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Erica, Lois, Myron and Victor Schultz all followed in the footsteps of mother Laurane

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Laurane Schultz was a prodigy and grew up to be one of Winnipeg’s most respected and beloved musicians. (Photo: Supplied)

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The name Schultz is synonymous with one of Winnipeg, Manitoba’s renowned musical families. 

It all started with Laurane Schultz, a talented child pianist. 

Today, her legacy continues as her four children, Erica, Lois, Myron and Victor, have each carved out impressive careers in music. 

Born Lily Greenberg on May 14, 1926, her Russian-Polish immigrant family settled first in Regina, then moved to Winnipeg in 1929. She started piano lessons at five, but her teacher thought her name was too drab for future stardom, so it was changed to Laurane (pronounced Lorraine.) 

Schultz’s second child Lois, told the Winnipeg Free Press’ Gabriel Pice that Laurane was actually born two months earlier.  “Her children say the piano teacher might have lied so she could enter (her) student into qualifying competitions.” As a youngster, Schultz learned much of the most difficult repertoire by ear before she could read music. 

She won numerous competitions and played on her own weekly CBC Winnipeg Radio show, but had some unhappy experiences with a teacher, which left her with nightmares. Reflecting later, she realized her experience with this teacher was her introduction to antisemitism.  

After high school, Laurane studied piano in Montreal, then won a scholarship to study with Joseph Raieff at Juilliard in New York. In her early twenties, she received a scholarship to study under Soulima Stravinsky in Santa Barbara, CA.  Nonetheless, Schultz said that her greatest piano teacher was Winnipeg’s John Melnyk.  

In late 1950, she returned to Winnipeg for a family visit, married Albert Schultz, and as her first-born child Erica explained, “I don’t think she ever looked back.” 

The four Schultz children were always surrounded by music, with front row seats to enjoy the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and at their mother’s family concerts at home.  But Laurane was shy, and often played with no one around.  Victor Schultz told the Winnipeg Free Press, “I remember sitting outside the window just listening.”  

Her children each studied music – Erica plays piano and harp; Lois, the flute; Victor, the violin, and Myron, the clarinet. Erica and Victor both attended Juilliard. Victor is based in New York City. Erica teaches piano in Winnipeg. Lois has been involved in concert and event production. 

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Myron initially played the piano and violin, but made the switch to clarinet. He was first introduced to Klezmer music after joining the orchestra of the Chai Folk Ensemble in 1975. Myron and Victor helped co-found the klezmer band Finjan. They toured North America during the 1980s and 1990s. The group’s activities slowed, but never stopped completely. 

Their six members reunited in 2012 for a 30th anniversary concert at the Mameloshen Festival of Yiddish Entertainment and Culture in Winnipeg, and in 2013 at the Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto. The group’s recording, Dancing on Water, highlights Victor Schultz’ solo violin rendition of Haneros Halelu.  

For the Canadian Music Centre, Victor’s recording “Jete” features fellow Canadian composers Patrick Carrabre, Gerhard Ginader, James Hiscott, Michael Matthews, Sid Robinovitch and Bruce Shavers. 

Myron and Victor also helped form the North End Klezmer Product, which morphed into its current incarnation, The Black Sea Station, which Myron referred to as “our post-post Finjan band.” The group includes Vancouver’s Grammy Award winning songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and music producer Ben Mink, Winnipeg multi-instrumentalist Daniel Koulack (also of Finjan) and Moldovan-American accordionist Nicolai Prisacar. And later they formed the Mayors of Sambor. 

An active freelance musician, Victor Schultz has recorded and toured extensively as a violin soloist. Myron has performed with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and has recorded with Chava Alberstein, Bruce Cockburn, Leaf Rapids and k.d. lang. 

Lois told the Winnipeg Free Press, “Mom put us out there… She created the next generation. But then, when that job of hers was done, she started finding out that she had lots of other interests.”  

Pice reports, “Giving, welcoming and patient, (Laurane) Schultz was more than a piano prodigy, her children say, she led by example. “You treat all people with kindness and care and respect,” Victor said. “Our parents embodied this.” Laurane Schultz passed away in Winnipeg, Manitoba on January 25, 2020. 

David Eisenstadt is Founding Partner of tcgpr.com, the Canadian Partner of IPREX Global Communication.  He is a graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and the University of Calgary

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