Ernest White | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Ernest White

Ernest F. White. Organist, choirmaster, organ designer, teacher, editor, b London, Ont, 20 Jun 1901, d Fairfield, Conn, 21 Sep 1980; honorary FRCCO 1977.

White, Ernest

Ernest F. White. Organist, choirmaster, organ designer, teacher, editor, b London, Ont, 20 Jun 1901, d Fairfield, Conn, 21 Sep 1980; honorary FRCCO 1977. Ernest White studied violin locally and organ at the Toronto Conservatory of Music after 1920 with Ernest MacMillan and Healey Willan and was organist for a short time at Howard Park Methodist Church and Alhambra Ave United Church in Toronto. He moved to New York in 1926 for lessons with Lynnwood Farnam and was acclaimed for his performance at the St Louis Organists' Convention in 1927. He was organist-choirmaster 1927-35 at St James Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, and 1935-7 at Trinity Church, Lenox, Mass. For 25 years (1937-62) he was associated with the Church of St Mary the Virgin, New York, first as organist, then as music director. While there, it was his custom to give two series of organ recitals each year.

White also became tonal director for the organ builder M.P. Möller, of Hagerstown, Md, designing and supervising installations in the USA and Canada, including those in New York at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, St George's Episcopal Church, and the Interchurch Center Chapel. The St Mary organ was purchased in 1947 by Gordon Jeffery for Aeolian Hall, London, Ont, and was transferred to the London site under White's supervision. White taught at Bard College (Columbia University) and Pius X School of Liturgical Music in New York 1935-8; at the Music Teachers' College, University of Western Ontario, 1948-51; at Jordan College (Butler University) and the Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis 1963-71; and at the University of Bridgeport, Conn, 1971-3. He was organist-choirmaster 1963-70 at the Church of the Nativity, Indianapolis, then at St. Joan of Arc Church there, and from 1973 at St George's Church, Bridgeport. He gave over 1000 organ recitals featuring both old and modern repertoire. He was noted also for his trail-blazing editions of early organ music and for his recordings, among which was the first issued of Messiaen's La Nativité du Seigneur. Rollin Smith (American Guild of Organists and Royal Canadian College of Organists Music, August 1977) said of White, 'That he was able to synthesize the many contingencies of organ playing and organ construction into one pioneering point of view will distinguish his name and stature for many years to come.'

See also Organ Building


'Raymond Nold of St. Mary's,' American Organist, vol 24, Jan 1941

- ed. Ten Christmas Carols from Ancient Sources (Music Press 1945)

- ed. Masterpieces of Organ Music, folio series (Liturgical Press 1949-53): 61 Hanff, 62 Froberger, 63 Tunder, 64 Strungk, 65 des Près, 66 A. Gabrieli, 67 Early German Masters, 68 Kuhnau, 69, 70 Handel, 71 Music for Lent, 72 Music for Easter, 73 Old English Album

'The use of short-length reeds,' Organ Institute Q, vol 7, Autumn 1958

- ed. Choral series no. 61 Anthems (Music Press no date)

- and Hawke, H.W., eds. Ascended Ayres (Ernest White Editions 1972)

Further Reading