Maurice Solway (1906-2001) was a violinist, music teacher, composer, author and actor who lived and worked for most of his life in Toronto. Although he was highly respected as a musician in Toronto, and thoroughly immersed in the city’s musical culture from the 1920s until the 1980s, his greatest fame came to him later in life, as an actor in the Academy Award nominated NFB short film “The Violin”.
Maurice Solway's family lived at 164 York Street, Toronto, where he was born, in 1906. His parents, Jakob (b.1877) and Roza Solway (b.1877), had only just emigrated that year from Halofzen, Russia, where Jakob had been a musician and band leader. In Canada, Jakob adopted his father's trade and worked as a Kosher butcher, in Toronto’s St. John’s Ward. As a youth, Maurice played the violin in variety programmes with his sister, Dora, accompanying him on piano. His father was his first teacher, but he quickly showed enough promise to warrant private lessons with Harry Adaskin, and later with Dr. Luigi von Kunits, at the Canadian Academy of Music. He also studied at the Hambourg Conservatory in Toronto with Henri Czaplinsky and Geza de Kresz, starting in 1921.
Solway began his professional career with the New Symphony, which later became the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO). During the 1920s, he also played in the Famous Players Cinema orchestras that accompanied silent films, and performed lunch concerts in Toronto hotel and department store orchestras, professional venues that would disappear by the 1930s.
From 1926 to 1928, Solway left Canada to study in Brussels with the highly regarded violinist, Eugène Ysaÿe. There he befriended other students of Ysaÿe, such as Nathan Milstein, William Primrose, Viola Mitchell, Robert Velton, and Joseph Gingold.
Upon his return to Toronto, Solway gave several recitals that were both critically and publicly well-received. Few such opportunities, however, existed in Canada at the time, and Solway was obliged to find work in-between solo concerts. He also suffered an injury to his left hand while moving a piano in 1929 that required him to adjust his technique for three fingers and interfered with his being able to play comfortably for a number of years.
He was married in 1930 to Anne Cass (1907-1994), and they had a son, Stephen. Facing his financial obligations to his new family, he opted for the more dependable income of orchestral playing versus the riskier and transitory life of a soloist. Besides classical music, he played with jazz groups like the Jolly Bachelor’s Orchestra, Oscar Peterson, Jerome Kern, and Percy Faith, and on numerous recordings for the CBC, CFCA, and CKGW radio stations. He also played chamber music with the Joyce Trio, founded by Simeon Joyce (piano) and featuring Charles Mathe (cello).
In 1952, Solway retired from the TSO, dedicating himself to his chamber playing and radio work. He founded the Solway String Quartet (SSQ) in 1947, with Marcus Adeney (cello), Nathan Green (viola) and Jack Groob (violin). The quartet played a mixed repertoire that included standard classical music with more widely recognized popular songs and new compositions, especially works by Canadian composers such as Howard Cable, John Weinzweig and Jean Coulthard. Sponsored by the Ontario Board of Education and the CBC, the SSQ played rural Ontario towns and broadcast concerts for a wide demographic of music listeners. In 1955, they performed the Canadian debut of the Castelnuovo-Tedesco Quintet for guitar and strings with Andres Segovia. The SSQ, with frequent changes in personnel, continued performing until 1968. Other players in the SSQ included Robert Warburton, Martin Chenhall, Murray Adaskin, Arthur Milligan, Charles Dobias, Eugene Hudson, Berul Sugerman, Joseph Pach and Ivan Romanoff.
In 1973, Solway was invited to act in a short children’s film “The Violin,” co-produced by George Pastic and Andrew Walsh. Solway also contributed the original music to the film, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1975. Following the success of the film, Solway also appeared on television, making guest appearances with Sharon, Lois and Bram, on the Elephant Show and Mr. Dressup. During this time, his wife Anne traveled with him and managed his appointments.
Solway was also a violin teacher throughout his career. In 1989, he published a preparatory book, Fiddling for Fun: the Visual and Aural Art of Violin Playing, in which he outlined a new theory for violin practice that proposed an easy to use visual system for familiarizing students with intervals and fingerboard positions.
He also wrote an autobiography, Recollections of a Violinist, in 1984, and continued to lecture and speak about music. In 1981 and 1983 he devised a lecture performance series to commemorate Ysaÿe, the proceeds of which went to the establishment of a music scholarship at the Royal Conservatory. As he began to play less frequently in the 1980s, he also began to compose more regularly, completing more than one hundred compositions, primarily works for solo violin and for violin and piano. As a composer, he returned frequently to folk themes and completed a series of songs based on his travels around the world. Among his folk themes are songs inspired by his visits to such diverse countries as Norway, Maui, Japan, Israel and Spain.
Maurice Solway was affiliated with the Beth Tzedec Synagogue and frequently contributed to charity concerts and fundraising efforts for organizations such as the Inner City Angels, a cultural society for disadvantaged children. He died in 2001 in Toronto.
Scope and Content
The Solway fonds is arranged into twelve files. The documents relate to Solway's professional activities as a musician, educator, composer, actor and author. These include printed texts, photographs, original music scores, promotional materials, programmes, audio cassettes, articles, correspondence, radioscripts and a video.
