Roberta Geddes-Harvey

(Anne Catherine) Roberta Geddes-Harvey (b Geddes). Composer, organist, choirmaster, b Hamilton, Ont, 25 Dec 1849, d Guelph, Ont, 22 Apr 1930. B MUS (Trinity College, Toronto) 1899. She studied music theory with Arthur E. Fisher and was coached for her degree by Edward Fisher and Humfrey Anger.

Geddes-Harvey, Roberta

(Anne Catherine) Roberta Geddes-Harvey (b Geddes). Composer, organist, choirmaster, b Hamilton, Ont, 25 Dec 1849, d Guelph, Ont, 22 Apr 1930. B MUS (Trinity College, Toronto) 1899. She studied music theory with Arthur E. Fisher and was coached for her degree by Edward Fisher and Humfrey Anger. After holding positions as organist in Hamilton, she was appointed in 1876 to be the organist and choirmaster at St George's Anglican Church in Guelph, a position she held for 50 years.

Geddes-Harvey's opera La Terre Bonne or The Land of the Maple Leaf, to a libretto by A. Klugh and a plot set in Canada and South Africa, was premiered in Guelph at the Royal Opera House in 1903. Although the work was deposited for copyright in 1902, no copy has been traced, but at least one tune survives in the composer's adaptation as 'The Old Boys Welcome'. Her oratorio Salvator, to words compiled from the Scriptures, was premiered in Guelph at St George's prior to publication by C.W. Thompson of Boston in 1907 and was later repeated in Guelph, Toronto and Kingston. Geddes-Harvey also wrote anthems, hymns, at least 20 songs, and a few instrumental pieces. Her published works bear copyright dates from 1897 to 1919; most were published by Whaley Royce and C.W. Thompson. Along with Emma Albani, Susie Harrison, Laura Lemon, and Eva Rose York, Geddes-Harvey may be considered one of Canada's first woman composers.


Further Reading

  • 'Mrs. Roberta Geddes-Harvey, Mus.Bac.,' The Church Choir, vol 3, Dec 1907.

    'Orpheus,' 'Salvator,' ibid

    Farquharson, Dorothy H. 'Roberta Geddes-Harvey, Mus.Bac. (1849-1930) composer and organist,' Historic Guelph: The Royal City, vol 17, Apr 1978.