. His Suite for Piano is also a popular piece for piano which has been presented to audiences by pianists Anton Kuerti, Antonin Kubalek and Angela Hewitt.

Morawetz' love for the voice stemmed from the first operas he heard in Prague as a young boy. He was crazy about opera, and learned all the main arias by playing through piano reductions. It is no wonder that his songs comprise almost 25% of his output as a composer. Most of those songs were composed between 1945-1955 and most are still sung today.

Dorothy Maynor

Victor Braun and Morawetz, 1978

Jon Vickers, 1974

One of his most enduring songs is Elegy, which was premičred by Elizabeth Benson Guy in 1948. Although the critics initially attacked his choice and interpretation of the poetry, it was habitually included as one in a set of Morawetz songs at many concerts. It was interpreted by Victor Braun and Lois Marshall, as well as Jerome Barry who was accompanied by Morawetz himself at a 1986 performance at Kennedy Centre in Washington, D.C. The song was recorded by both James Milligan and Jon Vickers. The famous soprano Dorothy Maynor selected it from among a number of songs Morawetz had sent to her, and loved it so much that she asked Morawetz to orchestrate it, as well as his song I Love the Jocund Dance. She premičred these orchestrated versions in 1954 with William Steinberg and the Philadelphia Orchestra. In 1955, Ms. Maynor commissioned Morawetz to write more songs, and he composed his Sonnets from the Portuguese, a set of four songs set to sonnets by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, which have been performed by sopranos Roma Butler and Lilian Sukis.

Morawetz' Mad Song, Chimney Sweeper, and Grenadier are also highly regarded and were premičred by Nicholas Goldschmidt. These three songs as well as To The Ottawa River were recorded by James Milligan with the composer at the piano, and later also by baritone Mark Pedrotti. His three songs to poems by William Blake, the more carefree Piping Down the Valleys Wild, Land of Dreams, and I Love the Jocund Dance were recorded by tenor Jon Vickers with pianist Richard Woitach.


Turning point

A turning point in Morawetz' style could be defined by his two masterpieces, Memorial To Martin Luther King (1968) and From the Diary of Anne Frank (1971). These two compositions were both inspired by tragic events for which Morawetz felt very deeply, and were also written during a period of turmoil in his personal life. Due to these circumstances, Morawetz absorbed himself completely in the creation of these works, pouring all his emotions into the music, and producing two of his best compositions in a very short period of time.

Mstislav Rostropovich, 1987

His Memorial To Martin Luther King was a commission from the famous Russian cellist, Mstislav Rostropovich, who asked Morawetz to write something "different, unusual" from the standard cello concerto. It was not until Morawetz watched the funeral of Martin Luther King in 1968 that the idea came to him to use the cello as the lamenting voice of the black people, supported by an orchestra void of any strings. The work would depict the last day of King's life, ending with a funeral march based on his favourite spiritual, Free At Last. As Morawetz did not know the melody for the spiritual, he called the black singer, Dorothy Maynor, who had previously sung his songs, and she sang it for him over the telephone!

Morawetz and Zara Nelsova, 1979

Mr. Rostropovich was unfortunately unable to perform the premičre of the Memorial due to political reasons in his homeland. The work was not presented to the public until 1975 when the cellist Zara Nelsova performed it with Otto Werner Mueller and the Montreal Symphony. Since that time, the work has been performed across Canada and the U.S. as well as in the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Brazil, Switzerland and Germany. In 1978, on the 10th anniversary of King's death, the work was broadcast by 16 stations in Canada and the U.S., and the following year, when King would have been 50 years old, it was broadcast in over 25 countries around the world, throughout Europe, and as far away as Korea and China, Argentina and Brazil, Australia and in the Vatican.

Morawetz was so affected by King's assassination that he wrote two works in his memory in the same year. His choral work, Crucifixion, was premičred by Elmer Iseler and the Festival Singers in 1970.

Otto Frank

It was twenty years after the end of the war before Morawetz found the courage to read the book Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. He had lost so many relatives to concentration camps, and had had such a harrowing escape of his own, that he was afraid to relive those memories. Yet when he read the diary, he was so touched by the poignancy of the young girl's words, that he wrote not one, but two compositions setting her words to music. His choral composition, Who Has Allowed Us To Suffer? is dedicated to Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank, and the only survivor among those who were hidden in the Amsterdam attic.

Morawetz, Lois Marshall, Victor Kugler (who hid the Frank family during the war), at the 1970 premičre.

His highly successful work, From The Diary of Anne Frank, received scathing reviews from the local critics who attended the 1970 premičre, attacking the work for being overly emotional. Yet it is this pathos expressed with an austere vocal line and powerful orchestral writing that has allowed this composition to endure as one of Morawetz' most successful works. In 1971, the composition won an award from the Segal Foundation in Montreal for "the most important contribution to Jewish culture and music in Canada". Upon hearing of this accolade, Israeli prime minister Golda Meir requested a meeting with Morawetz during her official visit to Toronto in 1974.

Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and Morawetz, 1974

Morawetz, Judith Forst, Mario Bernardi, 1991

The Toronto Symphony maestro Karel Ancerl presented the work in New York's Carnegie Hall with soloist Lois Marshall, where it was extremely well-received. Following this performance, the work was performed with every major Canadian orchestra, as well as in Australia, Israel and Czechoslovakia. The premičre performance has been broadcast numerous times, and a CBC-TV presentation of the work with soprano Judith Forst and the CBC Vancouver Orchestra conducted by Mario Bernardi was broadcast in 2002. In 2001, the composition won a Juno Award for Best Classical Composition.

Morawetz and Erica Goodman
Photo: Paul J. Hoeffler, Guelph, 1976

Morawetz' Concerto for Harp and Chamber Orchestra was a commission from the Guelph Spring Festival for their 1976 season. Morawetz wanted to go beyond the traditional style of harp writing in the late romantic and even contemporary period, which liberally employed broken chords and arpeggios, and so undertook to learn as much about the instrument as he could before beginning his composition. The soloist for the premičre, Erica Goodman, spent many sessions with the composer explaining the capabilities and limitations of the instrument, everything from what is easy or difficult to do with the pedals, to sounds or techniques that are not generally employed in harp writing. Morawetz recorded these sessions, reviewing them later as well as studying books on harp and listening to other recordings of harp compositions, such as the concerto by Alberto Ginastera. The composition Morawetz produced does not employ the new devices for the sake of a new sound, but rather uses the techniques to produce a different colour in the themes he is developing. The 1989 recording of the concerto with harpist Gianetta Baril and Uri Mayer conducting the Edmonton Symphony won the composition a Juno Award that year for Best Classical Composition.

Outstanding Productivity

Jane Coop, Morawetz, Jeanne Baxtresser, Parry Sound, 1980

In the latter half of his career, Morawetz took a sudden interest in chamber music. For many years, he had been approached by wind players who were short of solo literature, and who had asked Morawetz if he would be interested in writing a sonata for them. When Jeanne Baxtresser commissioned him to write a flute sonata in 1978, he could not refuse such a fine artist and wrote his Sonata for Flute and Piano, which was premičred at the first season of the Parry Sound Festival of Music in 1980.

Morawetz, Patricia Parr,
Eugene Rittich, 1980

This sonata was soon followed by the Sonata for Horn and Piano (1979), a CBC commission premičred by Eugene Rittich with pianist Patricia Parr; the neo-classic/neo-romantic Sonata for Oboe and Piano (1980); his Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (1980) which has been played in England, Germany, France and Switzerland and by fine clarinettists such as James Campbell, Julian Milkis, Peter Stoll and Joaquin Valdepeńas; the Sonata for Bassoon and Piano (1981) which has been performed by bassoonists David Carroll, James McKay and David McGill, the principal bassoonist for the Cleveland Orchestra, and who requested Morawetz to write his Concerto for Bassoon and Chamber Orchestra (1994); his Sonata for Tuba and Piano (1983); his Sonata for Trumpet and Piano (1985). In 1982, Morawetz wrote his Four Duets for Flute and Bassoon as a result of a commission from Jeanne Baxtresser and her husband, bassoonist David Carroll. However, as they had just accepted a post with the New York Philharmonic, they were unable to premičre the work, and it was first presented to audiences by flautist Douglas Stewart and bassoonist James McKay.

Morawetz has been compared to Hindemith whose ambition was to write a sonata for every instrument of the orchestra. Morawetz nearly succeeded, writing for every solo instrument except the trombone and the double bass.

Morawetz and Maureen Forrester, 1980

During this same period, Morawetz was still writing for his other familiar mediums. His 1979 symphonic poem, Railway Station, was premičred by the National Youth Orchestra and later performed under the batons of Andrew Davis and Kazuyoshi Akiyama. Contralto Maureen Forrester and the Ontario Arts Council commissioned Morawetz' Psalm 22, a powerful work in which his music depicts the contrast between a strong belief in God and fear of his abandoning his people. Morawetz accompanied Ms. Forrester for the 1980 premičre. Upon first receiving the score, Ms. Forrester wrote "the new work looks stunning". She asked Morawetz to orchestrate the work, and Andrew Davis presented the orchestrated Psalm 22 in 1984 with the Toronto Symphony.

