John Weinzweig

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 0
Silver 1
Bronze 0
Total 1
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameJohn Jacob•Weinzweig
Used nameJohn•Weinzweig
Other namesJean Weinzweig
Born11 March 1913 in Toronto, Ontario (CAN)
Died24 August 2006 in Toronto, Ontario (CAN)
NOC Canada


John Weinzweig, son of Polish Jewish immigrants, was one of Canada’s greatest classical music composers. He took up music as a high school student and studied multiple instruments, eventually attending the Toronto Conservatory of Music and earning a bachelor’s degree in music in 1937. Subsequently, he completed his studies in Rochester, New York. In 1939, Weinzweig started teaching at the Conservatory. He also began composing in the late 1930s, mainly for radio, but his career was interrupted by World War II, in which he served with the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1943 through 1945. Upon his return he gave up radio and turned to composing concert music. He submitted a piece, Divertimento No 1 for Solo Flute and Strings, to the instrumental and chamber music category of the art competitions at the 1948 Summer Olympics and won silver, the highest honor in the competition, as no gold medal was awarded.

Weinzweig was one of only two Canadian medalists ever in the art competitions, the other being Tait McKenzie, who won bronze in the medals and reliefs category at the 1932 Games. Weinzweig’s Divertimento was completed in 1946 and premiered in Vancouver in December of the same year. It consists of three movements (I. Fast and playful; II. Slow; III. Moderately fast, fast) and is approximately 11-minutes long. His second entry, Of Time and the World, known as beginning in 1947 Of Time, Rain and the World, was his first work for solo voice. It comprises three short songs for medium voice and piano based on single words and short phrases from Rogetʼs Thesaurus, arranged by the composer.

Weinzweig joined the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music in 1952 and was instrumental in forming several important Canadian music institutions during the 1950s, such as the Canadian League of Composers and the Canadian Music Centre. Retiring from the University in 1978, he continued composing through the 1990s and remained active as a promoter of Canadian classical music until his death in 2006, leaving behind a legacy as one of Canada’s most prolific and prominent composers. Among his many honors, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1974 and received the Order of Ontario in 1988.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1948 Summer Olympics Art Competitions CAN John Weinzweig
Music, Instrumental And Chamber, Open (Olympic) 2 Silver
Music, Vocals, Open (Olympic) AC