Prairie Sketches – Sid Robinovitch


When was it composed?
Sid Robinovitch was commissioned to write the piece in 1985 by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.

When did it have its premiere?
Conducted by Simon Streatfeild the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra gave the first performance on February 4, 1987 at Young United Church in Winnipeg. Miriam Waddington was the narrator.

What is the instrumentation that Robinovitch uses?
1 flute, 1 oboe, 1 clarinet, 1 bassoon, piano and strings

How long does the work last?
The seven short movements take approximately 26 minutes to perform.

Seven movements?
Poems about growing up on the Prairies by Miriam Waddington gave the composer, who was also born there, the idea for his seven “sketches”.   Through his music settings he mirrors the mood and feeling that the poems create in the music of verse. Ms Waddington read her poems before each movement at the premiere performance.-

I.     Things of the world – Lively
At midnight – Lento misterioso
III.  Driving home – Allegro giocoso
IV.   The hockey players – Adagio pomposo
V.     City street – Freely
VI.    Lullaby – Gently
VII.   Liturgy – Rubato

The text of the poems are available here.

Is it possible to hear the piece or excerpts from it?
Unfortunately, though the premiere performance was recorded by the CBC for broadcast on Mostly Music it never went into general release.


Sid Robinovitch

 “When people ask me why I do this, I often quip that it’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Then I quickly qualify this by saying that it is actually a very clean job and nobody has to do it. Sometimes I say that I really wanted to be a chartered accountant, but my family insisted that I go into music.” – Sid Robinovitch in an interview with CBC. 

  • A native of Winnipeg Sid Rabinovitch was a professor of social sciences at York University anda part-time composer until 1977 when he devoted himself entirely to composing.
  • In addition to his concert works, he has composed for film, radio and TV. He is probably best known for his theme for CBC-TV’s satirical comedy series, “The Newsroom.”
  • His music includes original pieces based on folk-tales from around the world and arrangements of Judeo-Spanish folk-songs. Many of his works are rooted in traditional or folk material, though they often have a distinctly contemporary flavor as well.

A complete biography and audio and video excerpts from his works can be found at his official website:



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