By 1976, in addition to many concert works, Rathburn had composed 185 film scores (mostly shorts for the NFB), including To the Ladies (1947); Family Circle (1949); Children's Concert (1951); The Romance of Transportation (1952); Who Will Teach Your Child? (1952); City of Gold (1957; the basis for a symphonic suite of the same name); Universe (1960); Drylanders (1963; his first feature-length score); Pillar of Wisdom (1968); Labyrinth (1967; a multi-screen extravaganza for which a special theatre was built at Expo 67; recorded on Dominion LAB-650S); The World of Paul Kane (1973); The Road to Green Gables (1975; for CBC TV); and Who Has Seen the Wind (1977; feature film). In semi-retirement in Ottawa, Rathburn remained active, composing and doing research on music with a railroad theme. His scores included music for the IMAX films Skyward (1984); Transitions (1986); The First Emperor of China (a China-Canada co-production 1989); for the NFB tribute to Norman McLaren, The Creative Process (1990); and for Momentum (1992), for Expo 92 in Seville, Spain.
Performances 1990s - 2008
Eldon Rathburn enjoyed a late-career resurgence, which began in 1995 when Julian Armour, then director of the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival (OICMF), programmed several of Rathburn's works, including his humorous take on the ill-fated Montreal-Toronto high-speed train (Turbo, 1978). Audience reception was so favourable that Rathburn's music became a staple of the festival. More recent works played at the festival include the humorous and affectionate Ottawa Suite (1996, rev. 2001); Subway Thoughts (1993); Schoenberg vs. Gershwin: A Tennis Match (1991); and Diabolus in Musica (2007). On 31 Jul 2006, the OICMF held a concert dedicated to Rathburn's music in honour of his 90th birthday. The CD Eldon Rathburn: Works (ATMA ACD2 2371) was launched the same evening.
Eldon Rathburn was the subject of a 1995 NFB documentary, They Shoot... He Scores and was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1999. His scores were deposited at Library and Archives Canada. Rathburn was a member of the Canadian League of Composers and an associate of the Canadian Music Centre.
See also Film scores.
Symphonette. 1943 (rev 1946). Orch. Ms
Cartoon No. 1. 1944. Med orch. Ms
Cartoon No. 2. 1946. Med orch. Ms. RCI 41 (Toronto Symphony Orchestra)
Suite (Family Circle). 1949. Orch. Ms
Images of Childhood. 1950. Orch. Berandol (rental). RCI 19 (TSO)/CBC SM-119 (CBC Winnipeg orch)
Suite (Children's Concert). 1951. Orch. Ms
Overture to a Hoss Opera. 1952. Sm orch. Ms
Nocturne. 1953. Sm orch. Ms
Overture Burlesca. 1953. Orch. Ms
Variations and Fugue on Alouette. 1953. Sm orch. Ms
Milk Maid Polka. 1956. Med orch. Ms
Gray City. 1960. Med orch. Ms
City of Gold. 1967. Orch. Ms
Aspects of Railroads. 1969. Orch. Ms
Steelhenge. 1974. Steel band and orch. Ms
Three Ironies. 1975. Brass quintet and orch. Ms
The Train to Mariposa. 1986. Ms
Light and Shadow. String orch. 1995
Miniature. 1949. Ww quartet, brass quartet. Ms
Parade. 1949. Picc, woodwind quartet, brass trio, percussion. Ms
Pastorella. 1949. Ob, string trio, double-bass. Ms
Waltz for Winds. 1949 (rev 1956). Ww quartet. Ms
Second Waltz for Winds. 1949. Ww quartet. Ms
Conversation. 1956. 2 clarinet. Jay 1971. Dominion S-69004 (Galper clarinet)
Bout. 1971. Guit, double-bass. Ms
The Metamorphic Ten. 1971. Accor, mand, banjo, guitar, double-bass, harp, piano, celesta, 3 percussion. Berandol (rental). 1974. Crystal Records S-504 (instr ensemble, Rathburn conductor)
Two Interplays. 1972. Saxophone quartet. Ms
The Canadian Brass Rag. 1974. Brass quintet. Canadian Brass 1979. Boot BMC-3004 (Canadian Brass)
The Nomadic Five. 1974. Brass quintet. GVT 1986
