Fonds MG3021 - Charles Albert Edwin Harriss Fonds

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Charles Albert Edwin Harriss Fonds

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of the fonds.

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  • 1890-1924 (Creation)
    Harriss, Charles A. E. (Charles Albert Edwin), 1862-1929

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Physical description

32 cm of textual records

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Charles Albert Harriss was born in 1862 in London. Son of a church organist, his knowledge of music was passed down to him from his father. In the 1870s he began his official musical training at St. Michael’s College. He soon became a church organist and choir director. In 1882 he immigrated to Canada to become organist of St Alban's Church in Ottawa. The following year, he came to Montréal to take up a similar post at Christ Church Cathedral which he kept until 1886. After that, he occupied the same function at St James the Apostle until 1896. He emerged as an energetic organizer of musical events in the city and organized tours throughout North America with various artists such as Sir Charles Stanley and the famous Emma Albani. His marriage to a wealthy widow, Ella Beatty, allowed him to dedicate his energies to music. In 1904 Harriss was appointed the first director of McGill's Conservatorium of Music (1904-1907). For Harriss – a convinced imperialist – music was an important means of promoting imperial sentiment and loyalty. In 1907, he left McGill to organize the London Imperial Choir and initiated Empire Day concerts in the British capital. Thereafter, he divided his time between London and Ottawa. Harriss was also a composer. He passed away on July 31st, 1929 in Ottawa.

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Scope and content

Fonds contains manuscript musical scores of Harriss' compositions: pieces for the keyboard, some orchestral works, organ music, part-songs and lieder, religious vocal music and patriotic songs. The rest of the fonds comprises a small amount of correspondence, much of it about the Imperial choir (1910), a photocopy of an autobiography covering the period 1862-1885, photographs of Harriss conducting Empire Day concerts (approximately 1920), and programs, 1890, 1924.

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  • English

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Material in English.

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Associated materials

Library and Archives Canada (Ottawa) has 13 volumes containing compositions, printed programs, albums and various articles. They also have correspondence, programs and folders related to Harriss.

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