Notable Canadian Jewish Performers: Lewis Furey. Singer, Pianist, Violinist, Composer, Actor, Director


Music Online. Under the Radar

Lewis Furey 002

Lewis Furey


Welcome to our weekly Sunday music section

“Notable Canadian Jewish Performers.”

DAVID EISENSTADT CJNonline Photo

By David Eisenstadt

TORONTO. October, 30/22 – There’s no shortage of sibling performers who are notable Canadian Jewish musicians, but, in my view, while successful, there are many somewhat under the radar.

Take Lewis Furey, for example.  He’s an acknowledged and creative film score composer who sings and plays the violin and the piano.  He’s also an actor.

His talented brother, Richard Greenblatt (cjnonline.com) among his other accomplishments is best known as the co-writer/performer of the very entertaining 2 Pianos 4 Hands stage production.

The brothers were born to secular Jewish parents as Greenblatts, living in a bilingual home environment.  Lewis was born on June 7, 1949; Richard in 1953.

Along the way, Lewis changed his surname. Richard didn’t.

Furey is a classically trained violinist who soloed at age 11 in a Montreal Symphony Orchestra concert series.  For four years he studied with Calvin Sieb from 1961 to 1965 at the Conservatoire de Musique du Québec á Montréal and later attended Julliard in New York from 1964 to 1967, studying with Ivan Galamian.

He composed and recorded (in English) rock music in 1974. Montreal Gazette writer Dane Lanken best summed it up “He left concert sound for Furey of rock.”  Through 1979 recorded/released three pop music albums – Lewis FureyThe Humours of Lewis Furey and The Sky is Falling.  His approach to these recordings resembled that of Lou Reed with various tunes evoking gay content and his use of exotic klezmer arrangements featuring quirky elements of violin and banjo.


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Lewis Furey – Lewis Is Crazy (Live at the SRC / circa 2007)


He began writing music for films in 1975, with his first film score that year netting a 1976 Canadian Film Award – La Tête de Normande St-Onge.

 Working as the composer on the Gilles Carle-produced flick L’Ange et la femme with his future wife Carole Laure as Lorca. The production included a famously talked about sex act scene, noted Brian Johnson in his book Brave films, wild nights: 25 years of festival fever. Furey produced various stage reviews during the 1970s.  The now-married couple often performed together where he played violin or piano and she sang. 

He also wrote songs and produced a series of Carole Laure albums – notably Alibis in 1979, which was a box office hit in the province of Quebec. That album included some tunes previously recorded in English including Lullaby, translated to French as J ’ai une chanson. The next year, he penned the music for another film in which Laure played the lead role.  That film was called Fantastica, also produced by Gilles Carol.  Laure was nominated for a Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role as referenced in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

Since the late 1970s, Furey has lived in France. Over the years, he has composed the music for several other feature films and television.  He wrote the screenplay and music for Night Magic with Leonard Cohen in 1984. It was a whimsical musical drama featuring Laure.  He recorded/produced Western Shadows, a collection of country and western numbers, winning the Grand prix du disque de l’Académie Charles-Cros in 1991.

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Excerpts from Lewis Furey Selected Songs Recital 2012


He decided to quit recording to focus on writing and directing, frequently collaborating with his wife.  Directing engagements were revival productions of Starmania which played in Montreal in 1994 and in Paris in 1993 and 1999.

Many artists including Petula Clark have sung Furey’s songs.  In 1985, for the film The Peanut Butter Solution, Celine Dion recorded Michael’s Son (La ballade de Michel) and Listen to the Magic Man (Dans La Main D’un Magicien.  They were both co-written by Eddy Marnay.  Tom Robinson recorded Closing a Door (Cabaret ’79, 1982) and Love Comes (North by Northwest, 1982).  Interestingly, his first two albums were major hits in Japan and were available on CD only as Japanese re-releases.

73-year-old Lewis Furey is credited with seven albums, the most recent Haunted by Brahms in 2017-18.  He has a slew of singles, mostly with Carole Laure recorded in Canada, the United States, and France. His filmography numbers 27.♦

Credits: PHOTO m.facebook; lacaptureprod/YouTube; Le mélomane/YouTube


David Eisenstadt is the author of Under the Radar, 30 Notable Canadian Jewish Musicians. He is Founding Partner of tcgpr.com and a graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism and the University of Calgary. 

A complete list of David Eisenstadt’s articles can be viewed under Music Online in our category section. Do you have comments or questions about this article? Contact David Eisenstadt at 

cjnonline@protonmail.com or deisenstadt@tcgpr.com


 

 

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