Author Archive



It’s the crème de la crème of orchestral music: 16 superlative examples of the most highly regarded orchestral form: the symphony! You’ll hear or watch complete performances of the great symphonies of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Sibelius, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and other front-rank composers. Each piece will be examined in detail and placed within the musical and historical context of its period. CDs and DVDs will feature the very finest conductors, including Leonard Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan, Carlos Kleiber, Riccardo Chailly, Zubin Mehta, Claudio Abbado, Michael Tilson Thomas, Sir Roger Norrington and Valery Gergiev. It’s the perfect introduction to symphonic music, and is suitable for any level of musical knowledge. The course includes four symphonies that the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra will be performing during the 2014/15 season, by Haydn (No. 101), Sibelius (No. 7), Copland (No. 3) and Shostakovich (No. 5).

Great Symphonies
Course # D55 21119 1401
Eight Mondays, September 8 to November 3, 2014 (no class Oct. 13)
10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Location: University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Ave.
Manitoba Hall, Second Floor, Room 2M74
*Please note change in venue.

Fee: $96
Call 204 982 6633 and register today!



If you can’t make it to Europe this summer, we offer the next best thing: a multi-faceted taste of one of its most magical cities – Venice! The event begins with wine and delicious Italian snacks from McNally Robinson’s Prairie Ink Restaurant and Bakery, while you’re serenaded by the most beautiful Italian music (Pavarotti, Verdi, Puccini, Vivaldi, Rossini…). Your host Don Anderson will present a capsule history of Venice, complete with beautiful images of the city, then introduce the classic film Summertime (1955). Katherine Hepburn stars as a spinster who finds love while vacationing in the bewitching Italian city of canals and gondolas. Gorgeously filmed on location and in Technicolor by master director Sir David Lean (Dr. Zhivago), it received Academy Award nominations for actress and director. It was so popular that tourist visits to Venice doubled the year following its release!

Tuesday July 8 and Tuesday July 15 sections are sold out.
Third section: Tuesday July 29
4:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Fee: $30

This event takes place in the Community Classroom at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Ave. To register, please call 204 475 0483, log on to or drop by the store.



Come and enjoy a feast of some of the most colourful and melodic music in the world! In this enchanting survey of Scandinavian classics, Don Anderson takes you beyond the familiar works of Grieg and Sibelius (although they’re included, of course!) to mine a treasure chest of engaging, mostly folk-flavoured works from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland, spanning the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. Examples of authentic folk melodies will show you the roots of this music. Featured performers on CD and DVD include conductors Leonard Bernstein, Sir Simon Rattle, Neeme Järvi, Sir Colin Davis, Herbert von Karajan and Sir Thomas Beecham, pianist Emil Gilels, violinists Maxim Vengerov and Gil Shaham, singers Barbara Bonney and Anne Sofie von Otter, and percussion superstar Dame Evelyn Glennie.

Five Tuesdays, March 13 to April 10, 2018
10:00 am to 12:00 pm
Fee: $100


By popular demand, Don Anderson presents another collection of superlative screen adaptations of classic novels. The five books were written by revered authors from England, the USA, and France, and appeared over more than a century of time: 1831 to 1939. The films were released over a period of 40 years, 1939 to 1979. They received 31 Oscar nominations – four of them were nominated for best picture – and won 10 Academy Awards. Don will introduce each film with extensive background information, and absorbing interviews and documentaries will enhance your enjoyment.

Wuthering Heights (1939): The mist-shrouded moors of central England are the setting for this passionate romance, from Emily Brontë’s celebrated 1847 novel. The cast is headed by Laurence Olivier in his star-making role, and Merle Oberon in her finest performance. Eight Oscar nominations (including picture, director and actor) and one win.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939): In this greatest of all screen versions of French author Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel, the pathetic bell-ringer of Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral falls in love with a beautiful gypsy girl. Charles Laughton gives an unforgettable performance in the lead role, ably supported by Maureen O’Hara in her Hollywood debut. This lavishly produced and deeply moving film received Oscar nominations for music and sound.
The Grapes of Wrath (1940): This superlative adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1939 novel follows a family of migrant workers through the dust bowl years of the Great Depression. It received seven Oscar nominations and won for director (John Ford, the second of his four Academy Awards) and supporting actress (Jane Darwell). Henry Fonda heads the cast.
The Heiress (1949): Henry James’s 1880 novel Washington Square was the basis for this excellent drama set in New York high society. Olivia de Havilland took home an Oscar for her brilliant performance as a shy young woman who lives under the thumb of her cold-hearted father (Sir Ralph Richardson). Montgomery Clift co-stars as her suitor. Master director William Wyler’s film was nominated for eight Oscars and won four.
Tess (1979): Thomas Hardy’s 1891 novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles came to the screen in this gorgeously photographed and touching film. Nastassia Kinski, Peter Firth and Leigh Lawson head the cast, in the story of an innocent young country girl beset by the strict moral standards of her day. The film received six Oscar nominations and won for cinematography, art direction and costume design. Please note: this session will run approximately three hours and 30 minutes.

