Robert Swerdlow

Musician - Pianist

Robert Swerdlow has been an active member of the artistic community for over fifty years where he has contributed as an accompanist, composer, lyricist, producer and director. His musicals, dance compositions and theatre pieces have been performed by major companies and artists in North America and Europe. As an accompanist, he has worked with The National Ballet of Canada, The National Ballet School, Ballet BC, Les Ballets Jazz, The Royal Winnipeg, Alberta Ballet, La La La Human Steps, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Paris Opera, Metropolitan Opera Dance Co., Tokyo Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, The Joffrey, Monte Carlo Classic Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and Ottawa Ballet, where he was director of development and resident composer.
He began in the mid-fifties in Montreal in the studios of Elsie Salomons, Séda Zaré, Elizabeth Leese, Sonia Chamberlain, Eva von Gencsy. Then he moved to New York to play for Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Matt Mattox, Luigi, Alexandra Danilova, Agnes de Mille, Anthony Tudor, and on to Europe for Roland Petit, Erik Bruhn, Alicia Alonso, Rosalia Chladek, John Babilée, Rosella Hightower, Alice Nikitina, Serge Golavine, and the famed Lubov Egorova in the early sixties in Paris.
Among Mr. Swerdlow’s most noted compositions are 33, a full-length ballet commissioned by the State Conservatoire Ballet Company of Vienna, performed throughout Europe as part of Les Jeunesses Musicales programme for dancers. “The Playing Field”, commisioned by The National Ballet School, based on William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” and performed regularly by the National Ballet School’s graduating students; “The Tin Soldier Ballet”, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale starring Frank Augustyn, performed at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa each Christmas from 1992-95, and still continues to be shown on the CBC and the Disney Channel.
His musical, Justine, for which he wrote the music, book and lyrics ran for over one year in Toronto and then went to Off-Broadway where it won a prestigious Obie award, and remains to this day the longest running Canadian musical to ever play New York. As a result, he is one of the few Canadians to receive the honour of being inducted into the Dramatist Guild of America.
Mr. Swerdlow founded and was artistic director of Toronto’s famed “Global Village Theatre” for seven years. This avant-garde establishment housed a company of twenty performing artists and produced over one hundred original Canadian theatre pieces and dance works between 1969 and 1976, including Toronto’s first permanent production of Michele Tremblay’s Hosanna.
During this period, he created “Modern Fables”, a children’s performance group, which toured Ontario primary schools for over thirty years.
His songs have been recorded by such artists as Ginette Reno, Chris Christofferson, T. Farmer, Salome Bey, Bobbi Chapman and the Tony award winning Alexis Smith.
Mr. Swerdlow is currently semi-retired but continues to compose, guests for visiting dance companies and, best of all, is part of the accompanists’ team at the École de danse contemporaine de Montréal.

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