Helmut Kallmann was the chief pioneer of musical historiography and music librarianship in Canada. We were good friends from our student days, sixty-plus years ago.
When I was music editor for the University of Toronto student newspaper, Helmut said I gave him his first writing assignment. His later writings, as author of the still-much-quoted A History of Music In Canada, 1535-1914 (1960) and many seminal and provocative articles, and as senior editor of the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada (1981, second edition 1992), he influenced many, perhaps most, areas of musical life in this country, in his quiet and precise fashion. He told the University of Toronto student yearbook at the start of his career that his ambition was “to be useful” – a modest aim that in my view he more than realized.
As music librarian for the CBC in the 1950s and 60s Helmut formed the profession’s first national society, now the Canadian Association of Music Libraries, and was instrumental in the move to join the International Association of Music Libraries – whose 2012 conference will take place next summer in Montreal. And in the 1970s and 80s he built an outstanding collection at Library and Archives Canada as head of that institution’s music division.
Though Helmut Kallmann possessed neither a doctorate in musicology nor a degree in library science, his work has had immense impact in both fields. He deserves to be recognized in the record of our musical history.
Visit The Encyclopedia of Music in Canada for more on Helmut Kallmann