Five Tuesdays, April 17 to May 15, 2018
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm, except as noted
Fee: $80

All these courses take place in the Community Classroom at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Ave. To register, please call 204 475 0483, drop by the store, or log on to and click on Community Classroom. Please note that contents, fees and dates are subject to change.


Tune in to CKUW, 95.9 FM, every Wednesday afternoon from 2 pm to 4 pm for Classical Kaleidoscope, presented by MusicNet, my fantastic new radio show! I’ll be presenting a wide variety of great music, from Baroque to contemporary, familiar and beloved works plus out-of-the-way gems I’m sure you will enjoy. I will almost always be playing complete works. To enrich your enjoyment, I will back up the music with plenty of good old-fashioned background information and anecdotes, gleaned from my 35-plus years of professional experience at advocating great music. I will also be focusing on Winnipeg’s rich array of live concerts, regularly previewing the music that will be performed at them. There will be ticket giveaways, visits from special guests and much much more!


Thanks you very much for your support. Please contact McNally Robinson to be placed on a waiting list. There may be cancellations, and if enough requests are forthcoming there may be a ‘second run.’

The only film maker to win Oscars for both direction and writing two years in a row – an achievement that remains unmatched, 63 years later – Joseph L. Mankiewicz created some of the screen’s most memorable stories, characters, and dialogue. His range of subjects was vast, and this highly entertaining course covers it all.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir: A young English widow develops a relationship with the ghost of a crusty sea captain whose seaside cottage she has leased, in this most tender of romantic fantasies. Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison head the cast.
A Letter to Three Wives: Three friends are left wondering which one of their husbands has run off with the town flirt, in this delightful satire of small-town American values starring Jeanne Crain, Ann Sothern, Linda Darnell, and Kirk Douglas. It won Oscars for direction and screenplay, and was nominated for best picture.
All About Eve: Mankiewicz’s best-known film is a deliciously acid-tongued look at the theatre and those who live in, on, and for it. Bette Davis gave one of her greatest performances, as a legendary actress nearing the twilight of her career. The film, which co-stars Anne Baxter, Celeste Holm, and Marilyn Monroe, earned a still-unsurpassed 14 Oscar nominations. It won six, including best picture, director, screenplay, and supporting actor (George Sanders). “Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”
People Will Talk: An unconventional doctor defends his practices and finds love within the walls of his own clinic, in this touching humanist comedy/drama anchored by Cary Grant’s stellar performance.
Sleuth: Mankiewicz crowned his career with this diabolically entertaining game of cat-and-mouse between an aristocratic mystery writer and a middle-class rival. Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine were Oscar-nominated as best actor, and Mankiewicz for the fourth and final time as best director.

Don Anderson will introduce the films with extensive background information and trivia, and lead an informal group discussion after you’ve watched each one in its entirety. Bonus documentaries and interviews will further enrich your enjoyment.

Five Thursdays, October 17 to November 14
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Fee: $75

The course is held in the Community Classroom at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Ave. To register, please call 204 475 0483, drop by the store, or log on to:


