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Music Archives at the National Library of Canada

FLEMING, ROBERT, 1921-1976
MUS 95


Robert Fleming fonds.  - [ca.  1900], 1932-1976.  - 5.29 m of textual records.  - 313 photographs.  1 negative.  - 2 cm.  of drawings.  - 68 audio tape reels.  - 114 audio discs. 

Biographical sketch
Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Robert Fleming began his musical studies with his mother before continuing his training in Saskatoon with various teachers.  At age 10, he joined the St. John's Cathedral Choir under the direction of W. Seemer Betts.  He also competed in music festivals as a pianist, solo singer, choir member and accompanist.  From 1937 to 1939, the young artist attended the Royal College of Music in England, where he studied piano with Arthur Benjamin and composition with Herbert Howells.  On his return to Canada, he taught piano and in 1940 embarked on a recital tour in Saskatchewan, which included an appearance at Dark Hall in Regina.  Under the direction of Dean Arthur Collingwood, Fleming worked as a regular pianist with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra during the 1941-42 season while pursuing his piano studies with Lyell Gustin.  In 1941 and 1945, he obtained CAPAC scholarships and enrolled at the Toronto Conservatory of Music, where he received instruction from Healey Willan (composition), Norman Wilks (piano), Ettore Mazzoleni (conducting) and Frederick Silvester (organ), among others. 

In 1946, after teaching piano at Upper Canada College, he went to work for the National Film Board of Canada as a composer (1946-58), first in Ottawa and then in Montreal, where he served as Music Director (1958-70).  In 1970, he returned to Ottawa as a professor and course instructor at Carleton University.  A prolific composer, Fleming composed over 500 works, including 250 for ballet and film (Air Ambulance, Camp for Kids, Canada at War, Canada - USA, Jacky Visits the Zoo, Red Runs the Fraser, Rural Music Festival, Tuktu Series, etc.).  A number of Fleming's works were commissions, including Ballet Introduction (Les Grands Ballets Canadiens), Three Contrasts (Canadian Music Centre), Our Mind Was the Singer (National Arts Centre) and Of a Timeless Land (Ottawa Civic Orchestra).  During his career, he was also active as an organist and music director in cities throughout Saskatchewan, Quebec and Ontario.  After his death in November 1976, the Robert Fleming Award, administered by the Canadian Music Council and then by the Canada Council, was created as well as a second Robert Fleming Award, established by the Ottawa Music Festival Association. 

Scope and content
The fonds consists of records pertaining to Robert Fleming's career as a composer and his activities at the National Film Board.  In addition, it contains material pertaining to other activities in which Fleming was involved such as teaching and music direction.  The records include, among other items, biographical notes; lists of works; correspondence; contracts; minutes; musical works; shot lists; transcripts; course notes; exercises; certificates; examination questions; texts of public addresses; concert programmes; financial documents; scrapbooks; press clippings; photographs, mainly of Robert Fleming; drawings and sound recordings of works by Fleming and other composers. 

The fonds comprises the following series:  MUS 95/A Correspondence; MUS 95/B Studies; MUS 95/C Teaching and Public Speaking; MUS 95/D Musical Works; MUS 95/E Concert Programmes; MUS 95/F Oklahoma! - Music Direction; MUS 95/G Scrapbooks; MUS 95/H Press Clippings; MUS 95/I Photographs; MUS 95/J Drawings; MUS 95/K Sound Recordings; and MUS 95/L Miscellaneous. 

Immediate source of acquisition:  acquired from Margaret Fleming, Robert Fleming's widow, in several accessions between 1978 and 1986. 

Restrictions:  none. 

Finding aids:  Stéphane Jean.  The Robert Fleming fonds:  Numerical List.  Ottawa:  National Library of Canada.  1998.  148 p.  (http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/music/index-e.html#fonds).



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