Boris Brott, celebrated conductor, Hamiltonian and former HPO Music Director died suddenly on April 5. Our organization mourns this incredible loss to Hamilton and the wider Canadian music community. Brott held the role of HPO Music Director from 1969 to 1990.

“Boris inspired generations of musicians and audiences in Hamilton,” said HPO Executive Director Kim Varian. “His artistic leadership brought the HPO to new heights and we would not be the orchestra we are today without him. The Brott Music Festival and the National Academy Orchestra are an integral part of Hamilton’s music landscape. We will always remember Boris as a dedicated music educator and artistic leader. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.” 

Brott was just 25 years old when he took on the role of Music Director of the HPO in 1969, moving to Hamilton after holding Assistant Conductor roles with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Under his artistic leadership, the HPO became a full-time, professional orchestra for the first time in the organization’s history.

Boris Brott in 1971
Boris Brott in 1971

He led the launch of our orchestra’s music education programs, paving the way to performing in classrooms and school auditoriums across the region. Many Hamiltonians will cite one of his concerts as their first experience with orchestral music. He taught and conducted many of our current HPO musicians and audience members through HPO education programs as well as through the Brott Music Festival and National Academy Orchestra.

HPO concert program with Boris Brott
Boris Brott on the cover of an HPO concert program in the 1970s.

Boris played an instrumental part in organizing the community in the fundraising for Hamilton Place, now FirstOntario Concert Hall, which was the first permanent home of the HPO.

A letter from Boris to the community about the opening of the concert hall in 1973.

Boris’ dedication and commitment helped make the HPO into a full-time, professional orchestra, which involved hiring ensembles who would perform in the orchestra and in HPO education programs in schools. These ensembles included the Canadian Brass and the Czech String Quartet.

Boris Brott featured in The Hamilton Spectator with the announcement that the Czech String Quartet would be joining the orchestra.