Includes 31 photographs, 2 v. of text, 1 videocassette (VHS) and 17 audio cassettes.
Heinz Kassel (1912-2009) (later changed to Henry Cassel) was a German refugee during the Second World War who was classified as an enemy alien by the British government. He spent two years in an internment camp for prisoners of war (POWs) in Quebec. He later became a naturalized Canadian citizen and enlisted in the Canadian military.
Heinz was born on October 25, 1912 in Aschaffenburg, Germany to Adolf and Olga Kassel. Adolf owned a successful banking business which he had inherited from his father. The family resided above the bank and lived a comfortable life during these early years. They moved to Frankfurt around 1920 after Adolf sold his business to buy a partnership in a bank there.
Heinz’s parents had hoped that he would one day become a corporate lawyer. In 1931, in preparation for his future career, he began studying law and economics at Frankfurt University. He enjoyed his initial university years. However, after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, he became alarmed when his non-Jewish university friends began ignoring him and when the German government passed laws forbidding Jews from practicing law in court. Determined to leave Germany and seek out a better life elsewhere, he begged his parents to immigrate with him to the United States. They refused to go, unwilling to leave behind the life they had worked so hard to build. In accordance with his parents’ wishes, Heinz relocated to nearby Italy instead of the US in 1934. He learned Italian and eventually secured a job with an engineering firm.
Sensing that the political climate in Italy was becoming dangerous for Jewish people, Heinz applied for immigration to the US in early 1939. Eager to leave Italy, he relocated to London to await the approval of his US visa. He left just in time: Britain declared war on Germany less than a week after his arrival. His parents, in turn, managed to escape to Holland. Soon after Britain’s declaration, all immigrants from enemy countries were considered enemy aliens and suspected of being spies.
On May 12, 1940, the British military arrested Heinz and interned him with other German immigrants and POWs. He believed his detainment was only a precautionary measure and that he would be cleared within a few days. However, the British shipped him to the Isle of Man where he remained for several months. Fearing an invasion, the British shipped 3,000 of the POWs, including Kassel, to Quebec, where he was briefly interned at a POW camp set up at the Plains of Abraham. In October 1940, he was moved with 736 other refugees to an abandoned railway yard (later known as “Camp N”) in Newington, near Sherbrooke, Quebec. While there, he confronted a great deal of antisemitism from the guards.
While he was interned in Quebec, the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) interviewed him and other Jewish prisoners in order to lobby for their release. Realizing that the internees were not POWs, the Canadian government declared the camp a refugee camp in 1941. By October 1942, the CJC was successful in helping Heinz secure employment with Benjamin Pape & Company in Toronto.
Heinz met Reta Freeman in Toronto and they were married in November 1944. Reta was born and raised in Toronto. After their nuptials, they were both briefly classified as enemy aliens and had to report to the RCMP on a regular basis. Shortly thereafter, Heinz enlisted in the Royal Canadian Army and was sent to basic training in Manitoba. On January 21, 1946 he was granted landed immigrant status, and in April of that year, he became a citizen.
After the war, Heinz learned that his parents as well as other relatives had been transported to concentration camps and had not survived. He was certainly one of the few fortunate ones to leave the country, despite the circumstances of his removal. He resented being interned for so long, but did not blame the British for rounding him up with other Germans based on their initial fears regarding enemy aliens. His feelings about Canada's treatment of him during that time, however, were not as sympathetic.
The couple lived their lives in Toronto. They first resided at 2346 Yonge Street. Heinz legally changed his name to Henry Cassel. He worked as an accountant and later was a controller for the United Jewish Welfare Fund. The couple had two children: Andrew (b. 1947) and Richard (b. 1951). Reta passed away in August 1962 and Henry later remarried Esther Cassel. He passed away at the age of 96 on February 15, 2009.
Records were created and accumulated by Henry Cassel. His sons donated them to the OJA after his death.
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of records documenting the life of Henry Cassel, particularly his attempt to emigrate from Europe prior to the Second World War and his internment in Canada as a German prisoner of war (POW). Included is personal correspondence between Cassel and his parents; correspondence written by Cassel to potential employers and Canadian Jewish agencies; legal documents and certificates, such as Cassel's birth certificate and passport; family photo albums documenting the family and lives of Henry Cassel and his wife Reta; Cassel's autobiography; a journal and notebook written by Cassel during his internment; and, other internment records, such as government forms and poems and songs written by internees. Also included are newspaper clippings, articles, financial statements, genealogical research, and antisemitic ephemera collected by Cassel. Of particular note are newsletters that were produced during the 1990s by ex-internees who had kept in touch over the years. Records are arranged into 16 files.
Textual records in the fonds were reduced from ca. 20 cm to 8 cm. Please see accession record for further details about the culled material.
Associated material notes: for related records at other archives, please see: the UJRA case files at the National CJC Archive in Montreal and the holdings at Library and Archives Canada (such as, the Directorate of Internment Operations series in the Department of National Defense fonds R112-0-2-E)
Cassel, Henry, 1912-2009
Europe--Emigration and immigration
Prisoners of war
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director prior to accessing some of the records.
See: Canadian Jewish Congress case files in RG 282 and accession #2005-10-1.