Clifford Ford | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Clifford Ford

Clifford (Robert) Ford. Composer, teacher, writer, b Toronto 30 May 1947; B MUS (Toronto) 1970, M MUS (McGill) 1981.

Ford, Clifford

Clifford (Robert) Ford. Composer, teacher, writer, b Toronto 30 May 1947; B MUS (Toronto) 1970, M MUS (McGill) 1981. After lessons in piano, organ, and voice 1957-62 with Eric Lewis in Toronto, and in theory and composition 1960-4 with John Beckwith at the RCMT, he studied at the University of Toronto with Beckwith and Weinzweig. On a CAPAC Sir Ernest MacMillan Award/Fellowship he studied with István Anhalt 1970-1 at McGill University, later returning there for further studies 1980-1. He also studied with G. Michael Koenig at the Institute of Sonology in Utrecht, the Netherlands in 1973. Ford was a founding member of ARRAY in 1971. He was a staff researcher and writer for Contemporary Canadian Composers and EMC; he lectured on theory at McMaster University 1974-6, and was a member of the Dept of Music of Dalhousie University 1976-80, teaching composition, theory, and Canadian music history and conducting a chamber choir. In 1981, he co-founded the Canadian Musical Heritage Society, based in Ottawa, acting as executive secretary and technical editor. He has edited volumes 2 and 9 in the CMH series (Sacred Choral Music I and II, 1984 and 1988). In 1989 he also began to act as a consultant on electronic publishing.

Ford has composed in several idioms, his work reflecting a variety of influences. His early pieces employ a Webernian 12-tone technique which evolved into a more refined and delicate (though at times dramatic) polyphonic approach. His music later turned towards neo-romanticism. Among his instrumental works are five string quartets (1965-70); two woodwind quintets (1968, 1975); several chamber works, including Atman-Source (1969) for clarinet, viola and piano, Thorybopoioumenoi (1972) for soprano, flute, viola and electronic tape, and Metamorphoses (1977) for piano trio; and solo pieces for guitar (1971), saxophone (1971), piano (1972), and organ (1972-3). His Suite for Orchestra (1973) was premiered in 1974 by the TS. His choral works include Cantata (1972), Mass (1976, a commission from the Festival Singers, premiered by them in 1977 in Toronto and performed that same year at Musicanada), Day of Wrath (1978, commissioned by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir), Songs of the Sea (1979), Hauntings (1982), The Rose (1988), and Three Jimmies (1990). The opera Hypnos (1972) was a commission from the Young Canada Opera Theatre. Valley of the Moon (NFB 1972) is one of several film scores. Through a long association with organist Willis Noble, Ford has written works for organ, both solo and with other instruments, including Variations on Acadia (1985) for organ and string quartet, and Forbidden Colours (1983) for organ and oboe d'amore. He has also written a number of vocal works, including Halifax, 6 December, 1917 (1979) and Three Medieval English Lyrics (1987). Metamorphoses has been recorded by the Dalart Trio (1981, RCI 551) and Mass has been recorded by the Elmer Iseler Singers (1981, Centrediscs CMC-0281/RCI 564). A Little Fantasy on J.P. Clarke's Ballad 'Summer and Winter' for piano is published in Musical Canada.

Ford is an associate of the Canadian Music Centre.


Clifford Ford, 'Array visits the Gaudeamus Festival,' ARRAY Newsletter, vol 1, Winter 1973-4

Canada's Music: An Historical Survey (Toronto 1982)

Further Reading