Manitoba Music Museum

The Manitoba Music Museum is a website dedicated to the Musicians of Manitoba.




JOSE PONEIRA Jose Poneira, 90, of Winnipeg, MB passed away peacefully on Saturday, June 22, 2013. Jose is survived by his loving wife of 58 years, Gladys, son Rick (Colleen), daughter Melody (Mark) Clegg, two grandchildren, Wesley and Norah, three step-granddaughters, Jennifer, Cynthia and Samantha, and two great-grandsons, Jack and Colin, as well as his dear nephew, Georges (Elizabeth) Tremel of Jasper. Jose was preceded in death by his parents, Alexander and Frieda, and his sister Martha. Jose was born on February 8, 1923 in Lubeck, Germany. After enjoying a privileged childhood and studying music in Zurich, Switzerland he was forced to flee their home in Europe, abandoning their possessions. The young Jose fled through Europe, emerging eventually in Argentina after spending six months in Cuba. It was during these formative years where Jose developed his love of Latin Music which he would later influence his music style. In 1947 Jose moved to New York where he played in all the popular nightclubs of the time. Jose eventually made Canada his home moving and supporting his family along the way. Jose, the accomplished pianist, composer and marvelous entertainer also made his mark appearing on Canadian TV and radio with his own band performing an eclectic blend of classical and South American music. Jose's life was incredible, mixing with stars of the silver screen, even playing at the engagement party of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco. In his final years, Jose became a local icon playing in the Palm Room at the famous Fort Garry Hotel, Winnipeg. Jose played there for the better part of the last 20 years of his life entertaining a generation of Winnipeg residents. Despite failing health and near blindness Jose made his final appearance shortly before his passing. A true gentleman, Jose will be dearly missed by family and those privileged to call him friend. A special thank you to the Riverview Hospital staff of 3 East in Winnipeg for their loving care, compassion and support. A celebration of his life will be held on Thursday, June 27, 2013 starting at 7:00 p.m. at Chapel Lawn Funeral Home in Winnipeg, MB. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, 1080 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3G 3M3. "Gone yet not forgotten, although we are apart, your spirit lives within us, forever in our hearts." For those who wish to sign the online Guest Book please visit our website. Chapel Lawn 885-9715

As published in the Winnipeg Free Press on June 25, 2013

Guest Book(6 ENTRIES)

  • it has been my privilege to have known Gladdie and Jose for over 50 years. His music and their friendship have enriched my life, and I miss him already. 
    - Posted by: Arthur on: Jun 28, 2013
  • I have enjoyed listening to Jose's music while I was working in the Palm Lounge at the Fort Gary Hotel. It certainly was a privilege and an honour to be in the compamy of a truly gifted artist. 
    - Posted by: Luciano Costa (Friend) on: Jun 28, 2013
  • Jose and Bob will be making music together again. 
    - Posted by: Robin Gross (Son of Bob and Lillian Gross) on: Jun 27, 2013
  • I recall so vividly when I first met Jose. Jose was walking His dog & I was building a fence on the street Jose stopped and talked to me about building a fece for him on Twain dr. Since that day forward we have been great friends with he and his lovely wife Gladys. That kind of friendship will last forever with Joan & I. Rest in peace good friend.
    - Posted by: Harold & Joan Irwin (Good friends) on: Jun 26, 2013
  • I have enjoyed Mr. Poneira's performances for 28 years. I first heard him play at the Jasper Park Lodge and then to my delight found that he played regularly in Winnipeg, where I live. I heard him play at least twenty times and own his CD recordings. He once sat down and joined the party I was sitting with in the Palm Room, at the end of his performance, and told us some of his life experiences. He was a brilliant performer and a very entertaining raconteur. We are so fortunate that he settled in Winnipeg and provided so much pleasure with his great musical skills and wonderful life philosophy. 
    - Posted by: Shelley G. Mitchell (admiring fan in Winnipeg and at Jasper Park Lodge. ) on: Jun 25, 2013
  • My thoughts and and prayers are with you at this difficult time
    - Posted by: Bernie Bolin (worked at the Bay Unicity with Gladys) on: Jun 25, 2013




Winnipeg piano icon a fixture in NYC, too

Poneira played for stars but kept humble, son says


There will be no more encores for Jose Poneira.

Poneira, a one-time fixture on the city's nightclub scene, died Saturday at the age of 90 after a brief illness.

Poneira fronted trios and quartets for several decades in Winnipeg and in nightclubs across Canada and the United States.

In Winnipeg, his quartet was popular at the now-defunct Rancho Don Carlos.

Poneira was at the piano for Sunday brunch in the Fort Garry Hotel's Palm Room for 20 years, last playing there for his 90th birthday in February.

"He was an excellent pianist and a wonderful human being," bandleader and pianist Ron Paley said. "He was a musical inspiration to me. We'll miss him."

His son, Richard, said his father was a humble man.

"He was an extremely gracious man who was very grateful for everything he got. He never took anything for granted."

Poneira's star shone brightly on stage but he took a circuitous route to get there. Richard Poneira said his father came from an affluent German family. Jose's father was a doctor and his grandfather on his mother's side was Wilhelm von Humboldt, who founded the Humboldt University of Berlin and is credited with establishing the modern western education system.

The family fled their homeland for Spain in 1934 as National Socialism was taking root. The family operated a ranch in Spain but lost everything during the Spanish Civil War and returned to Germany, only to flee again in 1941, this time for Argentina.

Poneira's wife of 58 years, Gladys, said it was in Argentina where Jose developed his love of Latin music, which would become his signature style.

Richard said his father moved to New York City in 1947, where he became a fixture in the nightclub scene, playing at the famed Waldorf Astoria and the popular Harwin Club, where he met Gladys.

"He knew all the stars and celebrities and moved in that circle," Richard said, adding his father once played at a party for actor Robert Mitchum in 1949, and one of Jose's trios provided the music for the engagement party of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco.

Jose and Gladys came to Winnipeg in 1955 and stayed. "We liked it so much, we stayed and eventually became citizens," Gladys said.

Richard said his father solidified his reputation locally during the 1950s and 1960s, playing regularly at Rancho Don Carlos and getting his own national weekly show on CBC television, A Song For You, from 1962 to 1964, which included guitarist Lenny Breau in Poneira's quartet.

Richard said his father took the family to Toronto and Vancouver in the late 1960s and early '70s, but returned to Winnipeg in 1976.

Even though effectively blind and deaf for the last 10 years of his life, Richard said his father continued to entertain.

"He was a very humble man who worked very hard," Richard said. "His family lost everything, but that never fazed him. He appreciated everything anybody ever did for him."

Funeral arrangements are pending.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 24, 2013