Fonds 30-027 - Morris Kates fonds

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Morris Kates fonds

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Reference code

CA ON0034 30-027

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  • 1940, 1944-2010 (Creation)
    Kates, Morris

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Physical description

98.2 cm of textual records
130.1 cm of scores
1 poster
12 photographs
1 photos album
1 slide

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Morris Kates was born in Galati, Romania, in 1923. He came to Canada with his parents in 1924 and grew up in Toronto. He began his musical studies with violin lessons at the age of eleven and began composing music at sixteen. He discovered both science and music about the same time in High school. He studied music harmony, counterpoint, and composition as a hobby, along with his studies in science (physics, chemistry, and biochemistry) at the University of Toronto. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 1948.
From 1950 until 1968 he worked at the National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, first as a post-doctoral fellow and then as a research scientist. In 1968, he was appointed Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Ottawa, and in 1989 he retired as Professor Emeritus. He was renowned in the field of biochemistry for his discovery of the isopranyl glycerol diether lipids of Halobacterium and other members of the Halobacteriaceae. Among biochemists, Morris Kates is also best known for his textbook ‘Techniques in Lipidiology’ (1972, revised in 2010). Altogether Morris wrote about 250 scientific papers on lipid biochemistry and lipid metabolism. He received the Excellence in Research Award (1981), the Supelco Award for lipid research from the American Oil Chemist Society (1984) and was nominated as Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (1973).
Lipid biochemistry was one field in which Morris Kates was famous, music was the second. He published more than 20 compositions that include orchestral works, chamber music, choral works, and more. He showed an interest in his compositions in Impressionism, twelve-tone technique, neoclassicism, and more recently, Renaissance music. His major works are: Variations for Strings (1964), Symphonia for Strings (1967), Sonata for Cello and Piano (1973), Piano Trio “Hommage à Einstein” (1979), Elegiac Variations for Solo ‘Cello (1984), Woodwind Quintet (1988), Sonata for Double Bass and Piano (1989), and Festine Suite (1990). The first two of these compositions won him the CBC (Ottawa) Music Award for 1965 and 1967, respectively. Variations for Strings and Festive Suite have been performed by the University of Ottawa Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Currie. He was an Associate Composer with the Canadian Music Centre and a member of the Canadian League of Composers.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This fonds consists of material related to Morris Kates’ musical compositions, as orchestral works, chamber music, choral works. It contains original handwritten and printed scores. It includes Morris Kates’ correspondence with friends, students, and colleagues. The fonds gives also highlight on Morris Kates’ career as biochemist. It contains records on his scientific research works, as his thesis, articles, lab notes, conference proceedings with his presentations, photos from scientific travel and laboratory, certificates.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

This fonds was donated by Illona Skerjanc, daughter of Morris Kates to the University of Ottawa Archives and Special Collections in 2020.


Language of material

  • English
  • French
  • Japanese

Script of material

  • Japanese
  • Latin

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The majority of the fonds is open and accessible, however, some files are restricted for a predetermined period of time. Please ask ARCS staff for further information.

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