William Alexander McCauley (February 14, 1917-May 18, 1999) was a Canadian composer , music educator , conductor , arranger, pianist, administrator, and trombonist . He was born at Tofield, near Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on Feb. 14, 1917, receiving his first piano lessons in his hometown and in Edmonton. At the age of 16 he founded his own dance band in Tofield, that worked locally and was broadcast on CFRN, Edmonton, and began his musical studies in 1936 at the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Glenn Gould School in Toronto. Between 1936 and 1940 he also worked as an arranger, pianist, and trombonist with Horace Lapp. During World War II he served as a musician in a military band, pilot, and flight instructor in the Royal Canadian Air Force and later became second conductor of the Toronto Manning Pool Band. After the war he continued his studies at the Conservatory in Toronto and received his Bachelor of Music in 1947. His teachers there Healey Willan (composition ), Leo Smith ( harmony), Margaret Parsons ( piano ), Harry Hawe and Rudolph Baumler (trombone).
From 1947 to 1949 McCauley was a lecturer and conductor at the Ottawa Technical High School. In addition, he was a trombone player in the orchestra of the National Film Board of Canada, perhaps helping to explain his extensive output of film music, and the Ottawa Philharmonic Orchestra. Then became music director with Crawley Films from 1949 to 1957. He also played in the Harmony Symphony Orchestra and worked with Trump Davidson , Art Hallman, and Ellis McLintock. His best-known work, Five Miniatures for flute and string orchestra, comes from 1958. Later he studied at the renowned Eastman School of Music in Rochester with Alan Hovhaness , Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson and graduated as Master of Music in 1959. Privately he studied conducting in Maine with Pierre Monteux . He also completed his studies at the Eastman School of Music and obtained a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in 1960.
From 1960 to 1987 McCauley was house music director at the O’Keefe Centre, now the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, in Toronto. At the same time he was working for other organizations and institutions. He was from 1961 to 1969, music director at York University in Toronto and director of the York University Choir, which under his leadership in 1967 won the “City of Lincoln Trophy.” That year also saw performances of McCauley’s Fantasy on Canadian Folk Songs on Parliament Hill, and of Plus One at Expo ’67. From 1970 to 1978 he was music director of Seneca College in Toronto from 1972 to 1988 and director of the North York Symphony Orchestra. After his retirement he became honorary conductor and honorary president of the orchestra.
McCauley was a prolific and versatile composer. He wrote more than 125 works for movies and conducted a large number of them himself. He also wrote music for television productions and commercial establishments and conducted around 200 recording sessions for films, television, and recordings. Highlights of his film music include the score for the CBC-TV series The Whiteoaks of Jalna (1972), and for the feature films The Neptune Factor (1973), Sunday in the Country (1973), and It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time (1975). McCauley also wrote the score for the CBC-TV historical drama Riel (1979). In 1998 the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) awarded him with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Film and Television Music award, which was presented for the first time. His son Matthew McCauley (born 1954) is a working composer and producer.
Early in his career McCauley developed the adaptable and eclectic style necessary for incidental composition, and he remained a composer without a school. Folk tunes figure in several of his orchestral works, as do elements of jazz. His Concerto Grosso (1973) is neoclassical, lyrical, and rhythmic. In his music generally dissonance is counteracted by appealing rhythms, cohesive counterpoint, and an uncomplicated sense of direction. Some of his short piano pieces have been used as pedagogical material. Several of his concert works have been recorded. In the 1990s, McCauley continued to work as a freelance composer and conductor. He was an associate of the Canadian Music Centre. Dr. William McCauley passed away on May 18, 1999, at Alliston, Ontario, Canada.
The following work by William A. McCauley is contained in my collection:
Five Miniatures for Flute and Strings
—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources