David L. Kaplan

April 2015

Curated by: Stevie Horn and Laurie Wing

On April 6th, 2015, the University of Saskatchewan saw the loss of a remarkable Emeritus Faculty member and a tireless mover-and-shaker in Saskatoon’s music scene.  Passing away at the age of 91, Dr. David L. Kaplan’s love of music and music education had its origins in his childhood and 1920’s Chicago. After the Second World War, Kaplan pursued his Bachelor of Music at Roosevelt University in Chicago, and then his master’s degree in Music from Oberlin College in Ohio.

In 1960, Professor Kaplan was offered a position teaching music within the College of Education at the University of Saskatchewan, and became a driving force behind the creation of an independent Department of Music in 1964. He served as the head of this department for nearly 20 years. Dr. Kaplan was devoted to teaching, and continued to serve as a professor emeritus and sessional lecturer long after his retirement in 1991.

Not only was Dr. Kaplan devoted to music at the University of Saskatchewan—he also became deeply involved in the music culture of Saskatoon, and Saskatchewan. His involvement is too broad to concisely list but some notable elements were his work as conductor of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (1962-1972), his role in establishing the Festival of Faith multi-faith music festival in Saskatoon, and his endless support and encouragement of young musicians. In recognition of his work, Dr. Kaplan became a member of the Order of Canada in 2002, and was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit in 2006.

In celebration of Dr. Kaplan's life, the University of Saskatchewan Archives and Special Collections has put together a small display on the ground and third floors of the Murray library, featuring materials from throughout his long and fruitful career. The collection of programmes, musical scores, thank-you letters and reviews paints a picture of a man who was not only personally successful in his musical endeavours, but who was deeply appreciated by the musical community for which he did so much. 

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