Roman Toi

Estonian-born Canadian composer, choral conductor and organist Roman Toi was born in Kõo Parish, Viljandi County, on 18 June 1916. After initial studies in Montreux, he was a student of Clemens Krauss at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg, and then worked in Europe for six years, conducting and writing music for choirs, radio and theatre.

He emigrated to Canada in 1949, initially to Montreal, moved to Toronto in 1951 and took Canadian citizenship in 1957. In Toronto, he conducted the Estonian Male Choir and then, later, the Estonian Mixed Choir. He was organist-choirmaster at the Centennial United Church, and also guest-conducted internationally at choral festivals.

From 1971 until 1973 he studied composition with Samuel Dolin at the Royal Conservatory of Music, and then began teaching theory, conducting and composition at the same establishment.

In 1976 he founded the Estonia Choir, and toured with them in North America, Israel, Australia and Estonia.

His music is lyrical, melodic and melancholic, influenced by Vaughan Williams. Many of his compositions have become standard repertoire in Estonia. At his death in Toronto on 7 May 2018, aged 101, he left over eighty choral works, three symphonies and nine cantatas.