RIP: Canadian Music Industry Icon Jan Vladimír Matějček (1926-2017)

JanJan Vladimír Matějček, an iconic and longtime member of the Canadian music industry and the first-ever CEO of SOCAN, passed away peacefully on Saturday, Sept. 23rd, 2017 surrounded by his family.

Matějček was a lawyer, music editor, publisher, and administrator. He made a career of championing music and the rights of its creators, having begun his career as a Foreign Relations Secretary of the Guild of Czechoslovak Composers.

From 1961-62, he was Managing Director of the Prague Symphony Orchestra. From ’64-’66, he was head and GM of the music department at the Czechoslovak theatrical and literary agency. In 1966, he became Directory General of Panton, the Guild of Czechoslovak Composers’ music publishing house.

He fled communism in Prague in 1968 and ended up in Germany, quickly landing a post with Schott Sohne GmBH, one of Germany’s oldest music publishers.

It was 1969 that he emigrated to Canada and began consulting for the Canadian Music Centre.

In 1970, he became Executive Secretary of the Ontario Federation of Symphony Orchestras (OFSO) and then became the first Executive Director of the Ontario Choral Federation.

In the subsequent years, he initiated the formation of the Association of Symphony Orchestras and was a member of its founding board. As such, he organized the first overseas tour of the Festival Singers of Canada. Then, he organized concerts of Canadian orchestral music in Paris. In 1977, he organized and arranged a festival of Canadian music, art, and film, in Bonn, Saarbrucken, and Strassbourg.

During that time, he was invited to join the administration of CAPAC (the Composers, Authors, and Publishers Association of Canada). In 1977, he became assistant GM of PROCAN (the Performing Rights Organization of Canada) in charge of the international division. In 1980, he became GM of the organization and, in 1984, became its President.

In 1986, he was appointed to the executive committee of CISAC (the International Council of Composer, Authors, and Publishers). Still the President of PROCAN, he spearheaded the merging of Canada’s two performing rights societies at the time (PROCAN and CAPAC) to form a single organization, the Society of Composers, Authors, and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN).

In 1990, he was appointed as SOCAN’s first CEO and, after a career ripe with accomplishments and accolades, announced his retirement in 1992.

In 1996, he published The History of BMI Canada Ltd. & PROCAN: Their Role in Canadian Music and in the Formation of SOCAN (1940-1990).

In 1999, he was invited to hold two lectures about copyright and its implications worldwide at the Law Faculty of Charles University in Prague. That year, he was appointed a member of the Artistic Advisory (programme) Committee of the “Prague Spring” council of the International “Prague Spring” Music Festival.

Canadian Musician sends condolences to Jan’s family, friends, and many peers in the Canadian and international music communities.

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Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief at Canadian Musician and Canadian Music Trade magazines. He also hosts the Canadian Musician Podcast.
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