Born in Montreal, Quebec, she studied at the McGill Conservatory of Music with Alfred De Sève and Alfred Whitehead. From 1928 to 1934, she studied at the Curtis Institute of Music with Lea Luboshutz, Louis Bailly, Artur Rodziński, Fritz Reiner and Carl Flesch. In 1940, she founded the Montreal Women's Symphony Orchestra, which she conducted until 1960. For many years she taught on the faculty of the Conservatoire de musique du Québec à Montréal.
In 1979 she was made a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2003 she was made a Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec. In 1980 she was awarded a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa degree from Concordia University.
David Gutnick of the CBC Radio One program The Sunday Edition produced a radio documentary about the Montreal Women's Symphony Orchestra in April 2012. You can hear the orchestra and interview segments with Ethel Stark and musicians Pearl Aronoff (Rosemarin), Lyse Vezina and Violet Grant States who was the first black woman in a Canadian symphony orchestra and the first black woman symphony musician to play Carnegie Hall. You also hear from musicologist Maria Noriega who wrote her master's thesis (University of Calgary) and is writing a phd on women in classical music in Canada.
A park in Montreal has been named after her. Parc Ethel-Stark is located at the corner of Prince-Arthur Ouest and Clark streets.
- Ethel Stark at The Canadian Encyclopedia
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