Collection 020 - Paul Helmer's "Growing with Canada" Collection

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Paul Helmer's "Growing with Canada" Collection

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  • Textual record

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Physical description

60 cm of textual records

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Biographical history

Biographical Sketch
Dr. Paul Helmer is a Canadian pianist and musicologist, and a former associate professor of musicology at the Schulich School of Music, McGill University. Born October 18, 1938 in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Paul Helmer’s principal piano teachers were Alberto Guerrero and Béla Böszörmeny-Nagy. He holds a certificate in piano performance from the University of Toronto (A.Dip. ’58), a Bachelor of Arts in German from the University of Toronto (B.A. ’66), as well as two degrees in historical musicology from the ColumbiaUniversity (M.A. ’68, Ph.D. ’75). An accomplished performer, Dr. Helmer made his debut with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at the age of fifteen, and has since appeared with numerous Canadian orchestras. He participated in the Canadian premieres of Messiaen's Turangalîla-Symphonie (1964) and Boulez’ Structures for Piano, Book II (1966, with Bruce Mather), as well as the North American premiere of Ivan Wyschnegradsky’s Premier Fragment Symphonique, Étude sur les mouvements rotatoires, and the world premieres of John Weinzweig’s Piano Concerto (1966) and Istvan Anhalt’s La Tourangelle (1975). Dr. Helmer has collaborated with Cathy Berberian, Victor Braun, Angèle Dubeau, Rivka Golan and Moshe Hammer, as well as the Orford String Quartet, the Tudor Singers of Montreal, the Elmer Iseler Singers, and the Festival Wind Soloists. He has also made numerous recordings for CBC radio and television. Dr. Helmer’s research interests include medieval music – specifically Western liturgical chant – and the influence of European immigration on the musical landscape of Canada. He published an edition of Le Premier et le secont livre de Fauvel (1997), a reconstruction of the twelfth-century mass Missa Sancti Iacobi (1988), and the monograph, Growing with Canada: The Émigré Tradition in Canadian Music (2009).

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Scope and content

Paul Helmer’s "Growing with Canada" Collection constitutes an important resource for research in Canadian music and culture of the twentieth century. Canadian music and culture of the twentieth century. The Collection has been divided into seven series and contains approximately 1 140 items. Of particular interest are the edited interview transcripts (S.1 and S.7, available in print and .pdf, respectively), which Dr. Helmer had intended Paul Helmer Finding Aid Page 3 of 18 17 July 2014 as the second volume of his project. The Collection also contains the raw material for these edited transcripts: namely, the unedited transcripts and audio recordings themselves, as well as biographical information for each “émigré” musician discussed (with correspondence, copies of source material and photographs), copies of primary and secondary sources on immigration and internment, and miscellaneous items, including correspondence, unused research materials and notes relating to the book launch for "Growing with Canada".

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Gift from Dr. Paul Helmer.


Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script note

Collection material is primarily in English. Some items in German.

Location of originals

Series 1 and much of Series 2-5 were provided to the Marvin Duchow Music Library on CD-R as “Interviews: Growing with Canada” and “Growing with Canada Files, Feb. 2011.” These CD-Rs together comprise Series 7.

Availability of other formats

The collection entry can be found at:

Restrictions on access

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Paul Helmer’s "Growing with Canada" Collection is open to research. Certain restrictions on use, copying and/or publication of materials may apply. Researchers are advised to contact the Marvin Duchow Music Library prior to visiting.

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No further accruals are expected.


The status of copyright on the contents of Paul Helmer’s "Growing with Canada" Collection is governed by the Copyright Law of Canada.

Preferred citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: Paul Helmer’s "Growing with Canada" Collection, box number, folder number, series number, Marvin Duchow Music Library, McGill University, Montréal, Québec.

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First processed in May 2014 by Eric Braley and edited by Sharon Rankin.
Revision 17 July 2014; updated and entered into AtoM by Geneviève Beaudry, May 2019.

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