Walter Buczynski, composer and pianist, is one of Canada's most esteemed musicians. Born in Toronto in 1933 he studied theory at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and with Godfrey Ridout, piano with Earle Moss and with the renowned Rosina Lhevinne in New York. He made his orchestral debut in 1955 with the Toronto Symphony under the baton of Henry Rzepus playing the Chopin F minor piano concerto. In 1960 he was the first Canadian ever to compete in the prestigious Chopin Competition in Warsaw. He continued his studies in composition with Darius Milhaud in Aspen, Colorado (winning the Fromm Award in 1955), and in Paris 1960-62 with the legendary Nadia Boulanger.
From 1962 to 1969 Walter Buczynski taught piano and theory at the Royal Conservatory of Music. In 1969 he joined the University of Toronto Faculty of Music as professor of Theory and Composition. His compositions have been performed from coast to coast and in Europe and the United States. He has been recorded and broadcast frequently on radio and television by such distinguished artists as William Aide, Robert Aitken, Antonin Kubalek, Mary Morrison, Mark Dubois, Mark Pedrotti, Lorna MacDonald, Michael Colvin, Doug MacNaughton, Joe Macerollo, Gregory Oh, Mark Fewer, Peter Longworth, Scott Irvine, Marie Berard, James McKay, Phillip Candelaria, and Steven Dann. His music is played by ensembles such as the Canadian Brass, Purcell String Quartet, and Accordes String Quartet; and by conductors such as Franz Paul Decker, Boris and Alexander Brott, Gary Kulesha, Roy Goodman, Lukas Foss, John Avison, Raffi Armenian, Victor Feldbrill, Victor Di Bello, and Simon Streatfeild.
His compositional catalogue contains works for solo piano including 12 sonatas, 6 string quartets, the Cameo Series (solo wind and string trio), 23 Lyrics for solo voice or instruments and orchestral ensemble, songs for all voices, choral works and a multitude of pieces for accordion, guitar, bassoon, tuba, harp, and flugelhorn.
In 1977 he received the Queen Elizabeth medal for achievement and development of Canadian culture. In 1992 he received the Governor General's 125th Commemorative medal. In 2008 the Polish Government bestowed on him the Gloria Artis medal for his musical achievement and body of work.
Walter Buczynski was President of the Canadian League of Composers from 1974 to 1975.
After 30 years of teaching Professor Buczynski retired from the University, and is currently Professor Emeritus. He continues to compose and has resumed his concert career.
In 2014 he celebrated his 80th year by having concerts preformed of his music at the Faculty of Music, U of T, the Arts and Letters Club, Canadian Music Centre, Syrinx Concert Series, and at the Leith Historic Church in Leith. Performers included, pianists Gregory Oh, Peter Longworth, William Aide, Ilya Poletaev, Richard Herriott, and Walter Buczynski. Other musicians included Melanie Conly, soprano, Joe Macerollo, accordion, Mark Fewer, violin and the Talisker Quartet.
Walter Buczynski completed, recorded and concertized his sesquicentennial project of 36 piano sonatas in 2017 for Canada 150.