University History

Honorary degree recipients

N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may be available at the University Archives.

Honorary Degree Recipient, Professor Murray Adaskin (Photograph Collection, A-7092)
Name: Murray Adaskin, LL.D., D.Mus.
Convocation date: September 28, 1984
Special Convocation: 75th Anniversary Special Convocation
Discipline / contribution: music - composition ; music - education
Citation / biographical information:
MR. CHANCELLOR. ON BEHALF OF THE COUNCIL AND SENATE, I PRESENT TO YOU MURRAY ADASKIN. DR. ADASKIN IS AN OUTSTANDING CANADIAN MUSICIAN OF INTERNATIONAL REPUTATION WHO HAS MADE INVALUABLE CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE CULTURAL LIFE OF THIS COUNTRY, AS COMPOSER, TEACHER, VIOLINIST AND CONDUCTOR. THE UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN AND OUR CITY BENEFITED GREATLY FROM HIS DISTINGUISHED TENURE AS HEAD OF OUR DEPARTMENT OF MUSIC AND HIS INNOVATIVE LEADERSHIP OF THE SASKATOON SYMPHONY. MURRAY ADASKIN WAS BORN IN TORONTO IN 1906. HE AND HIS BROTHERS HARRY AND JOHN WERE ALL DESTINED TO MAKE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON CANADIAN MUSIC. EARLY IN HIS CAREER, HE STUDIED WITH HARRY AND LUIGI VON KUNITS IN TORONTO, KATHLEEN PARLOW IN NEW YORK AND MARCEL CHAILLEY IN PARIS. HE BEGAN HIS PROFESSIONAL CAREER AT THE AGE OF 17, PLAYING WITH THE TORONTO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND REMAINED WITH THAT ORGANIZATION FROM 1923 TO 1936. HE CONTINUED HIS WORK AS AN ORCHESTRAL AND CHAMBER MUSICIAN, PLAYING WITH THE ROYAL YORK HOTEL TRIO FROM 1938 TO 1952. IN THE MID-FORTIES, HOWEVER, HE BEGAN TO STUDY COMPOSITION WITH JOHN WEINZWEIG, AND SOON COMPOSITION BECAME HIS PRIMARY INTEREST. OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS HE ALSO STUDIED IN THE UNITED STATES WITH DARIUS MILHAUD AND CHARLES JONES. IN 1952, THE UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN PERSUADED HIM TO ACCEPT APPOINTMENT AS HEAD OF THE MUSIC DEPARTMENT - A POST WHICH HE HELD UNIL 1966. URING THAT PERIOD HE SERVED THREE YEARS AS CONDUCTOR OF THE SASKATOON SYMPHONY. THROUGH HIS EFFORTS, THE UNIVERSITY MADE MUSIC HISTORY IN 1959 BY ACQUIRING THE ONLY QUARTET OF AMATI INSTRUMENTS IN CANADA AND ONE OF THE FEW IN THE WORLD. THE YEAR 1966 MARKED ANOTHER FIRST FOR DR. ADASKIN AND THE UNIVERSITY WHEN HE WAS APPOINTED COMPOSER-IN-RESIDENCE, THE FIRST SUCH POSITION CREATED BY A CANADIAN UNIVERSITY. HE RETIRED FROM THE UNIVERSITY IN 1972 AND THE FOLLOWING YEAR. MURRAY AND HIS WIFE FRANCES MOVED TO VICTORIA, WHERE HE CONTINUES TO TEACH AND COMPOSE. THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER, MURRAY ADASKIN HAS BEEN A VIGOROUS SUPPORTER OF CANADIAN MUSIC. DURING HIS TIME WITH THE SASKATOON SYMPHONY HE ARRANGED FOR THE COMMISSIONING OF A CANADIAN WORK ANNUALLY; HE INCLUDED CANADIAN WORKS IN THE 1967 EXHIBITION CONCERTS AS WELL AS IN THE SUMMER FESTIVAL OF MUSIC IN 1959. HE WAS A CHARTER MEMBER OF THE CANADIAN LEAGUE OF COMPOSERS AND FOR THREE YEARS, A MEMBER OF THE CANADA COUNCIL. AS A COMPOSER, DR. ADASKIN IS DESCRIBED AS A MODERNIST WITHOUT BEING A RADICAL AND HAS DEVELOPED A CONSISTENT AND RECOGNIZABLE TECHNIQUE IN HIS COMPOSITIONS. A GREAT MANY OF HIS WORKS HAVE BEEN COMMISIONED, INCLUDING SEVERAL BY THE CBC, THE UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN, THE SASKATOON SYMPHONY, THE CHAMBER PLAYERS OF TORONTO AND THE CANADIAN MUSIC CENTRE. MANY OF HIS STUDENTS HAVE GONE ON THEMSELVES TO MAKE DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTIONS TO CANADIAN MUSIC. WHEN MURRAY ADASKIN LEFT THE TORONTO-MONTREAL MILIEU IN 1952 TO MOVE WEST, HE WAS ONE OF THE FIRST TO DO SO AND CONTRIBUTED IN A REAL WAY TO THE DECENTRALIZATION OF CANADIAN MUSICAL ACTIVITY. HIS CONTRIBUTIONS TO AND STATURE IN CANADIAN MUSIC HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED BY HONORARY DEGREES FROM LETHBRIDGE UNIVERSITY IN 1970 AND BRANDON IN 1972, AND BY THE ORDER OF CANADA BESTOWED IN 1981. MR. CHANCELLOR, I PRESENT TO YOU MURRAY ADASKIN AND ASK THAT YOU WILL CONFER ON HIM THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF LAWS, HONORIS CAUSA. [A.R. KNIGHT, 1984.09.28]
Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Degree presented by: A.R. Knight, Dean of Arts and Science

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