Turbo. 1978. Brass quintet. Ms
The Rise and Fall of the Steam Railroad. 1982. Chamb ensemble. Ms
Junction and Prelude and Fugue. 1983. Jew's harps. Ms
Trio: Dorian Crossing. 1987. Cl, violoncello, piano. Ms
2 Railoramas. 1990. Ww octet. Ms
Subway Thoughts. String quartet. 1993. Ms
Soliloquy. Solo viola. 1999. Ms
Concertino for Banjo and String Quartet. 1999. ms
Diabolus in Musica. Flute, clarinet, string quartet, double bass, and piano. 2007
Six Railroad Preludes (1988, also orch version)
Schoenberg vs Gershwin: A Tennis Match. Piano. 1991. Ms (orchestration 1997)
The Iron Horses of Delson. Piano. 1992. Ms
Ghost Train. Piano. 1992. Ms
Also five works for voice; and two multi-media works: Of Many People (1970) and It All Depends (1974)
Author Clifford Ford, Evan Ware
New for Now: An Adventure in Learning for Young Clarinetists. Avrahm Galper clarinet, Stanley McCartney clarinet, John Fetherston clarinet, Bernard Temoin clarinet, Leo Barkin piano. 1963. Dominion
Labyrinthe. Various musicians, Louis Applebaum conductor. 1967. CBC/CAPAC
CBC Winnipeg Orchestra. CBC Winnipeg Orchestra, Eric Wild conductor. 1969. CBC
The Nomadic Five. Canadian Brass. 1976. CBC
The Metamorphic Ten. Various musicians, Eldon Rathburn conductor. 1977. Crystal Records
Encore. Canadian Brass. 1987. CBC MVCD 1011
Mostly Railroad Music. Various artists. 1994. Crystal CRR 520
Rhapsody on Rails. Vancouver Youth Symphony Orchestra, Arthur Polson conductor. 1995. VYSO
Canadian Compositions for Young Pianists / Compositions canadiennes pour jeunes pianistes. Elaine Keillor piano. 2000. Studea Musica 2000
Eldon Rathburn: Works. Jonathan Crow violin, Guylaine Lemire violin, Julian Armour cello, Murielle Bruneau bass, Jennifer Swartz harp. 2006. ATMA ACD2 2371
"Music from the films," CBC Times, 28 Apr-4 May 1962
La Cinémathèque canadienne. Musique et cinéma (Montréal 1965)
'Music can often communicate better than dialogue: a profile of NFB's Eldon Rathburn,' Canadian Composer, 35, Dec 1968
Reference Division, McPherson Library, University of Victoria. Creative Canada, vol 1 (Toronto 1972), MacMillan, Keith and Beckwith, John, eds. Contemporary Canadian Composers (Toronto 1975)
Davies, Victor. "Interview with Eldon Rathburn," Spotting Notes, Guild of Canadian Film Composers, Spring 1997
Winston, Iris. "Eldon Rathburn: A musical life," Due West/Due East, Summer 2007
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Music Centre
Search the extensive CMC website for Canadian composer biographies and interviews, music scores, online newsletters, audio clips, podcasts, and more. Check out "CentreStreams" to listen to online archived recordings featuring outstanding Canadian composers.
The Ottawa Chamber Music Society
The website for the Ottawa Chamber Music Society, host of the annual Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival. Check out the current concert calendar and the "Recordings" links for music clips.
Eldon Rathburn: They Shoot... He Scores
A synopsis of "Eldon Rathburn: They Shoot... He Scores," a documentary film dedicated to composer Eldon Rathburn. Check out the images and video excerpts from the film. From the National Film Board.
Eldon Rathburn fonds
This guide provides a general overview of the Eldon Rathburn fonds held at Library and Archives Canada.
Eldon Rathburn: Works
Album notes for the recording “Eldon Rathburn: Works,” devoted to Canadian composer Eldon Rathburn. From the website for ArkivMusic.
Watch the "Universe" by Roman Kroitor and Colin Low, a film that depicts an animated journey to distant objects in the universe (said to be the inspiration for Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi opus "2001"). From the National Film Board of Canada.