Louis Applebaum, considered the dean of Canadian theatre composers and the first director of the Stratford Festival's music department, died in the early morning hours of April 20, the festival announced.
Mr. Applebaum, who was 82, struggled with lung cancer and died in Toronto. He might be best known to generations of Stratford theatregoers in Ontario as composer of the fanfare that heralds each Festival Theatre performance. His 43 seasons with the festival began in 1953 under founding director Tyrone Guthrie.
He was to have composed music for the summer 2000 Stratford staging of The Importance of Being Earnest, but withdrew in January due to his illness.
Mr. Applebaum wrote and conducted music for more than 75 productions, most recently for School for Scandal in 1999. He worked under all eight Stratford Festival artistic directors.
"He was kind, magnetic and hugely generous, particularly in the support he gave to young Canadian composers," said Stratford artistic director Richard Monette. Mr. Applebaum was also an arts administrator who served on the boards of many organizations. He established the Louis Applebaum Composers Fund, administered by Ontario Arts Council, to recognize excellence in musical composition of any genre and to help composers of all ages.
Born in Toronto in 1918, he also created and was administrator of Stratford's Music Festival, which for many years presented concerts, operas, operettas, jazz, folk music, master classes and films.
The composer began writing music at age 15 and studied at the University of Toronto and with Roy Harris and Bernard Wagenaar in New York City. In 1941, he became composer for Canada's National Film Board, and later was its musical director.
He scored the award-winning NFB film, "Paddle to the Sea," among many others, and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1947 for the score of "The Story of G.I. Joe." He has also written ballet music, symphonic, chamber and choral works.
A public funeral service will be held 1:30 PM April 23 at Temple Sinai, 210 Wilson Ave., Toronto.
-- By Kenneth Jones