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Cultural Relations: Music

Canadian composers and performing artists enjoy international recognition and are regular guests on German stages.

Glenn_Gould_photo_Don_HunsteinThe name Glenn Gould (1932-1982) stands out from others. Called the “James Dean of the piano”, Gould left an impressive collection of recordings and his theories continue to be discussed. A pianist, broadcaster, writer, composer, conductor and organist, he was one of Canada's most influential cultural figures, and remains one of the world's most admired and studied musicians.



Glenn Gould. Photo: Don Hunstein
© Copyright Sony Music Entertainment Germany GmbH

Contemporary pianists like Marc-André Hamelin and Louis Lortie perform regularly in Germany, as does the young pianist Jan Lisiecki, who, aged just 19, is the shooting star of the scene. Accomplished Canadian (opera) singers include Measha Brueggergosman, Eilana Lappalainen, Adrienne Pieczonka and Louis Quilico. The conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin has just signed an exclusive contract with Dortmund Concert Hall.
Composers such as R. Murray Schafer, Claude Vivier, Robert Normandeau and Robin Minard are represented in German repertoires. Schafer became world famous for his ecological sound research and Robin Minard's sound installations can be seen at international new music festivals. Canadian orchestras include the Montréal Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as well as smaller ensembles like the Baroque Tafelmusik Orchestra, which have earned an impressive collection of prizes and distinctions.

Canadian jazz pianist and composer Oscar Peterson (1925–2007) released over 200 recordings, won eight Grammy Awards, and received numerous other awards and honours. He is considered one of the greatest jazz pianists, having played thousands of live concerts to audiences worldwide in a career lasting more than 60 years.
Stars like Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Paul Anka represent the early years of Canadian popular music. With his poems and recitals, Leonard Cohen is a singer-songwriter legend. Cohen has been inducted into the American Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honour. In 2011, Cohen received a Prince of Asturias Award for literature.

Poet, publisher and singer-songwriter Gilles Vigneault composed the song Mon pays, which is considered to be Quebec's unofficial anthem. It is through the oral folk tradition, deriving its essential qualities from European folklore, that the Quebec chanson has carved out its privileged position.

Bruce Cockburn, Bryan Adams, Men Without Hats, The Tragically Hip, The Waltons and the Cowboy Junkies were among the first Canadian rock stars to achieve international acclaim. They were followed by groups such as the Barenaked Ladies and the Tragically Hip. Sarah McLachlan, Céline Dion, Alanis Morissette and Shania Twain conquered international markets. Avril Lavigne made it into pop charts worldwide. Arcade Fire have won numerous awards, including the 2011 Grammy for Album of the Year, the 2011 Juno Award for Album of the Year, and the 2011 Brit Award for Best International Album for their third studio album.


The Embassy of Canada cooperates with German cultural institutions and companies who promote Canadian musicians.

New and classical music: Astrid H. Holzamer, Cultural Attaché
Electronic and popular music: Katharina Fichtner, Cultural Attaché
Embassy of Canada, Public Affairs
Leipziger Platz 17
D - 10117 Berlin


Canada Council for the Arts
Conseil des Arts du Canada

The Canada Council Music Section supports the ongoing development of outstanding Canadian artistically driven music, created, performed, produced and disseminated by professional Canadian artists and arts organizations expressing Canadian cultural, creative and intellectual diversity for the benefit of the Canadian and international public.


in Canada:
Canadian Heritage - Music
The Canadian Music Centre
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

in Germany:
Goethe- Institut
Verband der deutschen Konzertdirektionen
Jazz thing



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