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W. H. (William Henry) Anderson: Biography

W. H. (William Henry) Anderson
1882 - 1955
Region: Prairie

W. H. (William Henry) Anderson

William Henry Anderson (b. London, England, 21 April, 1882; d. Winnipeg, Manitoba, April 12, 1955). He studied voice and composition with private teachers before winning two scholarships to attend the Guildhall School of Music, London. He studied voice in Italy with Garcia and Battistini and was later tenor soloist in London at St. Stephen's Walbrooke Church and St. Paul's Cathedral.

In 1910 he settled in Winnipeg where he was choir leader and soloist at the Central Congregational Church until 1934, then at St. Andrew's United Church, River Heights (1934-54). He was founder and conductor of the Apollo Male Voice Choir, the CNR Mixed Choir and the Oriana Singers as well as conductor of the CBC Choristers (1940-55). He taught singing for many years in Winnipeg; his pupils included Gladys Whitehead and Morley Meredith, a leading baritone of the Metropolitan Opera Company.

He was a prolific composer of songs, carols and anthems. These were published in Canada, the USA, Great Britain and Australia, and have been performed all over the world. He also arranged a large number of Ukrainian, Czech and Icelandic folksongs under the pseudonym of Michael Bilencko, using particularly those variants developed among settlers in Manitoba. He also composed under the pseudonym of Hugh Garland. For his solo songs he sought Canadian verse settings of words of the Victorian poet Audrey Alexandra Brown for instance, and the Winnipeg poets R.H. Grenville, Nan Emerson, Constance and Sheila Barbour and Noreen Moore. His music possesses a natural lyricism and an appreciation of what is idiomatic vocally and chorally. Young singers and volunteer choirs are grateful for these qualities and for the music's effectiveness and durable charm. His compositions are particularly suitable for immature voices and have been used widely in school classrooms, by amateur choirs, and as teaching material.

Contemporary Canadian Composers, Edited by Keith MacMillan and John Beckwith, Published by Oxford University Press, 1975. p.5.


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