Maitland Farmer

Maitland (Adam Ernest) Farmer. Organist, choirmaster, teacher, pianist, harpsichordist, b London 24 Feb 1904, naturalized Canadian 1969, d Eastern Passage, NS, 12 Jun 1995; LRAM 1921, FRCO 1936, B MUS (Toronto) 1947, honorary DCL (King's College, Halifax) 1963, honorary FRCCO 1984.

Farmer, Maitland

Maitland (Adam Ernest) Farmer. Organist, choirmaster, teacher, pianist, harpsichordist, b London 24 Feb 1904, naturalized Canadian 1969, d Eastern Passage, NS, 12 Jun 1995; LRAM 1921, FRCO 1936, B MUS (Toronto) 1947, honorary DCL (King's College, Halifax) 1963, honorary FRCCO 1984. A pupil of Reginald Goss-Custard and George Cunningham in London, Farmer took his first appointment as organist-choirmaster at Holy Trinity, Cloudesley Square, followed by positions at St-André Church in Pau, France, and, back in London, at St Luke's, South Kensington, where ca 1923 he gave his first series of recitals. He also worked for the London branch of the Duo-Art Company of New York, producing piano rolls edited by Percy A. Scholes.

Farmer moved to Canada and served 1929-31 as organist-choirmaster at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Quebec City, and 1932-44 at St Paul's Anglican Church in Toronto. He moved to Montreal in 1944 as teacher of piano at McGill University and as organist-choirmaster at St George's Anglican Church and to Halifax in 1946 as organist-choirmaster at All Saints Cathedral, retaining that position until 1971. He taught organ 1966-71 for Dalhousie University and was organist-choirmaster 1971-3 at St James Anglican Church, Halifax. He retired from full-time teaching and performing in 1971. His pupils included Leon Cole, Don Forbes, Nancy Fraser, Alexander Gray, John Grew, Michael Gormley, and David MacDonald. During his term (1951) as chairman of the Halifax Centre of the CCO (RCCO), a fund was established from which organ students could borrow for study abroad.

Farmer was also known as one of Canada's leading organ recitalists; this phase of his career began in 1930 with radio broadcasts. He gave a command performance in 1934 for the governor general, Lord Bessborough, and played for the Casavant societies of Toronto (1938 and 1943) and Montreal (1945) and for CCO conventions in Toronto in 1942 and Montreal in 1951. Besides giving over 100 recitals on CBC radio from Toronto and Halifax, he performed daily for a week at the Canadian Pavilion of Expo 67. He was also harpsichord soloist on several occasions with CBC string orchestras and with the Halifax Symphony Orchestra. In 1988 he moved to Amherst, NS; he is buried in Dartmouth.


Further Reading

  • Fraser, Nancy I.W., 'In Memoriam: Maitland Farmer (1904-1995),' RCCO Newsletter, Sept 1995