Following receiving a doctorate of law degree from University of Prague and studying musicology at University of Berlin, in 1937 Dr. Arnold Walter arrived in Toronto via Spain, where he had fled Nazi Germany. After teaching at Upper Canada College, he became director of the Royal Conservatory Senior School in 1946. He became dean of the Faculty of Music in 1952, a position he held until 1968.
In this article in The Whole Note, Professor Robin Elliott notes the importance of Dr. Walter’s arrival: “He was neither British nor Canadian, the first central European to arrive on faculty.”
The Canadian Encyclopedia sums up his extraordinary administrative and start up work in music education, opera, and information:
After immigrating to Canada in 1937, Arnold Walter became a visionary and influential leader of music education in Canada, developing musical talent and helping to build audiences for musical performance and appreciation. He introduced Carl Orff’s teaching method in North America, and established both the Senior School and the Opera School at the Toronto Conservatory of Music (now the Royal Conservatory of Music). Under his tenure as director (1952–68), the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto attained international stature, with the first electronic music studio in Canada and one of North America’s most comprehensive music libraries. Walter was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1971.
Professor Doreen Hall and Dr. Walter brought the Orff Method of teaching to Toronto. Here is an interview in 1968 courtesy of the Ball St University Library:
The Electronic Music Studio was established under Dr. Walter’s time as Dean. From MacLean’s Magazine (George Pyke, “Made-to-Measure music that eliminates musicians, March 24, 1962):
The Toronto studio was established after Dr. Walter, who is head of the U. of T. music faculty, met [Hugh] Le Caine at a conference and listened to his ideas. Dr. Walter sees “space acoustics” as one fascinating future field for electronic composition. The new sound would be made to travel around an auditorium to 25 or more loudspeakers and inundate the audience from all sides — a sort of 25-way stereophonic sound. This, he thinks, would make the ghostly wails of science-fiction movies (which have already discovered electronic sound) as old-fashioned as the C major scale.
Dr. Walter had also hired Professor Harvey Olnick in 1954 to establish the first musicology program in Canada. Dr. Walter went on to establish graduate programs in composition, musicology, and music education at the same time. In 1965 he established the doctoral program in musicology.
He also hired accomplished and influential instructors Kathleen Parlow to teach violin and pianist, vocal coach and accompanist Greta Kraus.
Arnold Walter died on October 6, 1973. In 1974 The Faculty of Music named its smaller performance hall in the Edward Johnson Building after him.