Joachim, Otto (1910–2010) By Strachan, Jeremy
Born in Düsseldorf and eventually settling in Montreal, Canada, Otto Joachim was a composer, violist, painter, and instrument builder. Joachim fled Nazi Germany in 1934 and spent fifteen years performing in Singapore and China, before immigrating to Montreal in 1949. There he taught at McGill University and the Conservatoire de Montreal, formed the Montreal Consort of Ancient Instruments (1958–69), and became principal violist of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. By 1956 he had established his own fully functional electroacoustic music studio. Early compositions such as Asia (symphonic poem, 1929–39) predate later explorations in a melodic and idiomatic dodecaphonic style developed in the 1940s and ‘50s (L’Eclosion for solo piano, 1954; and Concertante No. 1, 1955–57). Throughout the 1960s Joachim experimented with aleatory, graphic notation, and mixed media in works that balanced electronic, acoustic, and theatrical elements. Katimavik (four-channel tape, 1967) was commissioned for Canada’s centennial celebrations and musically mirrored the structure of the architecture of the Canadian pavilion at Expo ’67 in Montreal; Illuminations I (1965) employs serial and aleatoric techniques in exploring relationships between light and sound. Joachim received the Grand-Prix Paul Gilson for Illuminations II (1969), an honorary doctorate from Concordia University (1994), and was made Chevalier de l’Ordre National de Québec (1993).