December: Euphrosyne Keefer
Euphrosyne Keefer was born on June 9, 1919 in Eastbourne, Sussex, England. From 1936-41 she attended the Royal Academy of Music studying composition, voice, piano and viola. Her promising operatic career at Sadler’s Wells was cut short by the war and she left London. In 1942 she married a Canadian artillery officer and came to Canada in 1945 as a war bride. She and her husband raised five children while living in northern Ontario and Quebec. A move to Toronto enabled her to resume her musical career as a composer, pianist and teacher. In 1977 she moved to Vancouver, where she continued to compose solo and chamber music, song cycles, choral works and piano music. Her music has been performed in Canada, the United States and the U.K. After a brief illness, she died in 2003.
Euphrosyne Keefer is the only one of our Did You Know composers, who was an active ACWC/ACC member.
November: Albertine Caron-Legris
Albertine Caron-Legris (b. Caron, m. Legris) was born in Montreal in 1906, where she studied piano, voice and music composition. Her early studies were at the Conservatoire national de musique, then later in her career, she went to the Université de Montréal, and received her bachelor of music in 1942, at the age of 36. Caron married in 1918, after which she taught music in Montreal and toured throughout Quebec as a recitalist. In the 1920s, she began to gain recognition as a composer of vocal songs and piano works in Quebec. Many of her pieces used folksong harmonizations. Her songs include “Ceux qui s’aiment sont toujours malheureux”, “Soir d’hiver”, with her most well-known composition being the 1947 song, “La Berceuse de Donalda”. During her lifetime, her works were included in the concert repertoires of Canadian musicians Maureen Forester, Raoul Jobin, Marthe Létourneau, Nicholas Massue and Alber Viau. Many of her manuscripts and personal papers are held in the collection at the Library and Archives Canada. In 1972, Caron-Legris died in Montreal at the age of 66.
October: Amice Calverly
Born in London England in 1896, Amice studied art at the Slade School, and piano with James Friskin. In 1912 the family moved to Oakville, Ontario. Amice continued her musical studies at the Toronto Conservatory of Music as a student of Healey Willan.
During the First World War, she worked in a munitions factory and at the Christie Street Hospital while continuing her musical studies, and in 1922 won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in England, where she studied with Vaughan Williams. At Oxford she met the archaeologist Leonard Woolley who encouraged her to pursue archaeological drawing, and in 1927 she became involved with the documentation being done by the Egypt Exploration Society of the Temple of Seti I at Abydos.
Although in her lifetime she sojourned at Abydos longer than any other place, she continued her musical interests. Among her works are many songs, an opera, and at least two string quintets. She died in Toronto in 1959.
September: Leila Fletcher
Leila Fletcher is a familiar name to piano students and teachers. Born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1899, she studied from a local piano teacher through her elementary and secondary school years. After high school, she continued her music education at Greenville College, in Illinois, the Royal Conservatory of Music, and the University of Toronto.
In the 1930s she was appointed music editor for Gordon V. Thompson music publishers in Toronto, then in 1949, she founded her own music publishing company called Montgomery Music. It was based in Rochester, New York, to begin with, then moved to Buffalo and finally to Markham, Ontario. It currently still exists as a part of Mayfair music.
In her lifetime, Leila Fletcher published over 250 piano solos through her publishing house. She is probably best known for her piano method books for young piano students, which are still being published today.
Leila Fletcher never married, and even when her publishing company was based in the United States, she never left her home in Canada, choosing to commute.
August: Laura Lemon
Laura Lemon was born in Guelph, Ontario in 1866, and grew up in Guelph and Winnipeg. In 1890 she went to study at the Royal Academy of Music, in London, England, where she remained for the rest of her life. Though she had left Canada, her Canadian roots can be found in her music. She was best known for her songs, including Canada for Ever!, Dominion and the Canadian Song Cycle, a set of four songs. All of these works were published by Boosey between 1907 and 1911. Her most famous work My Ain Folk, a ballad of home is noted as one of the best-known songs by a Canadian composer and was recorded by a number of Canadian singers.
July: Dolores Claman
Dolores Claman was born in Vancouver in July 1927. She initially studied to become a concert pianist, first at the University of Southern California, then at Juilliard. During that time, she developed a love of composition and jazz, and after graduating she moved to London, England. While there, she met lyricist, Richard Morris, whom she worked closely with, and later married. They moved to Toronto, where they became successful jingle writers, creating more than 3,000 jingles and earning 40 awards. In 1968 Dolores was working for the MacLaren Advertising Agency and was asked to write the theme song for Hockey Night in Canada. She was surprised at how popular it became. A hockey fan herself, she realized that many involved in the broadcast were included in the credits, such as ‘lighting by’ and ‘best boy’, and asked to be credited for her work, but the CBC refused. She sold the rights to CTV in 2008 after being unable to reach a deal with the CBC. Another song of hers, which many older, Ontario members will recognize is A Place to Stand, Ontario’s theme from Expo 1967.
Note: When researching for this section, a few months ago, I had decided to lay out who to talk about each month, and had already decided to feature Dolores Claman in July. As I was about to start this, her obituary appeared in our local paper. She died on July 17th, in Spain.
