In addition to his activities as conductor, administrator, educator, composer, and organist, Sir Ernest MacMillan (1893-1973) found time to write more than one hundred essays and lectures on music. Always ready to use his enormous prestige to further the causes of music, MacMillan took every opportunity to admonish Canadians to develop our own composers, to honour our own performers, to educate our children musically, and to offer opportunities for all to hear, learn about, and enjoy great music.
This selection of twenty essays and lectures covers the period from 1928 to 1964, and ranges over the gamut of MacMillan’s life and interests: the cause of the Canadian composer; music education for adults as well as children; critical reviews; his early years as an organist; internment in a German prison camp during the First World War; Shakespeare and music; church music; and the lighter side in two humorous send-ups of academic lectures on Bach and Wagner. Here is a panorama of music over thirty-five years at mid-century, through the eyes of one of Canada’s most brilliant and all-embracing musicians.
Sir Ernest MacMillan conducted his first performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion in 1923, the first of some thirty presentations that he gave of the work in Toronto. He became Principal of the Toronto (Royal) Conservatory in 1926, Dean of the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto in 1927, conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1931, and conductor of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in 1942. He conducted throughout Canada as well as in the United States, Australia, and Brazil. He was a founder of the Canadian Music Council, a member of the first Canada Council, President of the Canadian Music Centre, President of CAPAC (the performing rights organization), and President of Jeunesses musicales du Canada. For several years he hosted a radio program on CKEY in Toronto.