Graham George | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Graham George

Graham (Elias) George. Composer, teacher, theorist, organist-choirmaster, conductor, b Norwich, England, 11 Apr 1912, d Kingston, Ont, 9 Dec 1993; ACCO 1934, ARCO 1935, FCCO 1936, B MUS (Toronto) 1936, D MUS (Toronto) 1939.

George, Graham

Graham (Elias) George. Composer, teacher, theorist, organist-choirmaster, conductor, b Norwich, England, 11 Apr 1912, d Kingston, Ont, 9 Dec 1993; ACCO 1934, ARCO 1935, FCCO 1936, B MUS (Toronto) 1936, D MUS (Toronto) 1939. After moving to Canada in 1928 he studied composition in Montreal with Alfred Whitehead and 1952-3 at Yale University with Paul Hindemith. He studied conducting in 1956 with Willem van Otterloo in Holland. An organist-choirmaster and teacher in Montreal 1932-7 and in Sherbrooke, Que, 1937-41, he moved in 1946 to Kingston, Ont, as resident musician and teacher at Queen's University. He held church positions in Kingston 1946-61 and 1968-75 and in nearby Gananoque 1961-6, and continued to teach at Queen's University, where he was acting head of the music department from its inception in 1968 until 1971. On his retirement in 1977 he was named professor emeritus and in 1983 the university recognized the enduring value of his pioneer work by naming its music library after him. George founded the Kingston Choral Society in 1953 and the New Symphony Orchestra of Kingston (renamed Kingston Symphony Orchestra in 1963) the next year and conducted both until 1957. He won his first composition award, the Prix Jean-Lallemand, in 1938 for Variations on an Original Theme (1937) and received CPRS awards in 1943 and 1947 for Variations for Strings (1942) and the ballet Jabberwocky (1947). He composed extensively for choir, mainly in the 20th-century English idiom, and completed many concert works on commission, three ballets, and four operas. He was on the board of the CFMS from its inception in 1956, was its president 1965-8, and was president of the RCCO 1972-4. He also transcribed and analyzed songs of the northwestern First Nations peoples in the early 1960s, and was elected secretary-general of the International Folk Music Council in 1969, in which position he served until 1980.

George received a research award (1970-3) from Queen's University and an exchange grant (1972) from the Canada Council and the Ministère des Affaires Culturelles of France. His book Tonality and Musical Structureexamined the concept of form as an outcome of key relationships; he also wrote a book manuscript, 'Tonality in Tristan and Parsifal,' as well as contributing to EMC. George was an associate of the Canadian Music Centre. In his last years he developed Alzheimer's disease. He was married to the soprano Tjot (Coster) George. The NLC holds his archives. Queen's University offers the Graham George Memorial Scholarship annually to a deserving composition student.

Selected Compositions

Dramatic Works
Jabberwocky, ballet. 1947 (Kingston 1947). Ms

Peter Pan (1948) and The King, the Pigeon and the Hawk (1949), ballets. Both manuscript

Way Out, opera (George). 1960 (Kingston 1960). Ms

A King for Corsica, opera (George). 1975 (Kingston and Toronto 1981). Ms

Revolt in Upper Canada, opera (George). 1987. Ms

Also incidental music for plays, 5 stock pieces for NFB, and incidental music for radio drama Love Is the Crooked Thing (1955). All manuscript

See also Evangeline.


'Canada's music - 1955: an attempt to assess the quality of contemporary Canadian composition,' Culture, vol 16, Mar 1955

'Three Canadian concert halls,' CMJ, vol 4, Winter 1960

'Vernon Barford,' CMJ, vol 5, Winter 1961

'Music where the wind blows free,' CMJ, vol 6, Spring 1962

'Songs of the Salish Indians of British Columbia,' J of the International Folk Music Council, vol 14, 1962

'Hymn tunes reconsidered,' J of Church Music, vol 5, Dec 1962, Jan 1963

'Towards a definition of romanticism in music,' Queen's Q, vol 72, Summer 1965

'Folk music in opera,' OpCan, Sep 1965

'The structure of dramatic music 1607-1909,' MQ, vol 52, Oct 1966

'''Work-of-artness'' of a work of art,' Queen's Q, vol 74, Spring 1967

'Hymn tunes - the old vexed question,' J of Church Music, vol 12, Oct-Nov 1970

Tonality and Musical Structure (London 1970)

'Towards a Mozartean simplicity in twelve-note music at the undergraduate level,' CAUSM J, vol 1, Spring 1971

'Tonality and the narrative in ''Tristan'',' CAUSM J, vol 4, Fall 1974

Twelve-note Tonal Counterpoint (Oakville, Ont 1976)

Articles and reviews for Saturday Night Magazine, CMJ, AGO/RCCO Music

Orchestra and Band

Dorian Fugue. 1942 (rev 1957). Str. Ms

Variations for Strings (Folk Story for Strings). 1942. Str orch. Ms

A Hymn for Christmas Day (J. Taylor). 1954 (Winnipeg 1969). SATB, orch. Ms

Experiences of a Self-made Theme. 1956 (Winnipeg 1970). Ms

Songs of the Salish. 1961 (Quebec 1961). Ms

Concerto for Flute and Strings. 1963 (Montreal 1963). Ms

Red River of the North (T. Saunders). 1970. SATB, orch. Ms

Also others

7 works for band. 1951-71


String Trio. 1951 (London 1953). Ms

4 String Quartets (1936-51). Ms

Quintet. 1967 (Kingston 1967). Pf quintet. Ms

Quartet for Saxophones. 1972. Ms

Figures in a Landscape (Helwig). 1973 (Kingston 1973). Sop, string quartet. Ms

Sonata. 1974. Fl, clarinet, piano. Ms

Fuguing Music for String Quartet. 1976. Ms

Trio. 1981. Cl, bassoon, accordion. Ms

Also works for oboe, string trio, violin and piano, and saxophone quartet. All manuscript


Publ by Gray: Two Preludes on 'The King's Majesty,' Elegy (1968) Wedding Music: Prelude and Fugue (1974) , Passacaglia on 'Lobe den Herren' (1967), A Small Chaconne and Fugue (1976)

Also Three Fugues (Ber 1970), Suite on 'Grace Church, Gananoque' (Abingdon 1972), and others (all manuscript)

Also 5 works for piano in manuscript


Publ by Gray: 'If Ye Love Me'; 'O Worship the King'; 'Lord of All Power and Might'; 'Benedictus es, Domine'; 'Ride On, Ride On in Majesty' (1970); 'New Prince, New Pomp' (1962); 'Now Glad of Heart' (1962); 'In God's Command' (1964)

Publ by others: 'Unto Us a Son is Given' (OUP); Office of Holy Communion (BMIC 1965); Junior Choir Anthems for the Church Year (Augsburg 1966); 'Stir Up, We Beseech Thee' (Harris); 'Fight the Good Fight' (Abingdon); 'Benedictus es, Domine' (Belwin Mills 1940); 'In God's Commands' (Belwin Mills 1964); 'Praise to the Lord, the Almighty' (Augsburg 1978)

Also several arr of sacred and traditional melodies for SATB, some 19 anthems in manuscript, 3 communion services, and 8 part-songs

9 works for voice, piano (1935-81)

Further Reading