Fonds 30 - Phil Nimmons fonds

Identity area

Reference code



Phil Nimmons fonds


  • 1940-1997 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

18.8 m of textual documents (45 boxes)

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Nimmons (clarinetist, composer, arranger, and band leader) was born in Kamloops, British Columbia on June 3, 1923, and raised in Vancouver. His life-long career in music began with playing clarinet in high school, and leading a small band in his Point Grey neighbourhood. Nimmons studied at the University of British Columbia 1940-1944 in preparation for a career in medicine. At this time, he played in local dance bands (Sandy DeSantis, Stan Patton, Barney Potts, Wilf Wylie, and Dal Richards) and joined the jazz quintet of the guitarist Ray Norris, where he actively arranged a substantial body of music. He subsequently studied clarinet 1945-1947 at the Juilliard School with Arthur Christmann and composition 1948-1950 at the Royal Conservatory of Music with Richard Johnston, Arnold Walter, and John Weinzweig.

In 1953, Nimmons formed his own jazz band (which took the name Nimmons 'N' Nine in 1957). Early broadcasts on CBC and its concert debut in 1956 at the Stratford Festival marked the beginning of this venture. Through various iterations, including Nimmons ‘N’ Nine Plus Six, this ensemble continued in some form much of the rest of his career. Subsequently, Nimmons has performed with David Braid, billing themselves as Nimmons ‘N’ Braid. In November 2013, Nimmons performed in a concert billed as “Nimmons ‘N’ 90” in celebration of his 90th year. Nimmons joined the University of Toronto in 1973 as instructor in jazz techniques and is now Director Emeritus of Jazz Studies.

Nimmons, and his ensembles, toured widely, including many engagements around the world. Nimmons is known to create works in both the jazz and classical vein. Nimmons was a founding member of the Canadian League of Composers and an associate of the Canadian Music Centre. He also founded jazz programs at several schools and universities, including the Banff School of Fine Arts (1970), the University of Toronto (1973), the University of Western Ontario (1978), the Courtney Youth Music Centre (1982), and the InterProvincial Music Camp, near Parry Sound, Ontario (1987).

Nimmons was awarded the first Juno in the Jazz category in 1976 for the recording of his Atlantic Suite (1974) by Nimmons ‘N’ Nine Plus Six. Nimmons has received many commissions including “Transformations” (premiered by Nimmons ‘N’ Nine Plus Six), which was commissioned jointly by the CBC and the Ontario Arts Council for World Music Week Conference (1975), hosted by the Canadian Music Council on behalf of the International Music Council (UNESCO). “Invocation” was commissioned jointly by COJO and the Ontario Arts Council and was premiered by Nimmons ‘N’ Nine Plus Six in the 1976 Olympic Games. “Plateaus: Cartiboo Country Tone Poem,” commissioned by the CBC Vancouver Orchestra and premiered in 1986, was subsequently recorded by that ensemble for CBC Classics. The Olympic Arts Festival of the 1986 Winter Games commissioned “The Torch,” and the work was premiered in Calgary by an Olympic Jazz Band, directed by Rob McConnell.

Nimmons passed away in his home in Toronto on April 5, 2024.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donation received from Phil Nimmons (2017). Orchestration and arrangement of Oscar Peterson's Canadiana Suite added in October 2019.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consists primarily of manuscript scores and parts for music written, arranged, and orchestrated by Phil Nimmons. Materials also include annotated scripts for incidental music that Nimmons wrote for various Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio and television productions. Fonds includes scores and parts for two ensembles that Nimmons led, Nimmons 'N' Nine, and its expanded version Nimmons 'N' Nine Plus Six, as well as various other ensembles.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


Further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

File-level descriptions were migrated from a db/Text database developed in partnership with Phil Nimmons and the Faculty of Music Library. Files were given sequential accession numbers starting at 79000.

Files are arranged in five series based on who the music was written for: (A) Early compositions and arrangements; (B) Music for radio and television; (C) Music for Nimmons 'N' Nine; (D) Music for Nimmons 'N' Nine Plus Six; and (E) Music for other ensembles.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Copyright is maintained by the estate. Can be viewed by appointment with the Music Library.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

The University of New Brunswick Archives has some photographs of Phil Nimmons, primarily relating to performances at the University's Summer Festival of Chamber Music. The Paul D. Fleck Library & Archives at The Banff Centre has some recordings of Phil Nimmons. Also see recordings of music by Phil Nimmons, performed by University of Toronto Faculty of Music ensembles in the Music Library Collection of Faculty Events (OTUFM 51).

Notes area


Previously titled "Archives Collection 30: Phil Nimmons." Reference code (30) removed from the title of the fonds July 30, 2019.

Alternative identifier(s)

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Description control area

Description identifier

Archives Collection 30

Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

Dates of creation revision deletion

File-level descriptions uploaded from db/Text database October 2019. Fonds arrangement and descriptions updated November 2023.




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