Kenneth Peacock | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Kenneth Peacock

Kenneth (Howard) Peacock. Ethnomusicologist, composer, pianist, b Toronto 7 Apr 1922, d there 22 Nov 2000; ATCM 1935 or 1937, B MUS (Toronto) 1943.

Peacock, Kenneth

Kenneth (Howard) Peacock. Ethnomusicologist, composer, pianist, b Toronto 7 Apr 1922, d there 22 Nov 2000; ATCM 1935 or 1937, B MUS (Toronto) 1943. He studied piano at the TCM (RCMT) with Alma Cockburn in 1935 and Reginald Godden 1948-9; he also took private lessons in Toronto with Mona Bates 1939-40 and in Montreal with Michel Hirvy in 1950. At the University of Toronto he studied theory 1941-3 with Healey Willan and Leo Smith and composition 1944-6 with John Weinzweig. He continued his composition studies in 1950 with Francis Judd Cooke at the New England Conservatory, Boston. During this period he also taught piano and theory privately, 1937-46 in Toronto and 1947-54 in Ottawa, and performed as a pianist in several Canadian cities.

Peacock was on the staff of the National Museum of Man (Canadian Museum of Civilization) in Ottawa as a researcher on indigenous music and the music of ethnic minorities 1951-72 and a research fellow 1969-72. His many projects for the museum covered virtually every part of Canada. He concentrated on the folk music of Newfoundland 1951-2 and 1958-61 and of various ethnic groups 1962-74, as well as on the music of the Plains Indians 1953-4. Some of his recordings, illustrating the music of several tribes, were released on the LP Indian Music of the Canadian Plains (ca 1955, Folk FE-4464). In 1954 he discussed some of his discoveries on the CBC radio program 'Folk Songs from Newfoundland.'

Peacock was one of the first Canadian folk-music collectors with a solid musical training. The originality of his work also resided in the fact that it embraced the full range of Canada's ethnic groups. He published articles in such journals as Alphabet, Bulletin of the CFMS, Ethnomusicology, and the Journal of American Folklore. He contributed to published folk-music collections edited by Helen Creighton, Robert Klymasz, and Alan Mills. Harry Somers, Violet Archer, and other Canadian composers incorporated Peacock's work into their folksong arrangements, and folksingers such as Alan Mills and Tom Kines often used his material. Peacock was also a contributor to EMC.

Peacock's compositions include Bridal Suite (1947, BMI Canada 1950, recorded by Godden), Children's Suite (1950), Idioms (1950, a work derived from Indian and folk sources), and Toccata (1958), all for piano. He also wrote a Sonata (1947) for violin and piano, Essay (1949) for clarinet and strings, a String Quartet (1949), which won the music competition of the McGill Chamber Music Society, and the cantata Songs of the Cedar (1950) for mezzo-soprano, flute, cello, and double-bass (Olympic citation, 1952). His work for choir and orchestra ,Rituals of Earth, Fire and Darkness (1950), was inspired by Iroquois texts, and Essay on Newfoundland Themes (commissioned by Ernest MacMillan 1961) for orchestra contains elements of Newfoundland folk music.

Peacock performed on the LP Songs and Ballads of Newfoundland (ca 1956, Folk FG-3505). A selection from his field recordings was issued as Songs of the Newfoundland Outports (1984, Pigeon Inlet PIP-7319). He was a founding member of the Canadian Music Council, a member of the CLComp, and an associate of the Canadian Music Centre. Peacock was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1982, and in 1998 was honoured with the Marius Barbeau Medal from the Folklore Studies Association of Canada.

Peacock's papers are deposited at the Saskatchewan Archives; many of his audio recordings and photographs are held by the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Writing in Ethnologies, Anna Guigne stated that "his audio-recordings and transcriptions are an immense ethnographic encapsulation of the diversity of Canada's traditional folk music and folk culture," and that he helped shape the folk-music revival in Canada.


The Native Songs of Newfoundland, National Museum of Canada Bulletin 190 (Ottawa 1960)

A Survey of Ethnic Folk Music across Western Canada, National Museum of Canada Anthropology Paper No. 5 (Ottawa 1963)

Songs of the Newfoundland Outports, 3 vols, National Museum of Man Bulletin 197 (Ottawa 1965)

A Practical Guide for Folk Music Collectors (Ottawa 1966)

Twenty Ethnic Songs from Western Canada, National Museum of Man Bulletin 211 (Ottawa 1966)

Songs of the Doukhobors, National Museum of Man Bulletin 231 (Ottawa 1970)

A Garland of Rue, National Museum of Man Folk Culture series 2 (Ottawa 1971)

"Marius Barbeau," Canadian Folk Music Journal, vol 12, 1984

"Culture and continuity: A personal reminiscence of the nineteen-sixties," Spirit Wrestlers Centennial Papers in Honour of Canada's Doukhobor Heritage, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa, 1995

'Folk and aboriginal music'/'La musique folklorique et aborigène,' Aspects of Music in Canada/Aspects de la musique au Canada

See also Bibliography for Folk Music; Folk Music, Anglo-Canadian: Newfoundland.

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