Reginald Stewart | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Reginald Stewart

Reginald (Drysdale) Stewart. Conductor, pianist, teacher, administrator, b Edinburgh 20 Apr 1900, d Santa Barbara, Cal, 8 Jul 1984; honorary D MUS (Western Ont) 1949. He studied with H.T.

Stewart, Reginald

Reginald (Drysdale) Stewart. Conductor, pianist, teacher, administrator, b Edinburgh 20 Apr 1900, d Santa Barbara, Cal, 8 Jul 1984; honorary D MUS (Western Ont) 1949. He studied with H.T. Collinson (choirmaster of St Mary's Anglican Cathedral in Edinburgh), with Arhur Friedheim and Mark Hambourg in Toronto, and with Nadia Boulanger and Isidor Philipp in Paris. During the 1920s he was music director of the Savoyards, taught 1921-4 at the Canadian Academy of Music, played in 1921 with the Hambourg Trio, toured western Canada as a pianist in 1925 and conducted The Yeomen of the Guard that same year for CNRT radio, and made many other appearances in Ontario, including several 1926-8 with the Five Piano Ensemble in Toronto.

While conductor of a large radio orchestra heard nationwide 1929-31 on a network sponsored by Imperial Oil, he spent some time in England, where he was guest conductor and soloist 6 Apr 1930 with the London Symphony Orchestra.

When Ernest MacMillan was named conductor of the TSO in 1931, the rivalry-by-definition that existed between him and Stewart (both Bach-lovers, both superior performers, skilled administrators, talented conductors, and charismatic figures) became a matter for partisanship. Stewart's supporters felt he should conduct the TSO. MacMillan, once firmly in charge, proposed a TSO summer series to counter the Promenade Symphony Concerts (which Stewart founded and conducted 1934-41). In the Globe and MailAugustus Bridle predicted 'a scrimmage,with our two chief conductors in the spotlight, each beating time to outspot the other' and suggested (idealistically and unfeasibly) an amalgamation of the Proms and the TSO, with MacMillan and Stewart in joint command. Helmut Kallmann has commented on the conflict between the two conductors, 'I suspect that the rivalry, as in the case of Wagner and Brahms, was between the followers rather than the masters.' If so, the partisanship was durable. A Mayfair article (Feb 1953) stated, 'The 22 years that have passed since MacMillan won the board of directors' nod as permanent conductor [of the TSO] have not dimmed the conviction of some music lovers that it was the younger Stewart who showed the greater promise.' Maurice Solway has commented that 'Knowingly or subconsciously, he emulated Stokowski, even to the point of spurning the baton. His beat was clear - much clearer, in fact, than MacMillan's. He did not share MacMillan's astonishing memory, exacting ear, or, in the final analysis, his musical depth. But he looked like a more exciting conductor. Perhaps to some he also sounded like one.' (Recollections of a Violinist, p.67)

Stewart was music director in the 1930s for Canadian Industries Ltd's 'Opera House of the Air' and founder and conductor of the Toronto Bach Choir, which presented annual performances of the St John Passion. During this period he also conducted (1935) on NBC radio from New York and led orchestras in New York, Washington, and Detroit. In May 1936 he conducted the orchestra of the Opera Guild of Toronto in performances of Tosca, Cavalleria Rusticana, and I Pagliacci. He made his New York Town Hall debut 6 Mar 1937, toured Canada and the USA as a concert pianist, and was a soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. He was conductor 1942-52 of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and director 1941-58 of the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore; he left the conservatory to undertake a major recital and conducting tour, 1958-60, of Europe and South America. On visits to Canada during these years he conducted the premiere of Somers'Five Songs for Dark Voice with Maureen Forrester 11 Aug 1956 at the Stratford Festival and was a guest conductor of the CBC Symphony Orchestra twice in the 1955-6 season and once in each of the 1959-60 and 1960-1 seasons. He also operated a summer school in Oakville, Ont, in 1961. He became artist-in-residence at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, Cal, in 1962 and later was appointed head of the piano department there. His pupils have included Glen Morley, Stanley St John, Albert Steinberg, and John Weinzweig. He was the subject of the documentary film An Evening with Reginald Stewart, shown on PBS 28 Sep 1983.

See also George Stewart (his father).


'Impressions and comparisons: recent musical developments in Britain compared with conditions in Canada,' Toronto Globe, 15 Jul 1933

'Good music made popular,' Empire Club of Canada Addresses (1934-35)

'The business of conducting,' Etude, Mar 1946


as Conductor
Boccherini - Vivaldi: Cello Concertos. Baltimore Cons O, Parisot violoncello. Ca 1954. Counterpoint 555

Ives Symphony No. 3 - Donovan Oboe Suite. Baltimore Little Symphony, Genovese oboe. Ca 1954. Vanguard 468

as Pianist

Bach Program: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring; Partita No. 1; et al. Ca 1964. Educo 3018

Beethoven Sonatas No. 8 and 14; Bagatelles, Opus 126, no. 1 and 2; Rondo, Opus 51, no.1. Ca 1964. Educo 3019

Debussy - Ravel. Ca 1964. Educo 3024

Favorite Pieces by Chopin. Ca 1964. Educo 3051

Masterpieces of the 17th and 18th Centuries. Ca 1964. Educo 3053

More Favorite Pieces by Chopin. Ca 1964. Educo 3052

Schumann Carnival; Toccata, Opus 7; et al. Ca 1964. Educo 3023

Recordings of Chabrier, Godowsky, Rubinstein, and Schumann made for Victor in 1938

Further Reading