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Boris Brott leading a student matinee on tour.Fred Catroll/Handout

Social media tributes poured in from the Canadian classical music community on Wednesday after the death of Boris Brott, the renowned composer, symphony conductor and founder of the Brott Music Festival.

Mr. Brott, who died after being hit by a car in Hamilton, was 78.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the sudden and tragic passing of the one and only musical genius and Canadian artistic visionary Boris Brott,” the festival posted on Facebook. “He will be sorely missed by all who appreciated his unsurpassed talent and by those who loved him.”

Hamilton police say officers were called shortly after 10 a.m. on Tuesday about a vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road on the Hamilton Mountain. Approximately 20 minutes later, Mr. Brott was struck and taken to hospital, where he died of his injuries.

Police say the driver fled the scene and was arrested shortly afterward following a brief chase that saw the vehicle collide with several police cruisers. Police say three officers and the suspect were taken to hospital to be treated for injuries. Ontario’s police watchdog has opened an investigation into the incident.

Created in 1988, the Brott Music Festival was considered the largest orchestral music festival in Canada.

Mr. Brott was the artistic director of the Orchestre classique de Montréal, which released a statement saying it was, as an organization, in a state of disbelief:

“Boris Brott was the beating heart of the Orchestre classique de Montréal, a renowned leader in the world of classical music in North America and beyond, a mentor to countless young musicians, and a very dear friend to so many,” read the statement. “His sudden passing thus leaves a deep void in our musical community, and a profound sadness in our personal lives.”

A trained violinist, Mr. Brott was the long-time music director and conductor of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1989, he created the National Academy Orchestra, a professional training orchestra primarily based in Hamilton. He was an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Mr. Brott was scheduled to conduct the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra in a tribute to Ukrainian music and artistry on April 20. The concert at Vancouver’s Orpheum Theatre will proceed with an alternate conductor.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger also paid tribute to Mr. Brott.

“Boris was not only a giant in the classical music world, he was also a giant for promoting and building Hamilton and his efforts over decades helped lift our community to new heights,” Mr. Eisenberger said in a statement. “Boris leaves a legacy of musical excellence and humanitarianism that is unmatched. It is a void for Hamilton that cannot be ever filled. Such a tragic loss!”

Mr. Brott leaves his wife, author Ardyth Brott, and their three children Ben, Alexandra, and David.

With a report from The Canadian Press.