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Walter MacNutt: Biography

Walter MacNutt
1910 - 1996
Region: Ontario

Walter MacNutt

Walter (Louis) MacNutt. Organist-choirmaster, composer, b Charlottetown 2 Jun 1910,d Toronto 10 Aug 1996; ATCM 1932. After studies in Prince Edward Island with W.E. Fletcher and Roberta Spencer Full, he attended the TCM 1929-32 and won a national competition 1931. MacNutt received the TCM's Vogt Memorial and Marion Ferguson scholarships. His teachers included Healey Willan (organ and composition) and Reginald Godden (piano).

MacNutt held posts as organist-choirmaster at Trinity Church, Barrie, Ont, 1931-5, and Holy Trinity Church, Toronto, 1935-42. His Suite for Piano was awarded the first Vogt Society prize for Canadian composition, in 1938. He returned to PEI to serve in the Canadian Army 1942-6, playing saxophone in a regimental band, and organ at Charlottetown's St. Peter's Pro-Cathedral. Post-war, MacNutt resumed his career, holding positions at All Saints' Church, Winnipeg, 1946-9, and All Saints' Church, Windsor, Ont, 1949-53, where he also conducted the Windsor Singers for two years in CBC broadcasts. His last, and longest, post prior to retirement was at St Thomas' Church, Toronto, 1954-77.

MacNutt's compositions encompassed both secular and sacred works. His early compositions (listed in Catalogue of Canadian Composers) include works for choir, voice, and orchestra and the Piano Suite (Harris 1939). His later compositions, written mainly for use in the Anglican church, include two Missae breves (BMI Canada 1962, Waterloo 1965), and the Mass of St James (Waterloo 1974), as well as choral, vocal, and organ pieces. Of his many songs, the settings of works by William Blake and 'Take Me to a Green Isle' (a poem by H.E. Foster) became popular. The latter was reissued by Harris in 1990 with MacNutt's setting of a second Foster poem, 'Falls the Snow,' under the title Two Songs. MacNutt's other publishers include BMI Canada (Berandol), Faith, Fischer, Waterloo, and Western.

Author Jeffrey Anderson, Betty Nygaard King - 2009