Lozanne (1896-1935) was born Alma Victoria Clarke, in Kamloops, British Columbia. Her mother was a music teacher, and her step-father was the owner of the “Kamloops Standard”. The family moved to Toronto, when Alma was six, then to Victoria a year later. She was a child prodigy, an accomplished violinist and pianist, who performed with the Toronto Symphony to rave reviews. Shortly before WWI she married her first husband, Caledon Dolling, who died at the Somme, after which, Alma joined the French Red Cross and became an ambulance driver. After divorcing her second husband, she devoted herself to her music: teaching and performing. At a performance in Victoria, she met Francis Rattenbury, the architect who designed British Columbia’s legislature buildings. Shunned by Victorian society after Rattenbury left his wife for Alma, they moved to Bournemouth, England in 1928. It was there that she began composing and recording songs under the name of Lozanne. A recording of Frank Titterton singing Black Haired Marie, with Alma accompanying him, can be found on Youtube, and arrangements have been made of four love songs, for violin and piano (they are listed in Trinity College London’s String Syllabus). It’s difficult to find information on Alma as a musician and composer, because in 1935 she committed suicide after being charged, but found not guilty, of the murder of her husband. The story and scandal surrounding his death, and Rattenbury’s own accomplishments as an architect, have completely overshadowed Alma Clarke Rattenbury’s musical contributions.
May: Anne Glen Broder
Eliza Ann Glen was born in Agra, India, the daughter of a missionary. She was educated in England as singer and pianist, and in the 1880s and 90s gave singing recitals, performed as an accompanist and wrote a book on how to accompany.
About 1900 she married Richard W. C. Broder, an Irish widower, who had emigrated to Canada with his former wife. Annie joined him in Regina, then they later moved to Calgary, where she soon became an important figure in the musical community there. She was an organist, taught piano and voice, gave recitals and was a music critic for the paper. During that time, she was also a composer of many songs, with her most popular composition being “The Ride of the North-West Mounted Police”. Originally it was attributed to A. Glen Broder, which may have been to prevent discrimination due to her gender. It was arranged for band by John Waldron and was used for many years by RCMP bands. The titles of many of her other works, such as “Song of the Chinook”, “Northern Harvest” and “Calgary, city of the foothills” demonstrate an embracing of her adopted land.
April: Elinor Dunsmuir
Elinor Dunsmuir (1887-1938) was the granddaughter of British Columbian coal baron, Robert Dunsmuir and has been described as a ‘square peg in a round hole’. She was intelligent and talented but being female and likely gay meant that she wasn’t able to make use of those talents, or be recognized for them, so was left on the fringes of the social circles her family were a part of. To escape some of the constraints of life in Victoria, she moved to Europe, which she loved, and where she was able to continue her musical studies. Unfortunately, she developed a gambling addiction and squandered large sums of money, causing her family to bring her home to Canada in the thirties. Her work was found recently in the archives of Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria, a family home, and they include music for plays, trios, chamber music, a piano concerto, and two fully scored out ballets with story lines and parts for all the orchestra. These works show that she was a gifted composer, her music a unique blend of classical and jazz, unappreciated at the time, and lost to us for close to 100 years.
In 2018, soprano Elizabeth Gerow and pianist Jannie Burdeti presented some of Elinor’s songs as part of the ACWC/AFCC’s Suffragette Concert, and recorded them later that year. You can find out more about Elinor and the recordings on the Craigdarroch Castle site.
March: Urseline Nuns
Some of the earliest known music written by women in Canada, comes from the Ursuline and Augustinian nuns of Quebec, between the years 1639 and 1760. Singing was an integral part of their worship, as well as their instruction of young women, and the music, while anonymous, is believed to have been written by the nuns themselves. One, a mother superior, Marie-André Regnard Duplessis de Saint-Hélène, wrote a treatise on music performance and theory. Marie-Andre was born in Paris in 1687 and died in Quebec in 1760. Her parents emigrated to New France when she was young, though she remained in France until she was 15. She joined the Nuns Hospitallers of the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec when she was 20 and rose to become mother superior, seeing the convent through many difficulties such as fires, and even the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.
February: Hattie Rhue Hatchett
Do you know about Mrs. Hattie Rhue Hatchett (1863-1958) of North, Buxton, Ontario? Her parents were escaped slaves from the Miles plantation in Virginia.
As a child, Hattie attended piano lessons at the Elgin Settlement School. She became a school teacher and a talented pianist and composer, being one of the first in Kent County to receive a certificate in music. However, she would not be hired by the schools, and instead used her talents as an organist, choir leader, Sunday School teacher and president of the Missionary Society in North Buxton.
Hattie wrote religious song and hymns. In 1937, she copyrighted a composition she had written in 1915 entitled “That Sacred Spot”, a hymn with a ‘marching type beat’ that was chosen by the Canadian Military to be their marching song during World War 1. The song was sung by school children for a number of years on Remembrance Day.
(Thank you to Elma Miller for telling my about Hattie and the virtual museum for their biographical information.)