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MacMillan, Sir Ernest (Alexander Campbell)

MacMillan, Sir Ernest (Alexander Campbell)

MacMillan, Sir Ernest (Alexander Campbell), eminent Canadian conductor and composer; b. Mimico, Aug. 18, 1893; d. Toronto, May 6, 1973. He began organ studies with Arthur Blakeley in Toronto at age 8, making his public debut at 10. He continued organ studies with A. Hollins in Edinburgh (1905–8), where he was also admitted to the classes of F. Niecks and W.B. Ross at the Univ. He was made an assoc. (1907) and a fellow (1911) of London’s Royal Coll. of Organists, and received the extramural B.Mus. degree from the Univ. of Oxford (1911). He studied modern history at the Univ. of Toronto (1911–14) before receiving piano instruction from Therese Chaigneau in Paris (1914). In 1914 he attended the Bayreuth Festival, only to be interned as an enemy alien at the outbreak of World War I; while being held at the Ruhleben camp near Berlin, he gained experience as a conductor; was awarded the B.A. degree in absentia by the Univ. of Toronto (1915); his ode, England, submitted through the Prisoners of War Education Committee to the Univ. of Oxford, won him his D.Mus. degree (1918). After his release, he returned to Toronto as organist and choirmaster of Timothy Eaton Memorial Church (1919–25). He joined the staff of the Canadian Academy of Music (1920) and remained with it when it became the Toronto Cons, of Music, serving as its principal (1926–42); was also dean of the music faculty at the Univ. of Toronto (1927–52). He was conductor of the Toronto Sym. Orch. (1931–56) and of the Mendelssohn Choir there (1942–57); also appeared as guest conductor in North and South America, Europe, and Australia. He served as president of the Canadian Music Council (1947–66) and of the Canadian Music Centre (1959–70). In 1935 he was the first Canadian musician to be knighted, an honor conferred upon him by King George V; also received honorary doctorates from Canadian and U.S. institutions. He conducted many works new to his homeland, both traditional and contemporary. C. Morey ed. MacMillan on Music: Essays on Music (Toronto, 1997).


dramatic: Snow White, opera (1907); Prince Charming, ballad opera (1931). orch.: 4 overtures (Cinderella, 1915; Don’t Laugh, 1915; 1924; Scotch Broth, 1933); 2 Sketches for Strings (1927; also for String Quartet); Fantasy on Scottish Melodies (1946); Fanfare for a Festival for Brass and Percussion (1959); Fanfare for a Centennial for Brass and Percussion (1967). chamber: String Quartet (1914; rev. 1921); 4 Fugues for String Quartet (1917); piano pieces; organ music. vocal:England, ode for Soprano, Baritone, Chorus, and Orch., after Swinburne (1917–18; Sheffield, England, March 17, 1921); 2 Carols for Soprano and String Trio (1927); Te Deum laudamus for Chorus and Orch. (1936); many choruses and songs; arrangements.


E. Schabas, Sir E. M.: The Importance of Being Canadian (Toronto, 1994).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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