William (Edward) France. Organist, composer, pianist, teacher, b Milberta, north of North Bay, Ont, 21 Apr 1912, d Ottawa 23 Nov 1985; FCCO 1937, B MUS (Toronto) 1941, honorary FRCCO 1980. He had piano lessons with his mother and later with Catherine Gibson. At 14 he took his first church appointment but carried out the attendant duties at the piano. He did not begin to study organ until he was 17. His later teachers included Thomas Martin and Gertrude Huntly Green
(piano), Charles Peaker
(organ), Frederick Horwood
(theory), and Eugene Hill
and Healey Willan
(composition). In the early years of his career France held positions in churches in a succession of Ontario towns - Tillsonburg, Sarnia, Sault Ste Marie (Central United), Guelph, and Stratford (Knox Presbyterian). He was organist-choirmaster 1950-80 at Dominion-Chalmers United Church, Ottawa, thereafter serving in an honorary capacity. He taught harmony and counterpoint 1973-6 at the University of Ottawa
and was an examiner for the RCMT.
Most of France's choral compositions are for the church, but he also wrote songs, piano pieces, organ music, and works for small ensembles (eg, Miniature Suite for organ and brass quintet, premiered 25 Aug 1970 at Knox Presbyterian Church, Ottawa). Publishers of his works include BMI Canada, Berandol, Harris, Presser, Ditson, Galaxy, Oxford, Thompson, and Lorenz.
Carolyn Whitley Desjardins
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