Sampson, Peggie, 1912-2004

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Sampson, Peggie, 1912-2004

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Peggie (Margaret) Sampson, musician and teacher, was born on 16 February 1912 in Edinburgh, Scotland, daughter of astronomer Ralph Sampson and Ida Binney. Growing up in Edinburgh, Sampson began her study of the cello at the age of eight, studying with Ruth Waddell and later in London and Portugal with Guilhermina Suggia. In 1929, Sampson enrolled at the University of Edinburgh and took classes with Donald Francis Tovey. During the summers, she travelled to Paris to study under Diran Alexanian at the Normale de Musique and privately with Nadia Boulanger. She graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1932. During the 1930s, Sampson performed in England and Holland, and she served as Tovey's teaching assistant between 1937 and 1944. Sampson studied under Pablo Casals in the 1940s and performed with the Carter Trio while also performing as a freelance cellist in recitals throughout England.

In 1951, Sampson relocated to Canada to take a teaching position at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, where she taught music theory, history and cello. She also taught cello to private students. Sampson continued to be an active performer as a soloist as well as a member of the Corydon Trio and the University Chamber Music Group. By 1960, Sampson began to perform on the viola da gamba, and she spent a year earning her doctorate from the University of Edinburgh, studying performance and the teaching of music to young children. In 1963, she formed the Manitoba University Consort with Christine Mather. The group played in Canada at Expo '67, at the opening of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and toured in Europe. By the time the Consort disbanded in 1970, Sampson was performing exclusively on the viola da gamba.

Sampson left Winnipeg in 1970 to teach theory and viola da gamba at York University in Toronto and became a prominent viola da gambist during the 1970s, performing throughout Canada and in Europe. Most notably, she performed solos in Bach's "Passions", appeared at the Aldeburgh Festival, and premiered works by Bernard Naylor ("On hearing Mrs. Arabella Hunt singing", 1970), Murray Adaskin ("Two pieces", 1972), David Rosenboom ("The seduction of Sapientia", 1975) and Rudolf Komorous ("At your memory the transparent tears fall like molten lead", 1976), which were commissioned by Sampson to expand the modern repertoire for the viola da gamba. At the University of Toronto during this period, she performed with the Hart House Consort of Viols, and she taught at the University of Victoria's summer school between 1973 and 1975. Sampson formed the Quatre en Concert with Christine Harvey, Michael Purves-Smith and Deryck Aird, and they performed across Canada and in Holland between 1976 and 1978. After retiring from full-time teaching at York University in 1977, she taught part-time at Wilfrid Laurier University until 1984.

Sampson was awarded with the Canadian Music Council medal in 1985, an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in 1987, and an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from York University in 1988. Peggie Sampson died on 17 May 2004.

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