Throughout his vibrant career, composer Louis Applebaum has made an outstanding contribution to the Canadian music industry, both as an artist and a promoter of Canadian culture.
From the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada ( SOCAN, where he was president of the board of directors from 1990 to 1992) to the Stratford Festival, Applebaum has left his mark on virtually every cultural organization in Canada.
“I go far back enough to see the industry at zero, says Applebaum. “It was seeded in the early 1940s, and through the efforts of Walt Grealis it has been allowed to blossom.”
The Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award is named after the co-founder of the JUNO Awards, Walt Grealis, who is also the publisher of RPM Chart Weekly, a music industry trade publication.
In the early 1940s, Applebaum worked as the music director of the National Film Board. He became a prolific composer, creating hundreds of scores from movies produced in Canada, New York, and Hollywood. He also created music for radio and television dramas and documentaries for the CBC, CBS, BBC, and NBC Networks as well as the United Nations radio.
Recognized internationally, he has won Gemini, Genie, and Canadian Film Awards, and received an Oscar nomination for his score for The Story of GI Joe. He is also an officer of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario.
Applebaum helped the Stratford Festival develop into a world-renowned center for drama and musical theatre as the company’s first music director. Working in this position from 1953 to 1960, he composed scores for more than 50 of Stratford’s plays.
His presence is still felt at Stratford today. Applebaum fanfares have introduced every Festival Theatre performance since its opening night.
A tireless promoter of chameleon culture, Applebaum took on the role of arts administrator and helped to establish the Canadian League of Composers, the Canadian Music Center, the Canadian Conference of the Arts and the Banff Center’s year-round programs. He also served as a consultant to the CBC, the National Art Center and the Canada Council and was the executive director of the Ontario Arts Council between 1971 and 1978.
“Thank god I’ve been able to play more than just one role,” he laughs, referring to his diverse contributions to the music industry.”It has kept my life more interesting.”
Reflecting back on the development of the music industry, Applebaum notes that the Canadian recording industry is “a relatively new phenomenon.
“The public is still oriented towards music that comes from foreign sources such as America,” he says. “We need a stronger shift from the public towards Canadian music. Once we have the self-confidence to live with our own product, we will be much healthier.”
He adds with optimism that the “emergence of great songwriters in Canada over the past 20 years bodes very well for our future.”
Remaining an active contributor to the industry, Applebaum continues his connection with Stratford and is currently working on a music theatre piece. His past compositions for orchestras, ballet and musical theater are frequently played today.
The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences takes great pleasure in presenting Louis Applebaum with the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award.
“I have known Walt for many years,” says Applebaum. “I am honoured to have an award that bears his name.”
Written By Kathryn Dorrell