Sir Ernest MacMillan: The Importance of Being Canadian

By Ezra Schabas

© 1996

As a conductor, organist, pianist, composer, educator, writer, administrator, and musical statesman, Sir Ernest MacMillan stands as a towering figure in Canada's musical history. His role in the development of music in Canada from the beginning of this century to 1970 was pivotal. He conducted the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for twenty-five years, and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir for fifteen . He was principal of the Toronto (now Royal) Conservatory of Music and dean of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music. He founded the Canadian Music Council, and the Canadian Music Centre, and was a founding member of the Canada Council. He was also the first president of the Composers, Authors, and Publishers Association of Canada (CAPAC).

Ezra Schabas provides not only the first detailed biography of MacMillan, but also a frank, richly detailed and handsomely illustrated account of the Canadian music scene. He tells of MacMillan's rise in Canada, from his early years as a church organist to his international successes as a guest conductor; from his internment in a German prison camp to the knighthood conferred on him by King George V. As Robertson Davies said of MacMillan, 'It is on the achievements of such men that the culture of a country rests. Their work is not education, but revelation, and there is always about it something of prophetic splendour.'

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 374 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.9in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP000396

  • PUBLISHED MAY 1996

    From: $27.92

    Regular Price: $42.95

    ISBN 9780802078711
  • PUBLISHED SEP 1994

    From: $40.30

    Regular Price: $62.00

Quick Overview

Ezra Schabas provides not only the first detailed biography of MacMillan, but also a frank, richly detailed and handsomely illustrated account of the Canadian music scene.

Sir Ernest MacMillan: The Importance of Being Canadian

By Ezra Schabas

© 1996

As a conductor, organist, pianist, composer, educator, writer, administrator, and musical statesman, Sir Ernest MacMillan stands as a towering figure in Canada's musical history. His role in the development of music in Canada from the beginning of this century to 1970 was pivotal. He conducted the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for twenty-five years, and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir for fifteen . He was principal of the Toronto (now Royal) Conservatory of Music and dean of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music. He founded the Canadian Music Council, and the Canadian Music Centre, and was a founding member of the Canada Council. He was also the first president of the Composers, Authors, and Publishers Association of Canada (CAPAC).

Ezra Schabas provides not only the first detailed biography of MacMillan, but also a frank, richly detailed and handsomely illustrated account of the Canadian music scene. He tells of MacMillan's rise in Canada, from his early years as a church organist to his international successes as a guest conductor; from his internment in a German prison camp to the knighthood conferred on him by King George V. As Robertson Davies said of MacMillan, 'It is on the achievements of such men that the culture of a country rests. Their work is not education, but revelation, and there is always about it something of prophetic splendour.'

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 374 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.9in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    'Last month saw the publication of a long awaited book, with the dandy title Sir Ernest MacMillan: The Importance of Being Canadian. It's a 374-page biography of the major musical figure in 20th-century Canada. The thoroughly qualified author is Ezra Schabas, a music professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, and a former principal of the Royal Conservatory. This panoramic survey of MacMillan's life and times, has been released simultaneously in Canada, Britain and the United States by University of Toronto Press...Ezra Schabas' biography is both scholarly and lively; it brims with snappy anecdotes. And, glory be, there's a 16-page index; you can browse to your heart's content before starting in at the beginning...The book is visually enhanced by 53 well-chosen, well-captioned photos.'


    Clyde Gilmour, host of Gilmour's Albums
    CBC Stereo and CBC Radio Networks.

    'A must read for anyone interested in the formative years of music in Canada.'


    Rick MacMillan
    Classical Music Magazine

    'Canada's intellectual and cultural life was created in the twenties, thirties and forties by men like MacMillan, Harold Innis, Northrop Frye and Donald Creighton, with resources that we today would find appalling. Yet they persevered and triumphed, spurred on by the one quality they had in abundance which we seem to lack: confidence in the country and its future.'


    H.J. Kirchhoff
    Globe and Mail

    'In a country still short of musical heroes [Sir Ernest MacMillan] was a real one - large minded and tireless. His biography is the story of Canada's emerging musical identity. To know ourselves we need Sir Ernest's story. Ezra Schabas, who has travelled so many of the same paths, is the man to tell it.'


    Kenneth Winters
    CBC Stereo

    'Schabas's biography, with its dry but lucid prose, and its admiring but reasonably objective stance, does offer a cooly fascinating document of the cultural, political, and academic life in which MacMillan succeeded so well, and to which the conductor/administrator contributed so prodigiously. As an informative history of the 20th-century Canadian music scene, and particularly of the TSO and Toronto conservatory, Schabas's work will serve as a valuable document.'


    Richard Perry
    Books in Canada

    'This book is eminently readable and should be of interest to anyone interested in the Western music tradition in Canada ... As a biography of a musical figure, Sir Ernest MacMillan: The Importance of Being Canadian stands out as a splendid book in which content and context are blended with thoroughness and integrity. Indeed, Sir Ernest would be pleased.'


    Gordon E. Smith
    Queen's Quarterly
  • Author Information

    Ezra Schabas has been active as a performer, teacher, and musical administrator in Canada for over forty years. He is Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, and former principal of the Royal Conservatory of Music.