Fonds MG 282 - David Kaplan fonds

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David Kaplan fonds

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MG 282

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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  • 1744-2014 (Creation)

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Physical description

17 metres of textual records
audio cassettes
reel to reel audio tape
audio and photo cds
one VHS tape
78, 45 and 33 1/3 rpm records
rare books and sheet music

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

David Leon Kaplan was born in Chicago on December 12, 1923 and grew up in a musical family. His father, Joshua Samuel played euphonium in a Russian army band and later in Chicago brass bands. His mother, Nettie (née Lurie), born in Lithuania, was a student of the piano. David served with the United States Army Sothern Command Variety Ensemble from 1942 until 1946 under the direction of Major Wayne King, known as the “Waltz King of America”. Kaplan credited his wartime service for exposing him to new musicians and new musical styles, including jazz. Over the next number of years he earned a series of degrees - Bachelor of Music from Roosevelt University (1948), Master of Music from Oberlin College (1950) and a PhD in Music from the University of Indiana (1978). He taught music in Chicago, rural Illinois and West Texas State University before moving to Saskatoon in 1960 and a two-year term position at the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Education. He remained at the U of S for the rest of his career and served as Department of Music head from 1966 to 1982, introducing several new programs. He taught courses in music history, theory and world music until his retirement in 1991. In addition to his academic career, Dr. Kaplan was very active in the music and social life of his newly adopted community. He conducted the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (SSO) from 1963 to 1969 and again from 1970 to 1971. He also composed music for plays and musical productions, adjudicated at music festivals, gave public lectures and wrote about the clarinet and music education. A number of organizations benefited from Dr. Kaplan’s involvement, including the Canadian Music Council, the Canadian Music Centre, the Saskatchewan Arts Board, the Nutana Rotary Club and the Saskatoon Multicultural Council. He was founding chair of the Saskatchewan Music Council in 1967. He co-founded the Saskatoon Festival of Faith bringing together people of different faiths, including aboriginals, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and others, to express their spiritual traditions through speech, music and dance. He was the festival’s music director from 1985 to 1989 and wrote five choral works on multicultural themes. An impromptu jam session at a bar mitzvah at the Congregation Agudas Israel synagogue led Kaplan to found Zmarim: the Saskatoon Klezmer Band. He went on to write more than 200 arrangements for the ensemble. The inaugural Saskatoon Klezmer Music Festival was held in November, 2007. He was also an avid collector of musical instruments and donated his personal collection of almost 200 instruments to the University of Saskatchewan in early 2013. Kaplan received numerous honours, including the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit and induction into the Order of Canada. In 2009, he was named ambassador of the Canadian Music Centre in recognition of his life’s work. Kaplan Green, in Arbor Creek, a residential neighbourhood in northeast Saskatoon, was named in his honour. He died in Saskatoon on April 6, 2015.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This fond documents the life and career of David Kaplan. It contains material related to his family, academic and teaching career and community involvement.

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This fonds has been organized into seven series:

1. Music and the Community. – 1938-2012.
2. Clippings. – 1960-2010.
3. Academic career. – nd, 1958-2009.
4. Personal/family. – 1923-2012.
5. Research, publications and music by Kaplan. – nd, 1948-2012.
6. “Jewish Stuff”. – nd, 1955-2005.
7. Miscellaneous. - nd, 1744-2006.

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Files marked as RESTRICTED require vetting by the archivist before release. All restrictions are applied as per privacy legislation.

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