12 July 2015

Music in Canada during the First World War

It was a pleasure to travel to Pinhey's Point on Friday evening for a presentation by recent Carleton University PhD graduate Madelaine Morrison on music and the First World War. In the first part of the talk she spoke of the important part Germany, and particularly Leipzig, played in musical education for Canadians before the war and the adjustments that were made as playing music by enemy German and Austro-Hungarian composers became frowned upon as unpatriotic.

The second part of the talk was on the music industry in Canada, particularly piano manufacturing. The industry declined as materials and skilled labour were in short supply and competitive less costly entertainment by way of recorded music became available. Madelaine described the measures the Canadian piano industry took to counteract these trends.

A lively discussion followed during which I asked whether Canadian piano manufacturers with Germany names, like Heintzman, had seen any decline in their sales due to the name. The King had changed the family name to Windsor and the town of Berlin had its name changed to Kitchener. Madelaine said that she thought the family was long-enough established in Toronto society that the name did not become an issue. It probably helped that members of the family were serving in the CEF.

How many other interesting topics for presentations of community interest by masters and doctorate graduates of local universities never come to wider local attention?

The presentation was in connection with an exhibit at Pinhey's Point to showcase WWI-themed selections from the sheet music collection of Mabel Armstrong Baker (1905-1999), daughter of the South March postmaster.

Another talk, this on World War I Military Nurse: Eastern Ontario's Annie Green will be given at Pinhey's Point on Friday, August 14, 2015, 7:00 pm by Sandra Campbell a retired professor from Carleton University.

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