Harry Adaskin was born in Riga, Latvia, in 1901, and later emigrated with his family to Toronto. As a child he learned to play the violin, and at the age of twelve he entered the Toronto Conservatory of Music. In 1923 he and three colleagues formed the Hart House String Quartet, in which Adaskin played second violin. Sponsored by Vincent and Alice Massey, it the first Canadian musical quartet to make an international reputation. The Quartet made many concert tours of North America and Europe, and in 1928 played at Maurice Ravel's New York debut. In 1938 he resigned from the Quartet, and as a freelance musician combined musical performance with a broadcasting career. He and his wife, pianist Frances Marr Adaskin, undertook a number of concert tours throughout Canada and the United States. For several seasons in the 1940's Adaskin was intermission commentator for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra's Sunday afternoon concerts, heard throughout Canada. He also hosted several CBC Radio programmes, including "Musically Speaking" and, later, "Tuesday Night". In 1946 he became head of the new Department of Music at UBC, a post which he held until 1958 he continued as a professor until his retirement in 1973. His circle of friends and acquaintances included Emily Carr, members of the Group of Seven, Vincent Massey, and Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as other prominent artists. Adaskin received the Order of Canada in 1974, and honorary doctorates from Simon Fraser University in 1979 and UBC in 1980. He died in 1994.