History of the CLC


The Canadian League of Composers was founded in 1951 in Toronto by a group of eight composers: John Weinzweig, Louis Applebaum, Harry Freedman, Andrew Twa, Murray Adaskin, Harry Somers, Philip Nimmons, and Samuel Dolin. The idea for the league grew from an informal discussion in February of 1951 between several of these composers at Weinzweig’s home. The first organizational meeting was held on 1 April 1951, and John Weinzweig was elected the first president of the CLC. The CLC’s activities were directed by a volunteer board of composers, a practice that still continues today. (photo by Helmut Kallmann)


In its early years, the League’s activities focused on increasing the performance and recording of Canadian music, with the goals of promoting new music in Canada and advancing the professional interests of composers. The CLC began to develop a small library of contemporary scores by Canadian composers, but soon realized the need for an independent agency to administer and increase the collection. A proposal for a new organization by John Beckwith and John Weinzweig to manage this collection and advocate for Canadian music resulted in the opening of the Canadian Music Centre in 1959. The CLC office is presently located in the CMC’s national office in Toronto.


Major accomplishments, programs and contributions of the CLC:

  • a contributing organization to the founding of the Canada Council for the Arts (1957), the Canadian Music Centre (1959), and the Ontario Arts Council (1963);
  • home of the Canadian Section of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) from 1953-56, and from 1981 to present;
  • presented 200 works in over 40 concerts in Toronto, Montréal, and Hamilton from 1951 to 1966;
  • offered scholarships to young composers, 1968-1977;
  • represented the interests of composers by appearing before the Task Force on Broadcasting Policy, the Canadian Advisory Committee on the Status of the Artist, and at Government of Canada hearings into free trade, recording, the GST, etc.;
  • adopted regionally-balanced representation on Executive Council, 1981;
  • initiated the Friends of Canadian Music Award, with the Canadian Music Centre, to recognize and celebrate distinguished contributors to contemporary Canadian music, 1993;
  • adopted additional membership categories for students and affiliates, 2006;
  • initiated an organizational renewal to reinvigorate and focus our activities, culminating in a Strategic Plan and Governance Plan, 2008;
  • launched a series of professional development workshops, 2007 – present.


Past CLC Presidents:

  • John Weinzweig, 1951 - 1957, 1959 - 1963
  • Victor Davies, 1979 - 1982
  • Paul McIntyre, 1982 - 1983
  • Alex Pauk, 1983 - 1989
  • Patrick Cardy, 1989 - 1992
  • Rodney Sharman, 1993 - 1998
  • John Burge, 1998 - 2006
  • Paul Steenhuisen, 2006 - 2007
  • James Rolfe, 2007 - 2011
  • Jennifer Butler, 2011 - present


For more detailed information on the Canadian League of Composers, please see the Canadian Encyclopedia entry on our organization written by Helmut Kallmann and Alexis Luko.


The CLC’s archives are housed in the National Library of Canada.

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Elisha Denburg, General Manager 
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Tel.: 416.964.1364
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