Healey Willan (1880-1968) played a major role in the development of music in Canada for more than fifty years. As a teacher and organist-choirmaster he inspired generations of singers, musicians, and composers. As a composer he created some 800 works, including operas and symphonies as well as organ, piano, chamber, vocal, and band music.
Interest in Healey Willan's music has soared, with recent sales of recordings of his music exceeding 50,000 copies. F.R.C. Clarke's book is the definitive guide to the life and work of this remarkable man. The paper edition is an unabridged reprint of the edition first published in 1983, with a new foreword by the author.
'A warm and sympathetic portrait of the most prolific composer this country has ever known. ... Above all, it is a book which celebrates the attitudes of Willan as a teacher, composer and performer. Every choirmaster should read it, if only for one of the most trenchant pieces of advice any of them could ever have: "Sing words, sing words – any fool can sing notes - it takes brains to sing words."'
'Willan's contribution to Canadian music, even though he remained essentially an Englishman in manner and temperament, is enormous and far-reaching. A cursory list of his students (Louis Applebaum, John Beckwith, Robert Fleming, George Maybee, John Weinzweig – and of course F.R.C. Clarke) reads like a Who's Who in Canadian music.'
'Clarke's excellent book provides a stimulus for a wider appreciation of his music.'
'A fine, generous, balanced, not uncritical, important and wise book about a man whose contributions to music in Toronto from his arrival in 1913 until his death in 1968 were, and remain, legendary.'
'An exceptionally well-organized book for serious students and concert-goers'