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Beck Family on stage with TSO Executives announcing their donation to the orchestra

A Deep Dive into the Largest Gift in TSO History

How did the 60-year relationship between the Beck family and the Toronto Symphony begin?
October 18, 2023

A legacy of extraordinary generosity began in the 1950s when newlyweds Tom and Mary Beck began attending Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) concerts at Massey Hall. The two met in Toronto shortly after they both immigrated from Europe, and soon thereafter became subscribers and donors to the TSO. Their love for the orchestra was immense and the couple were fervent supporters of the organization and its musicians. Tom passed away in 2016, followed by Mary in 2018, and, the next year, a $10-million gift to the TSO from their estate was announced. At that time, it was the single largest contribution ever made to the organization.

Now, nearly 70 years after Tom and Mary’s first concert, the Beck family’s generosity reaches an incredible milestone. During the 2023 Annual General Meeting of the TSO, CEO Mark Williams announced to TSO supporters, musicians, and staff that, in the 2023 fiscal year, the TSO received another historic gift from the Estate of H. Thomas and Mary Beck of $14.7 million. This brings the estate’s total giving to approximately $30 million, and the Beck family’s giving in support of the TSO to more than $50 million. As the largest in TSO history, this transformative gift contributed in part to the organization’s 2023 fiscal year surplus, and is a testament to the Beck family’s more than 60-year relationship with the orchestra and their abiding belief in its importance and promise.

“The Beck family’s long-standing commitment to this city has been exemplified by their unwavering support of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and our mission to serve this community with extraordinary and meaningful musical experiences,” said Mark Williams. “Their contributions to the TSO significantly amplify our reach and ability to bring music to Toronto’s diverse communities and to those who need it the most. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the support of the Beck family, whose exceptional generosity has now exceeded $50 million in donations in support of the TSO — the largest cumulative gift we have ever been given.”

In recognition of the Beck family’s extraordinary generosity, two new endowments have been established to support the TSO: the Cathy and Liddy Beck Principal Oboe Chair, and the Beck Family Chief Executive Officer. “I know I speak for every musician in the orchestra when I say that the Beck family is our family — they are our greatest champions and also very dear friends,” said Sarah Jeffrey, the inaugural holder of the Cathy and Liddy Beck Principal Oboe Chair. “Their enduring support has helped to strengthen us, both as an ensemble and as individuals, and their deep affection for classical music and the art of performance has always been felt and appreciated by all of us on stage. I am sincerely grateful to Cathy and Liddy, and I am incredibly proud to now occupy an orchestra chair named in their honour.”

Tom served as a TSO Board member for 22 years, and was Chair in the early ’80s. Mary became well known to the TSO’s musicians; she valued them as individuals and hosted many of them at the Beck family’s home over the years. Tom and Mary’s children — Anthony, Catherine, and Liddy — now carry the torch of their family’s support. In 2016, like her father before her, Catherine joined the TSO Board of Directors as Chair and continues to serve in the role. She and her husband, Dr. Laurence Rubin — like her father in 2016 — were also named Honorary Musicians by the musicians of the orchestra.

(L-R) Anthony Beck, Liddy Beck, TSO Principal Oboe Sarah Jeffrey, Cathy Beck, Beck Family CEO Mark Williams, Dr. Laurence Rubin

We strongly believe, as they did, that a fantastic city like Toronto deserves a fantastic orchestra—and the TSO is precisely that.

Catherine Beck

“On behalf of my brother, my sister, and myself, I would like to express how deeply proud we are that the TSO’s Principal Oboe Chair and CEO position will be endowed in our family’s name, in addition to the Tom Beck Concertmaster Chair,” said Catherine Beck. “It is a great privilege to continue my parents’ legacy of support. We strongly believe, as they did, that a fantastic city like Toronto deserves a fantastic orchestra—and the TSO is precisely that. Over the years, through its superb artistry, inspiring resilience, and profound impact, both inside and outside the concert hall, it has proven itself to be a strong and vital cultural leader worthy of recognition. We hope that, in playing our part, we may inspire others to similarly invest in the future of the institution that means so much to us and to this community.”

“All of these incredible milestones represent our commitment to our community, and we were only able to accomplish them because our supporters chose to invest in us,” added Mark Williams. “It’s not guaranteed that any organization will remain in the black year after year, so we are immensely appreciative to all members of the TSO family for continuing to invest in the future of this great orchestra. Our Year 101 performances have been positively electric, and it’s you who keep that indescribable energy flowing, through the concert hall, the city, and beyond.”