Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/4/2009 (2996 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Melnyk died on Saturday at his home on St. Cross Street. He was 93 years old.
Born in Winnipeg to Ukrainian parents and raised in the North End, Melnyk attained a high standard as a pianist. He toured in the 1930s and '40s as an accompanist for artists such as soprano Olga Lepkhova. He started teaching at age 14 and had students for 75 years.
"He was a musical icon in the piano-teaching community," said piano teacher Michael Oike.
Melnyk kept three grand pianos in his home studio. He was particularly well respected for accompanying his students' performances of piano concertos by thundering out the orchestral part on another piano.
"He would play (the orchestral parts) with tremendous enthusiasm and integrity," said Melnyk's son John, who is also a pianist. "It was never just accompanying to him. He did his best to sound like an orchestra."
Thousands of Winnipeggers, including second generations of many families, passed through Melnyk's studio. He made a positive mark on all of them, his son said.
"All those people's lives were enriched with music, and the discipline of the study. I've been hearing from a lot of former students, saying what a wonderful experience it was."
Melnyk first competed in the Winnipeg Music Festival in 1926 at the age of 11. He was involved for decades as a competitor, accompanist and teacher. His students won the Aikins Memorial Trophy for best senior instrumentalist 24 times.
Arnold Spohr was one of Melnyk's piano students who went on to a distinguished career in the arts, leading the Royal Winnipeg Ballet for 30 years.
In 1996, family and friends donated the John Melnyk Trophy to the Winnipeg Music Festival to mark Melnyk's 70th year of association with the festival. The trophy is awarded annually for the most outstanding performance in a piano concerto class, Levels 8 to Honours.
Melnyk is survived by his wife Irene, sons John and David and extended family.
Donations are being collected by the Winnipeg Music Festival, 2-88 St. Anne's Road, R2M 2Y7, toward the John Melnyk Bursary Fund to endow an annual scholarship for the best performance of a piano concerto.