Klement Hambourg, violinist, conductor and scion of a famous musical family, passed away peacefully at Rockyview General Hospital on October 22, 2018. His grandfather, Professor Michael Hambourg, a distinguished Russian pianist and teacher, brought his family to Toronto in 1911 and, with his two sons Jan and Boris, established the Hambourg Conservatory of Music. It was in this environment that Klement spent his formative years, studying at both the Hambourg Conservatory and the Royal Conservatory of Music where he earned his Associate degree in 1946. Major teachers include Harry Adaskan, Geza deKresz (members of the renowned Hart House String Quartet) and Orrea Pernel in Switzerland. From 1950-1954 Klement was a member of the Pro-Musica String Trio with his uncle Boris Hambourg, cellist. He also played on one of the original Hart House viols in the Toronto Renaissance Ensemble.
Although Klement has always been active as a performer, he chose to pursue a career in music education, establishing a highly successful string and orchestra program in the Oshawa Public School System in 1954. Three years later he initiated a similar program in Peterborough, Ontario where, in addition to youth groups, he also conducted the Peterborough Chamber Orchestra. Granted a year’s leave of absence in 1961, he set off for London, England where he studied with the noted English violinist Frederick Grinke and earned advanced degrees from the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College of Music London. At the end of his sabbatical he was offered a position at Newton Park College in Bath, as string specialist and orchestra conductor. Soon after settling into Newton Park he married Leonie Maria Lang and their two daughters – Tanya and Corinne, were born soon after. They later became excellent musicians in their own right.
In 1967 the Hambourgs returned to Peterborough where Klement took over his former position in the public schools. He also laid the groundwork for the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra, which elicited strong community support and has just completed its 50th anniversary. It is now one of the city’s major arts organizations. With the Symphony a going concern, Klement decided to move on to a new academic environment. This he found at Western Oregon University. The orchestra thrived and Klement became recognized throughout the region. He was also one of the “originals” in the Oregon Bach Festival of 1969 directed by Helmuth Rilling and played as assistant concertmaster for ten years. In 1975 Klement and Leonie spent a sabbatical year in Eugene at the University of Oregon where Klement completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree and Leonie her Master’s degree in German.
In 1982, following two years with the Tanglewood Young Artists Program, Tanya and Corinne enrolled in Boston University to earn Bachelor of Music degrees. Klement and Leonie decided to follow suit resulting in Klement’s appointment as Associate Professor of Music at Lebanon Valley College of Pennsylvania. He served the college community in a variety of ways – as teacher, conductor, performer and clinician and also established the LVC Honours Orchestra – an annual event, which brought promising young string players to the college each year. Leonie became a member of the German department at LVC and was noted for her excellent teaching skills.
Following retirement, Klement and Leonie moved to Victoria, B.C. where their daughter Corinne was a member of the Victoria Symphony. Here Klement founded and directed the Celebration of Chamber Music series. In 2010 Klement and Leonie departed for Toronto where Klement was active in the Arts and Letters Club, both as a performer and event organizer. Of particular significance was the Centennial Celebration of the Hambourg Conservatory in 2011, a singular event, which drew a capacity audience and wide acclaim. Their daughter, Tanya, teaches violin and viola at the Nevada School of the Arts and is a professional violist. She lives in Henderson, Nevada with her husband, Shawn. Klement and Leonie have been residing in Calgary since 2013, living close to their daughter, Corinne and son-in-law, Murray. Corinne teaches for the Calgary Board of Education at Bowcroft School and Murray teaches classical guitar at Mount Royal University. Klement and Leonie are also proud grandparents of their talented grandson, Gavin, a budding young classical guitarist.
Klement’s family would like to express sincere gratitude to Bowcroft School, the Nevada School of the Arts and our dear friends and family for their support during this time. A special thank you to Herbert Visscher and family for spending so much time with Klement over the past few years. We would also like to thank Dr. Tam, Dr. Wong and the nurses and staff at the Rockyview General Hospital for their outstanding care.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra which Dr. Hambourg founded.