Jon Washburn, Betty and Roland Fox, Morawetz, 1982

Shortly after Terry Fox succumbed to the cancer for which he was raising funds in his Marathon of Hope, Morawetz was inspired to write a composition dedicated to the young hero. Instead of writing an original work, he chose to transcribe a cycle of songs by Dvořák for a capella choir. Interestingly, the fifth song from his Five Biblical Songs was sung in the original Dvořák version at his wedding more than 20 years previously. In his support for Terry Fox's dream, all royalties from performances of this work are donated to cancer research. The 1982 premičre took place at the opening celebration of Westminster Abbey in Mission, B.C by the Vancouver Chamber Choir led by Jon Washburn. The performance was attended by many cardinals from abroad, as well as Terry's parents, Betty and Roland Fox.

When clarinettist James Campbell was arranging three concerts with tenor Mark Dubois and pianist Valerie Tryon at Wigmore Hall in London in 1986 to be broadcast by BBC, he asked Morawetz if he would be interested in writing something for this combination. Morawetz decided to write a piece that would contrast with Schubert's Shepherd on the Rock, and composed the dramatic The Weaver, based on a poem by the Canadian poet Archibald Lampman.

Meredith Hall, Katika Isherwood, Russell Braun and Morawetz, 1989

Although Morawetz loved the opera and writing for the voice, the closest he ever came to writing an opera was his 10-minute staged piece, Father William, based on a poem from Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland. The original 1974 version of his comic creation was a recital piece for baritone and piano. It was revised to include soprano and after several more revisions, in which Morawetz added stage directions, it was presented at Toronto's Walter Hall in 1989 with baritone Russell Braun as the eccentric Father William and Meredith Hall as the young son who questions all his father's strange habits.

Morawetz and Francine Kay, 1990

His Four Contrasting Moods for solo piano was premičred in Montreal in 1990 by Francine Kay, where the pieces were hailed by The Gazette as "skilfully wrought in a post-romantic style, but with a new indulgence in impressionistic color and fantasy". His Five Poetic Sketches for solo piano was premičred by Angela Hewitt who performed it throughout her 1993 tour of China.

Morawetz was undoubtedly attracted to writing for the string quartet as he could put to use his voice leading and counterpoint skills which he had honed from the many fugue exercises he completed during his university studies. His first opus was a string quartet as were two more written near the end of his composing career, for a total of six quartets. In 1990, the Ontario Arts Council commissioned him to write a work as part of the festival in honour of the 200th anniversary of the death of Mozart. Morawetz composed his Tribute to W.A. Mozart, which is based on three themes from Mozart's unfinished Requiem, the 'Lacrimosa', 'Dies Irae', and 'Kyrie eleison'. The premičre was given by the Orford String Quartet in their last public concert before the group disbanded.

Two years later, the CBC commissioned Morawetz to write a quartet on the occasion of the opening of the new Toronto CBC building. The new radio performance hall was named the Glenn Gould studio, and Morawetz was asked to write something for the inaugural concert in this hall that bore some relation to Gould's life and art. The Improvisations on Four Inventions by J.S. Bach is clothed in the harmonic language of Gould's favourite late-romantic composers, Wagner, Richard Strauss and Schoenberg.

Morawetz received an Ontario Arts Council commission to write a work for the Elmer Iseler Singers to be performed during the opening season of Toronto's North York Performing Arts Centre in 1994. His Prayer for Freedom is a setting of two poems by the black 19th century poet Frances Harper. They describe the suffering and humiliation of the black slaves, and their prayer to God for peace after their earthly journey.

Crowning achievements

Morawetz' successes have seen his compositions played by the best artists and selected by top conductors of all major orchestras in Canada and in the U.S. There are countless moments during his lifetime which he can recall fondly. He is equally proud of key triumphs that occurred during the last five years of his composing career.

Julian Milkis, Morawetz and Arkadi Steinlucht, Lengingrad 1990

After the 1990 premičre of his Concerto for Clarinet and Chamber Orchestra, clarinettist Julian Milkis arranged for performances of the concerto in two successive years in Leningrad. This was the only time Morawetz ever travelled to Russia, and through his guide and interpreter during his stay, he was equally fascinated by his visit in this Eastern Block country as he was mesmerized by the outstanding performance of the Leningrad Chamber Orchestra.

Yo-Yo Ma and Morawetz
Boston 1991.

Morawetz met Yo-Yo Ma on the latter's visit to Toronto in 1977 shortly after the cellist's university graduation. He was so impressed by the young musician that he hoped Ma would someday perform one of his compositions. As the cellist rose very quickly to stardom and was very much in demand, it was not until 1991 that the opportunity arose. Conductor Benjamin Zander programmed Morawetz' Memorial to Martin Luther King with Ma as soloist. The cellist loved Morawetz' composition so much, that he suggested the work to other conductors. In 1993, the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Yo-Yo Ma was engaged to play the Memorial with the New York Philharmonic and conductor Kurt Masur. Morawetz felt this was the pinnacle moment in his career. Remarkably, Ma was engaged in almost concurrent performances of the Memorial with the Toronto Symphony and implemented a hectic schedule of flying back and forth between New York and Toronto for the dress rehearsals and performances!

