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COMPOSER SHOWCASE

Wesley Octavius Forsyth: Biography

Wesley Octavius Forsyth
1859 - 1937
Region: Ontario

Wesley Octavius Forsyth

A composer, teacher and writer, born in Markham Township, near Toronto, 26 Jan 1859, and died in Toronto 7 May 1937. Forsyth studied in Toronto with Edward Fisher, and then enrolled at the Leipzig Conservatory, where his teachers included Salomon Jadassohn, Martin Krause (piano), Gustav Schreck and Paul Klengel, Richard Hofmann, Robert Papperitz, and Bruno Zwintscher and Adolf Ruthardt . Forsyth's 'Romanza' from his Suite in E Minor, which has enjoyed several performances over the decades, was played in Leipzig 5 Dec 1888 by a military orchestra under Alfred Jahrow.

Forsyth spent most of his teaching music to a generation of pupils in Toronto. He taught piano and theory at the Toronto College of Music and and at the TCM, directed the Metropolitan School of Music , instructed at several colleges in the Toronto area and at the Hamilton College of Music, and taught at the Canadian Academy of Music. In 1923 his pupils formed the Forsyth Club for study and discussion.

Forsyth wrote for publications in London, New York, and Philadelphia and was the regular critic for The Week in Toronto. Cyril Scott, Arthur Friedheim, A.S. Vogt, and Clarence Lucas were among his musical friends and his brother, Cecil, was an organist and music teacher.

While a student Forsyth wrote orchestral pieces and keyboard preludes and fugues. His later works were largely piano compositions for instruction and salon. Forsyth was the first Canada-based composer to have most of his compositions published, including some under the pseudonym Carl Krueger. A collection of manuscripts and papers are archived at the National Library of Canada.

Forsyth's daughter, Marjorie Forsyth Barlow, established the The W.O. Forsyth Memorial Scholarship 'in the higher art of piano playing' in 1968 at the University of Toronto.