Collingwood, Arthur (1880-1952)

Norman Palmer, secretary to the Saskatchewan Association of Music Festivals, opined to President Murray that the appointment of Collingwood in October 1930 to the first Chair of Music at the University of Saskatchewan, funded by the Carnegie Corporation, was “one of your frequent masterstrokes.” Born on November 24, 1880 in Halifax, Yorkshire, and trained as an articled organ pupil in Manchester and London, Collingwood obtained his ARCO at the very early age of 15 and his Fellowship in 1904, by which time he was in Aberdeen. His versatility and enthusiasm for music education gained him posts in a church, in two outstanding schools, at Marischal College, University of Aberdeen, and as conductor of the Aberdeen Choral Union, the Madrigal Choir, the Male Choir, and the local BBC Choir.

Collingwood was no stranger to Canada, because his son-in-law was Dean of Graduate Studies at McGill University and he had himself adjudicated widely there in 1929. Collingwood's achievements until he retired in 1947 included adjudicating throughout Saskatchewan and across Canada, introducing music options into the BA and developing a Bmus, supervising the Conservatory of Music in Regina, inspiring the founding of the Western Board of Music (he tried hard to get a national system), conducting the newly formed Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, establishing string ensembles in all Saskatoon collegiates, gaining credit in school for music examinations taken through outside boards, obtaining several thousand dollars from the Carnegie Corporation for equipment and a large record collection for use by students and teachers in the province, and successfully soliciting donations of scores from publishers.

Described by himself as “a propagandist” and by others as “the layman's musician,” Collingwood promoted music and the university in talks to service clubs (he had been the president of the Rotary Club in Aberdeen) and musical organizations. His Friday talks on CFQC illuminated set pieces for examinations, and he was instrumental in the links created between that station, CKRM, and the CBC. Almost every summer, Collingwood traveled to England. He conducted broadcasts of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and in one summer went to twenty concerts and operas in London, Paris and Monte Carlo. In New York he saw Showboat with Paul Robeson and admired the “ever bright lights of Broadway.” He was the highest paid teacher, except for President Murray, and clearly earned his $5,500 salary. His compositions for piano, voice, schoolroom use, and choirs are listed in the Catalogue of Canadian Music. He died in Montreal on January 22, 1952.

Robin Swales

Further Reading

Kallmann, H. 1992. Encyclopedia of Music in Canada, 2nd edition.