In 1993, Sony Classics elected to sponsor a special presentation in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the premičre of Dvořák's New World Symphony. A gala performance was to take place in the Smetana Hall in Prague and Sony invited high-profile artists Seiji Ozawa to conduct the Boston Symphony, along with violinist Itzhak Perlman and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The program was to be all-Dvořák, and as the composer had not written anything in which all these artists could play together, Sony decided to commission transcriptions of  Dvořák works. It was Yo-Yo Ma who suggested Morawetz as the composer to make these transcriptions, and so Morawetz arranged Dvořák's Slavonic Dance in E minor and Humoresque in G-flat for solo violin, solo cello and orchestra. Following this gala performance, which also included Czech pianist Rudolf Firkušný and mezzo Frederica von Stade, and was attended by Czech President Havel, Sony Classics released Dvořák in Prague, audio (CD) and visual (video) reproductions of the performance.

Morawetz and Vladimir Ashkenazy. Cleveland, 1995

In 1995, Morawetz' From the Diary of Anne Frank was performed by five different orchestras, with conductors such as Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Winnipeg's Bramwell Tovey and the Toronto Symphony's Jukka-Pekka Saraste. As well as these fine Canadian orchestras, Morawetz was particularly proud of the Cleveland Orchestra's performance led by a conductor he has long admired, Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Birthday honours

During Morawetz' last year as professor at the University of Toronto, the Faculty of Music prepared a special concert to honour his 65th birthday and impending retirement. Morawetz wrote his Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano especially for the occasion, which was premičred by violinist Victor Dachenko and pianist Patricia Parr. His Flute Sonata, his Sonata for Brass Quintet, and his String Quartet No. 2 were also performed, and Morawetz himself accompanied baritone Mark Pedrotti in five of his early songs.

Morawetz, Carl Morey,
Lois Marshall, 1987

Five years later in his 70th year, Morawetz' colleagues at the faculty of music honoured him at a private party, while he was publicly honoured by a large number of public performances of his compositions. In the month of his birthday alone, Morawetz flew back and forth between the Toronto Symphony's performances of his From the Diary of Anne Frank, and Kurt Masur conducting the Memorial to Martin Luther King in Cleveland. On the anniversary of its premičre, violinist Chantal Juillet and pianist William Tritt presented his Second Violin Sonata once again in Walter Hall in Toronto. Two days later, his Symphonic Fantasy for Brass and Percussion and his Clarinet Sonata were both performed in Toronto, and Edmonton conductor Uri Mayer programmed performances of both his Overture to a Fairy Tale and his Harp Concerto.

Reception after 1987 TSO concert with performance of Morawetz' Diary

In this same year, Morawetz' Sonata for Harp and Viola was premičred, and he received multiple performances of five of his sonatas, two piano pieces, songs and orchestral works. William Littler from the Toronto Star summed up the unparalleled number of public and radio performances of his compositions in 1987 as the "year of Oskar Morawetz".

In January of 1992, Morawetz' 75th birthday was celebrated with a number of radio broadcasts. The articles below announce the radio programs of interviews with and music of Morawetz. Some clips from the radio broadcast follow.

Jan. 17, 1992 CBC and host Terry Campbell toasting Morawetz at the CBC studio
Jan. 17, 1992 Maureen Forrester toasts Morawetz
Jan. 17, 1992 Anton Kuerti toasts Morawetz
Jan. 17, 1992 Clermont Pépin toasts Morawetz
Jan. 17, 1992 Lois Marshall toasts Morawetz
Jan. 12, 1992 Talivaldis Kenins toasts Morawetz
Jan. 12, 1992 Larysa Kuzmenko toasts Morawetz

In 1997, Morawetz celebrated his 80th birthday with family and close friends at a party hosted by his two children. His failing health no longer allowed him to travel. However, his son, Richard, who resides in Europe, wrote to the office of President Havel of the Czech Republic, informing him of Morawetz' upcoming milestone. A short while later, Morawetz received a letter from the President, congratulating him on his 80th birthday. The translation of this letter appears below, at left:

President of the republic

Prague 21 Jan. 1997

Mr. Morawetz,

Allow me to greet you on your octogenarian birthday. I value greatly your love of music with which you have valued (popularized) not only Canada where you have lived for so many years, but also your Czech homeland which you have visited so frequently. I wish you lots of happiness in your life in the future.

Václav Havel


Letter from President Havel to Oskar Morawetz, Jan. 1997

President Václav Havel
Photo: Chip Hires/GAMMA Press USA