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Tuesday August 28, 2018


On August 23, 2018, after a brief illness, Eli Kassner passed away peacefully at the Baycrest Apotex Centre in Toronto, Ontario. He was 94. Keeping him in loving memory are his daughters, Annick Mitchell, Danielle Kassner (Guillermo Perez-Quer); his stepson, Stephen Halman (Rita Janzen); and his grandsons, Jacob Mitchell, Benjamin Mitchell and Gabriel Perez-Kassner. He was predeceased (2017) by Ann, his wife and dearest companion of many years. He will be greatly missed by his extensive family of friends, colleagues and students in the international world of the classical guitar.
He was born in Vienna, Austria, and as a 15-year-old left for Israel in 1939, where he met his first wife, Noémi, the mother of his children. Following his brother's call to move to Canada in 1951, he made a name for himself as a multi-talented artist, becoming most noted for his contributions to the teaching of the classical guitar at the Toronto Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music. An accomplished performance artist himself, he also founded the Toronto Guitar Society in 1959. Under his leadership his vision of holding an international guitar festival and performance competition in Toronto became a reality with the establishment of the Toronto Guitar Festival in 1975, which has since served as the model for subsequent festivals worldwide.
Among many other honours, Eli was the recipient of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012) and the Order of Canada (2016) in recognition of his life's work.
The family wishes to thank the staff of the Apotex Centre and his caregivers, Chromy Magalona and Lourdes Ferrer. Visitation will be on Saturday, September 1, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. with a farewell service to follow at 2:00 p.m. Both events will take place at Mount Pleasant Funeral Centre, 375 Mount Pleasant Road, Toronto. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Baycrest Foundation.

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