March 15, 1827, King's College - the precursor to the University of
Toronto - was granted its royal charter by King George IV. Throughout
2002, U of T celebrated 175 years of Great Minds. As part of the
celebration, the U of T website featured excerpts from The
University of Toronto: A History, written by Martin Friedland, University
Professor and Professor Emeritus of Law at U of T.
MacMillan would have a remarkable career as dean of the music faculty
until 1952, when he was succeeded by Boyd Neel. He would also be
the permanent conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra for twenty-five
years as well as of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir for fifteen.
been a child prodigy; he had played the organ at Massey Hall at the
age of 10. Before the war, he had been assistant organist at Convocation
Hall while a history student at the University. In the summer of 1914,
he had gone to the Wagner festival in Bayreuth, Germany, but the outbreak
of war forced him to spend the next four years in a civilian internment
musical lifeincluded thirteen performances of The Mikado,
the music of which had to be reconstructed from memory .
Ezra Schabas, later the principal of the conservatory, has described
MacMillan's active musical life in the 4,000-man prison camp, Ruhleben,
which included thirteen performances of The Mikado, the music
of which had to be reconstructed from memory. MacMillan also received
an earned Oxford doctorate for the secular oratorio he composed in the
camp - England: An Ode, based on a Swinburne poem. The work was
performed by the Mendelssohn Choir at Massey Hall in 1921.
of the conservatory, MacMillan organized a choir to sing with the conservatory
orchestra. At the inaugural concert in 1928, he conducted Mozart's Requiem.
He also introduced opera at the conservatory: Humperdinck's Hansel
and Gretel at the Regent Theatre in 1928 and Purcell's Dido and
Aeneas the following year at Hart House Theatre.
MacMillan, in 1926, shortly after his appointment as dean of the
faculty of music and head of the Toronto Conservatory of Music.
however, would be a victim of the depression. In 1929, he organized
a rival to the Hart House String Quartet, the Conservatory String Quartet,
which included the later Toronto Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Eli
Spivak. It will be recalled that during his time in Toronto before the
war, the psychiatrist Ernest Jones had complained to Sigmund Freud,
"Music is rare here." If he had remained in Toronto, what
would he have said now?