Jan V. Matejcek Photo courtesy SOCAN
Jan V. Matejcek Photo courtesy SOCAN

RIP: Jan V. Matejcek, SOCAN's First CEO

Jan Vladimir Matejcek, the leading founder and first CEO of SOCAN, passed away peacefully in Toronto on Sept. 23, at the age of 90, surrounded by his family.

His enduring legacy was as a champion of composers', authors' and publishers' rights, an international lawyer, a business executive and a tireless supporter of Canadian creators of music.

Matejcek led the way in merging the two former Canadian performing rights organizations – PROCAN and CAPAC (the Canadian Authors' and Publishers' Association of Canada) – into SOCAN in 1990.

The merger, recognized by CISAC, the international umbrella group for music and authors’ rights organizations, was a “unique historic moment in the life of performing societies.”

In 1990, Matejcek became the first appointed CEO of the newly-created SOCAN, and after retiring in 1992, PRO recognized his enormous contribution to performing rights by creating the annual Jan V. Matejcek New Classical Music Award, presented every year at the annual SOCAN Awards ceremonies in both Toronto and Montréal.

“SOCAN is now mourning the loss, and celebrating Jan's life," said SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste. "Jan was one of the greatest champions of music creators that the world has seen. As our first CEO, Matejcek set the extremely high standard to which SOCAN continues to strive to this day. We are honoured that he served as our first leader, and we’re proud to continue to recognize him – as we have for the past 25 years – with our annual classical music award in his name.”

Matejcek was born in Hamburg, Germany, the son of the General Consul of Czechoslovakia, on December 29, 1926.

After receiving his law degree from Charles University, he went on to study musicology. He settled on pursuing a life-long career in promoting music and helping composers and musicians. Matejcek was gifted with an exceptional talent for establishing new organizations to champion these causes and for bringing people with similar passion together using his energy, language and people skills to work across borders, as he always believed that music and talent knew no national boundaries.

To that end, Matejcek continued throughout his life to write, lecture and act on questions of music, the arts and copyright internationally.

Among his many positions, he was the Managing Director of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, Foreign Relations Secretary of the Guild of Czechoslovak Composers and CEO of Panton, the Guild's publishing house, and prolific author of articles on classical music and classical composers in the international music press.

Shortly after the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Russian troops in 1968, Jan led his family in a dramatic escape to Germany, where he worked with the prestigious German publisher, Schott Soehne.

A year later, he decided to immigrate to Canada. There he first worked with the Canadian Music Centre, then became the Executive Secretary of the Ontario Federation of Symphony Orchestras and subsequently helped establish The Association of Symphony Orchestras as well as the Ontario Choral Federation.

Matejcek moved into the area of performing rights when he was invited to join the Canadian Authors' and Publishers' Association of Canada, CAPAC. After seven years, his focus on international copyright led him to join the other Canadian performing rights organization, PROCAN, as Assistant General Manager and, eventually, in 1984 its President.

He led PROCAN's effort to connect closely with all the leading international performing rights societies and oversaw a fivefold increase of revenue to writers and authors over a ten-year period. He made the organization into one of the most efficient, fully computerized organizations for collecting royalties for performance of music created by many thousands of its members and international affiliates. 

A celebration of Matejcek’s life will be held at the Granite Club, 2350 Bayview Avenue, in Toronto, on Oct. 28, from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. RSVPs are requested by Oct. 15, 2017, to mizbreda@hotmail.com.

Condolences can be sent to janago1@hotmail.com and/or mizbreda@hotmail.com 

Instead of flowers, and to honour his love of music and longstanding advocacy for Canadian composers, the family asks that donations be made in Jan's name to the Canadian Music Centre (Legacy Fund), by calling (416) 961-6601, X-105, or e-mailing cminnes@musiccentre.ca.

Sources: SOCAN, The Globe and Mail

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