Murray Adaskin was a Toronto-born Canadian violinist, composer, conductor and teacher. After playing violin with a band, he studied composition and became the director of the Music department of the University of Saskatchewan. Many of his compositions were written while in Victoria after his retirement. Born in Toronto, Ontario, to Jewish Latvian immigrant parents who raised their four children to become persevering kids, Adaskin studied the violin with Alexander Chuhaldin at the Toronto Conservatory of Music.
He began his career playing the violin in silent film presentations in his native city. Afterwards, he was a violinist with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from 1923 to 1936. He married his first wife, soprano Frances James, around that time. From 1938 to 1952 he was with the Royal York Hotel trio. By 38 years of age, he studied for seven years with John Weinzweig to become a composer. Other composers he studied with include Charles Jones and Darius Milhaud. He was head of the Department of Music at the University of Saskatchewan from 1952 to 1966, including four years as conductor of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra. He then became the Composer-in-Residence until 1972, the first position of its type ever created at a Canadian university.
Among his notable pupils were composers Boyd McDonald, Paul Pedersen, Rodney Sharman and Timothy Williams; and violinist Andrew Dawes. By 1972, he retired to Victoria where he started composing more than half his total of 130 compositions.