Music Matters
By Gwenda Nemerofsky
Every day I realize how lucky I was to grow up in a musical family. Although my parents weren’t musicians themselves, they loved classical music and it was always playing in our home. My aunt was a violinist in the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and my brother was constantly practising clarinet or bassoon around the house. I was given recorder, piano and flute lessons.
And while my flute lies gathering dust on the (matching) piano these days, I still reap the joy that classical music brings – just from listening. It lifts my spirits when I’m down, it grounds me when things get hectic at work, and it brings tears to my eyes at unexpected moments from its sheer beauty. I can’t imagine life without it.
Other musical genres touch me too, but in a different way. When it comes right down to it, it’s classical that feels like home – and always will.
So I always feel a little sad when I realize that many people feel that classical listening is beyond them, that they don’t understand it and can’t appreciate it. It is a world untouched for them and I feel it’s a shame.
I was pleased last week to sit down with someone in Winnipeg who’s doing something about this. Don Anderson calls himself a “classical music resource” but he is much more than that. Over the past decade, he has taught over 30 music appreciation courses to Winnipeg adults, choosing subjects that interest him, “and that I hope will interest students too, “ he said in an interview at a local coffee shop. “I always ask at the end of each course – what do you want me to do that I haven’t done yet?”
That actually may be a tough question to answer; looking over the extensive list of topics Anderson has covered. They include Orchestral Music and Great Composers, Beethoven’s World, Instruments of the Orchestra, Grieg and Sibelius, Opera 101, and Great Conductors, to name but a few. He is just completing a course on Canadian pianist and broadcaster Glenn Gould.
Starting next week, Anderson will embark on his latest class, Legendary Musicians, which will follow the performances, lives and times of renowned violinist Jascha Heifetz, Russian cellist/conductor Mstislav Rostropovich, composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Anderson, 61, selected these artists because he feels a connection to them. “Rostropovich signed an album for me,” he says, “and I used to watch Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts on TV. I have a cellist friend who plays with the Chicago Symphony and I’ve heard them many times in person.”
Anderson spends a great deal of time preparing for each course, doing research and procuring documentaries and CDs to complement his presentations. “I usually speak for about ½ hour,” he says of the two-hour sessions, “setting the class up to listen for certain things or to provide background on what they are about to see or hear. I always research. As a professional, I want to get my facts and figures straight.” He offers personal interest stories about the musicians or composers. “It makes classical music more personal,” he says. “It comes down to earth. The gap between the audience and the stage gets smaller.”
Class feedback is positive. My mother-in-law, Eleanor has attended several of Anderson’s courses and enjoyed the content and variety tremendously, commenting also on his high degree of organization. Anderson admits to having a “solid core of loyal patrons.”
An interest in music is the only requirement for would-be students. No prior knowledge is needed. Anderson himself came to classical music as an adult. “I came to classical music by a different route,” he admits. “I always loved movies and it gradually began to dawn on me that I was enjoying the music. I especially liked Alex North’s music in Spartacus, so I looked it up and found out it was influenced by Prokofiev’s music for the film Alexander Nevsky. I took the Prokofiev out of the library.”
This was the beginning of an astounding musical career. Anderson pursued his interest whole-heartedly, becoming an expert in all things classical music. He studied piano and theory privately and worked in several record stores, including Opus 69, for 10 years where he met Winnipeggers who liked classical music. “I met and made friends with people from the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (WSO), the Winnipeg Free Press and CBC,” he says. And, as we all know, those kinds of connections can be very valuable. Anderson found himself writing concert and recording reviews for the Free Press, writing program notes for the WSO and even producing, writing and contributing to a number of CBC Radio shows for many years.
Today, he still writes program and/or brochure notes for 11 orchestras, including the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. But it’s easy to tell that the courses he gives provide a special pleasure. “Some smart person once said: knowing something is good; sharing it is better.”
Legendary Musicians runs for six weeks at the Millennium Library at a cost of $90, day or evening: Tuesdays, Nov. 6 – Dec. 11 from 10:30 am – 12:30 pm or Mondays, Nov. 5 – Dec. 10 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm. Register at the Manitoba Conservatory of Music & Arts at 943-6090 or email You can read more about Anderson at


I’m delighted that the recently completed Legendary Musicians course at the Manitoba Conservatory of Music & Arts earned high marks from the class members. They rated it at 89% “excellent” for overall impression, and 93% “excellent” for me personally. My sincere thanks to you all. Here are some samples from the students’ comments.

The best course yet – incredible insight into very special talents.
The best course you’ve ever done!!
Most enjoyable: To my surprise, the thing I enjoyed the most was the generous visuals, but even then I never wanted any of the sessions to end. With Don Anderson we are in superior hands. It seems to me I am surrounded by musically knowledgeable people, but for me this course was heaven – it brought me to tears of joy and sorrow.
I’ve taken a number of these music appreciation courses with Don. This one was the most engaging and entertaining to date. Loved the Pavarotti films and music!
Don does such a wonderful job of presenting the course material that I can’t think of a single thing that could be improved upon. I come to all of Don’s courses and I have never been disappointed in any way. I continue to be amazed at how knowledgeable he is and how thoroughly he researches his material. Tuesday mornings are the highlight of my week!
Excellent – Don’s presentation is absolutely first-rate in all that he offers. Please keep these valuable series going. We are indeed fortunate to have Don Anderson here in Winnipeg. All his courses are extremely informative and stimulating in our musical lives.
Don has continually presented superb programs. Each one is extremely well planned and executed. Don is very knowledgeable and goes to a lot of trouble to present a wonderful program. He has certainly expanded our knowledge and appreciation of the world of music.

Watch for another Legendary Musicians course during the 2012-2013 season!


I’m delighted to tell you that I have a new client! The Toronto Summer Music Festival will be presenting its fifth season of concerts, coaching sessions and master classes from July 19 to August 14. The concerts have been expertly programmed under the artistic directorship of the widely experienced conductor, Agnes Grossmannn, and they feature many superlative international artists. I will be writing copy for the festival’s season brochure, and other marketing materials. Full details of the festival will be available on its website ( on April 1. I will also be giving a pre-concert talk, illustrated with recorded musical examples, on Tuesday August 3 at 6:45 pm, in Walter Hall on the University of Toronto campus. In support of the recital that master pianist Andre Laplante will be giving at 8:00 pm that same evening, the subject is Beyond Patriotism: How Chopin and Liszt Transcended the Limitations of Nationalism. If you’re in Toronto that night, I’d be very happy to see you there!


Please join me this Sunday, February 7, for a pre-concert chat sponsored by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. My special guests will be two gifted and eloquent composers, Jim Hiscott and David Scott. We’ll be talking about their fascinating new pieces that will be performed at the next MCO concert. Your questions will be welcome, too. That’s at 2:00 pm Sunday at McNally Robsinson Booksellers, in the Grant Park Shopping Centre.


I regret to announce that the string quartet course at the University of Winnipeg has been cancelled. My apologies to all of you who expressed an interest in it. Maybe it will come back to life again one day!