William Reed. Organist, choirmaster, composer, b Montreal 9 Sep 1859, d Quebec City 2 Nov 1945. An organ pupil of R.-O. Pelletier and Dominique Ducharme, he won a scholarship at 19 to study at Keble College, Oxford. He is said to have been chosen organist of the college from among 30 contestants. Reed was organist-choirmaster 1884-8 at St Peter's Anglican Church in Sherbrooke, Que, 1888-9 at American Presbyterian and St John the Baptist churches in Montreal, 1899-1900 at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Toronto, and 1900-13 at Chalmers Presbyterian and St Andrew's Presbyterian churches in Quebec City. In 1901 he was guest organist, along with his pupil Henri Gagnon, at the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition. Reed was afflicted by deafness early in his career and after 1913 had to confine himself to composing and writing for The Etude and other magazines.
Reed's major works include the Christmas cantata The Message of the Angels (Ditson 1910), the cantata The Burden of the Cross (Ditson or Presser 1912), the Easter cantata The Resurrection and the Life (Ditson 1911), and the Grand Choeur in D for organ (Vincent 1901; reprinted in CMH vol 4), which Henri Gagnon considered 'one of the very best Canadian compositions' (letter to Helmut Kallmann, 20 Jan 1954). His approximately 50 printed works also include Cantilène for organ (Vincent and Ditson 1900; reprinted in CMH vol 4), the anthem 'Come unto Me' (Whaley, Royce ca 1898; reprinted in CMH vol 9) and other short sacred and secular choral and organ pieces published by Curwen, J. Fischer, H.W. Gray, Harris, Nordheimer, Presser (or Ditson), G. Schirmer, A.P. Schmidt, Vincent, and Whaley Royce.
Reed should not be confused with the English violinist and composer William (Henry) Reed (1876-1942), the friend of Elgar.