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Beckwith interviewing Sir Ernest MacMillan

Beckwith interviewing Sir Ernest MacMillan


According to composer John Beckwith, "MacMillan wasn't primarily a composer but he possessed a strong gift. By their striking themes, harmonic boldness, and fluency of part writing, [MacMillan's scores] outshine most other productions by Canadian composers of their era."

This particular interview of Sir Ernest was broadcast to commemorate his 75 th Birthday. One week prior to this broadcast, a concert involving the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the Festival Singers and the Toronto Symphony (under the direction of Elmer Iseler) was held to mark this momentous occasion. This interview, conducted at MacMillan's Park Road home in Toronto, focuses on the man's life and artistic achievements.

INTERVIEWEE Ernest MacMillan

During a remarkable life, Sir Ernest MacMillan acted as a catalyst to musical creativity in Canada, as conductor of the Toronto Symphony and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, dean of the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, principal of the Toronto Conservatory of Music, president of Jeunesses musicales of Canada, president of the Canadian Music Council, and for 22 years president of the music licensing agency CAPAC. He was also a charter member of the Canada Council for the Arts and served two terms on its board. The Canadian Music Centre became an important focus for MacMillan in his later years, and he was its co-founder and first president. When he was knighted in 1935 by George V, he became the first person in the Commonwealth outside Great Britain to be so honoured for services to music.


Born in Victoria, British Columbia, he studied piano with Alberto Guerrero at the Toronto Conservatory of Music in 1945. He received a Mus.B. (1947) and a Mus.M. (1961) from the University of Toronto. From 1950 to 1951, he studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. He started teaching at in the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto in 1952, where from 1970 to 1977, he was its dean. He was founding director of the Institute for Canadian Music at the University of Toronto. He has written over 130 compositions covering stage, orchestral, chamber, solo and choral genres. In 1987, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada.

Interview: Oskar Morawetz and Timothy Findley Interview: John Weinzweig: barn dance Beckwith interviewing Sir Ernest MacMillan Interview: Robert Aitken with Norma Beecroft Helmut Blume with Schafer Interview: John Adaskin behind the scenes at the CMC

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This project was made possible through funding from the AV Preservation Trust and the Department of Canadian Heritage AV Trust Department of Canadian Heritage

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