Sir Ernest MacMillan

Sir Ernest MacMillan
Short Name: Sir Ernest MacMillan
Full Name: MacMillan, Ernest, Sir, 1893-1973
Birth Year: 1893
Death Year: 1973

Ernest MacMillan (Conductor)

Born: August 18, 1893 - Mimico, Canada
Died: May 6, 1973 - Toronto, Canada

The eminent Canadian conductor and composer, Sir Ernest (Alexander Campbell) MacMillan, began his organ studies with Arthur Blakeley in Toronto at age 8, making his public debut at 10. He continued his organ studies with A. Hollins in Edinburgh from 1905 to 1908, where he was also admitted to the classes of F. Niecks and W.B. Ross at the University.

Ernest MacMillan was made an associate (1907) and a fellow (1911) of London’s Royal College of Organists, and in 1911 received the extramural Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Oxford. He studied modern history at the University of Toronto from 1911 to 1914, before receiving piano instruction from Therese Chaigneau in Paris in 1914. In 1914 he attended the Bayreuth Festival, only to be interned as an enemy alien at the outbreak of World War I. While being held at the Ruhleben camp near Berlin, he gained experience as a conductor. He was awarded the B.A. degree in absentia by the University of Toronto in 1915. His ode, England, submitted through the Prisoners of War Education Committee to the University of Oxford, won him his Doctor of Music degree in 1918.

After his release, Ernest MacMillan returned to Toronto as organist and choirmaster of Timothy Eaton Memorial Church from 1919 to 1925. In 1920 he joined the staff of the Canadian Academy of Music, and remained with it when it became the Toronto Conservatory of Music, serving from 1926 to 1942 as its principal. He was also dean of music faculty at the University of Toronto from 1927 to 1952.

Ernest MacMillan was conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from 1931 to 1956, and of the Mendelssohn Choir there from 1942 to 1957. He also appeared as guest conductor in North and South America, Europe, and Australia. He served as president of the Canadian Music Council from 1947 to 1966, and of the Canadian Music Centre from 1959 to 1970. In 1935 he was the first Canadian musician to be knighted, an honour conferred upon him by King George V. He also received honorary doctorates from Canadian and USA institutions. He conducted many works new to his homeland, both traditional and contemporary.

Suggestions or corrections? Contact us