Renowned North American conductor Boris Brott killed in hit and run

6 April 2022, 10:47 | Updated: 6 April 2022, 11:58

Boris Brott was the artistic director and conductor of the Orchestre classique de Montréal.
Boris Brott was the artistic director and conductor of the Orchestre classique de Montréal. Picture: Getty

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

Boris Brott was “a renowned leader in the world of classical music, a mentor to countless young musicians, and a very dear friend to so many”.

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Boris Brott, artistic director and conductor of the Orchestre classique de Montréal, died yesterday following a fatal hit-and-run pedestrian collision in Hamilton, Canada.

The 78-year-old Canadian conductor was hit by a car at around 10.20am [EDT]. The driver fled the scene but was later arrested by the police.

Brott was taken to hospital following the incident, and shortly died of his injuries.

“The entire OCM family is in a state of disbelief,” the Orchestre classique de Montréal shared on its Twitter page following the news. “Boris Brott was the beating heart of the Orchestre classique de Montréal. A renowned leader in the world of classical music in North America and beyond, a mentor to countless young musicians, and a very dear friend to so many.

“His sudden passing thus leaves a deep void in our musical community and a profound sadness in our personal lives.

“We will continue to make great music and to touch people, inspired by Boris’ standards of excellence, by his indomitable spirit, by his dedication to sharing his musical gifts with people from all walks of life, and by his love for humanity.”

The Mayor of Hamilton also shared his condolences following Brott’s death.

“Boris was not only a giant in the classical music world, he was also a giant for promoting and building Hamilton and his efforts over decades helped lift our community to new heights.

“As an Officer of the Order of Canada, a member of the Order of Ontario, the founder of orchestras and the world-renowned Brott Music Festival, Boris led performances before royalty and the Pope and was sought after by prestigious music institutions all over the world.

“Who can forget when he brought classical music directly to the working people of Hamilton with an orchestral performance in the Dofasco steel making plant? He also brought thousands of school children to his annual concert with performances planned just for them. He literally brought music to the people.

“Boris leaves a legacy of musical excellence and humanitarianism that is unmatched.”

Born in Montreal into a family of musicians, Brott was the founding artistic director of the Brott Music Festival and the professional training orchestra, the National Academy Orchestra of Canada. As well as being a conductor, Brott was also a motivational speaker and cultural ambassador.

“The Brott Family is Musical Royalty in Canada,” explained American-Canadian classical pianist Sara Davis Buechner on her Facebook page.

Brott’s father Alexander was a violinist and composer who founded the orchestra that became the Orchestre classique de Montréal. His mother was cellist Lotte Brott, and his younger brother is cellist Denis Brott.

Buechner continued: “It has been one of my greatest honors to know [the Brott family] as friends, and to work with Boris over a period of almost twenty years.”

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On Tuesday evening, the board chair of Orchestre classique de Montréal, Deborah Corber, told CBC Hamilton that “being in Boris’ presence, whether he was making music or talking about music or telling a story about music, it always made the music come alive and seem like it really was for everybody”.

Corber also confirmed that a memorial concert will be organised at a later date to celebrate the maestro’s life.

Brott is survived by his wife, Ardyth Webster Brott and their three children.