George Novotny Sr’s short life is a prominent example that it is not how long you live, but what you accomplish while living it. Fleeing an oppressive regime in his native Czech Republic brought George Sr., his wife Sylvia and George Jr. to Peterborough in 1952. They brought with them nothing but the tremendous desire to succeed, and a tireless work ethic.
However, George Sr. did have some attributes that would help him, and his family to quickly settle in. He was fluent in seven languages, and was an accomplished pianist, accordionist, arranger and orchestrator. These abilities soon found favour with such area musical stalwarts as Bobby Kinsmen, Del Crary, Buzz Buzzell, Paul “Streak” Konkle, Hugo Tapp and others.
George Novotny Sr. also had another ace up his sleeve. He had an innate ability to readily identify, and name any musical note immediately, which is commonly referred to as perfect pitch.
Bobby Kinsmen was the first to utilize our inductee’s wide-ranging musical talents. It was not long before George Sr. formed his own orchestra and began performing regularly at the Rock Haven Motor Hotel and, in the summer months at Viamede summer resort. CHEX Radio hosted his shows “Musician’s Corner” and “88 Keys,” and CHEX TV programmed a seasonal show “Music By George.”
The Novotny Orchestra played high school proms and he also presented music clinics on the history of music and piano stylings at Lakefield College School. He was also Church Organist, and Choir Director at St. John the Baptist Church.
Shock waves reverberated through the entire area when he passed at the age of 37 on November 3rd, 1961 after taking ill during a performance the night before at the Rock Haven. The relatively short period of time he contributed to the musical life of this area remains deeply imbedded in the hearts, and minds of all who were fortunate enough to have been entertained by him, or come in contact, in some way, with one of the greatest talents to ever grace this community.