W.E. Fairclough

W.E. (William Erving) Fairclough. Organist, choirmaster, teacher, b Barrie, Upper Canada (Ontario), 29 Aug 1859, d ?; FRCO 1888. His parents settled in Hamilton, Ont, in 1865, and he sang as an alto in Christ Church choir and studied piano with G.F. De Vine and organ with D.J. O'Brien.

Fairclough, W.E.

W.E. (William Erving) Fairclough. Organist, choirmaster, teacher, b Barrie, Upper Canada (Ontario), 29 Aug 1859, d ?; FRCO 1888. His parents settled in Hamilton, Ont, in 1865, and he sang as an alto in Christ Church choir and studied piano with G.F. De Vine and organ with D.J. O'Brien. Fairclough was organist 1876-83 at Christ Church Cathedral and accompanied various Hamilton choirs. He went to England for studies 1883-5 at the RCM. His teachers were Walter Parratt (organ), Alfred Caldicott (piano), Sir Frederick Bridge (harmony and counterpoint), and Edward Wharton (voice). In England he held appointments 1883-7 as organist-choirmaster in London and Folkestone and also played the organ at the orchestral services conducted at St Paul's Cathedral, London, by Caldicott and by George Clement Martin. He formed a choral society in Folkestone, conducted choral-orchestral concerts, and appeared frequently as a solo pianist. He returned to Canada to serve 1887-90 as organist-choirmaster at St George's Church, Montreal, then moved to Toronto to take a similar post at All Saints' (Anglican) Church. Fairclough was active in the Toronto Church Choir Association and was its conductor for one year. He also gave annual series of organ recitals in Toronto and performed widely in Canada and the USA, notably at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo. By 1893 he was an examiner in harmony, counterpoint, and history for the University of Toronto. He also taught organ, piano, and theory for many years at the Toronto College of Music.

Fairclough's younger brother, George (Herbert) Fairclough (b Hamilton 30 Jan 1869, d Saratoga, Cal, 27 Mar 1954), studied with his brother and with D.J. O'Brien and was a church organist in Hamilton, Toronto, and Brantford before studying at the Hochschule für Musik, Berlin, in the 1890s. Moving to the USA, he held several church and synagogue positions and was dean of the American Guild of Organists 1910-13 and head of the School of Music at the University of Minnesota 1920-37. He composed songs, keyboard pieces, and several choral pieces, including a Te Deum and Jubilate in A and a Mass. His Varsity Vocal Lancers was published by Suckling in 1889. Ashdown, Gray, and Presser also published his works.


Further Reading

  • 'W.E. Fairclough,' MCan, vol 2, Dec 1907

    Fairclough, Harry Rushton. Warming Both Hands (Palo Alto, Cal 1941)