Canadian compositions for coronations and other ceremonial occasions are not numerous, but several composers of distinction, including Charles A.E. Harriss and Healey Willan, have contributed to the genre.
Harriss wrote a Coronation Mass for Edward VII (1902), as well as an ode for the coronation of George V, The Crowning of the King (1911). For the crowning of George VI in 1937, Willan wrote A Coronation Ode to words by Frederick Harris, a Te Deum laudamus, and a Coronation March for orchestra; the last two works were premiered in Toronto under conductor Reginald Stewart. The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 in Westminster Abbey included the singing of Willan's “O Lord, Our Governour” (words from Psalms) with Willan in attendance; it was the first piece of music commissioned for the coronation ceremony of a British monarch from a composer outside Great Britain. For the same occasion, the CBC invited Willan to write his Coronation Suite for choir and orchestra (words from Milton, James Edward Ward, and the Bible), which was premiered on Coronation Day in Toronto under conductor Geoffrey Waddington.
Other CBC commissions included Alexander Brott’s Royal Tribute (orchestra), Jean Coulthard’s A Prayer for Elizabeth (strings), Bernard Naylor’s cantata King Solomon's Prayer, Jean Papineau-Couture’s Prélude (orchestra) and William Keith Rogers’ A Coronation Tribute (orchestra). The coronation of Elizabeth II also prompted Walter Kaufmann’s Coronation Cantata to words by James Reaney. “Elizabeth the Queen,” a song for young people by Claire Senior Burke, was published for the coronation in 1953 by G.V. Thompson.
See also: Public Figures in Canadian Music.
A version of this entry originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.