Denis Brott has recovered from severe COVID—but not from his brother Boris Brott’s sudden death

Montreal cellist Denis Brott has recovered from a life-threatening case of COVID in the early days of the pandemic in March 2020 that left him in a coma: he had to relearn to walk and to play his instrument. Sunday June 4 marks the opening of Brott's 28th annual Montreal Chamber Music Festival with a series of concerts. (Photo courtesy of Denis Brott)

Cellist Denis Brott is about to kick off the annual Montreal Chamber Music Festival in his hometown of Montreal on June 4. It’s the 28th edition of the festival he founded in the mid-1990s to make classical music more accessible to the general public. He’ll also be performing—marking an incredible story of survival.

Brott, the Juno-award-winning musician from a legendary Canadian classical music family, caught one of the country’s earliest cases of COVID in March 2020. He nearly died. After weeks in a coma at a Montreal hospital, he had to relearn to do everything, including speak, walk and play his instrument.

Brott credits the doctors at the Montreal University Hospital Centre (CHUM) for not only saving his life, but for using classical music in his treatment. Now, as he resumes his professional international career, Brott is also giving back to that hospital with a series of private concerts.

It’s been a tumultuous few years for the 72-year old Order of Canada recipient. A year ago, Brott’s older brother, conductor Boris Brott, was killed in a hit and run by a driver in Hamilton. Dealing with the fallout from that, and with his own personal recovery, has made Brott introspective. He joins The CJN Daily for a wide-ranging conversation about his journey.

What we talked about

  • Read more about Denis Brott at his website
  • Order discounted tickets to the Montreal Chamber Music Festival using the promo code mentioned in our podcast: CJN10
  • Watch a YouTube video of Denis Brott’s COVID journey and the hospital that saved him


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here.