Accomplishments of Elaine Keillor

  • Elaine Keillor made her first appearance as a pianist at the age of two and a half in Detroit at a prestigious medical convention honoring the US colleague of Madame Currie, Dr. Rollin Stevens.
  • Before the age of ten she received the highest marks from the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto) given in five grades, three for piano and two for violin.
  • At the age of ten she completed all of the theoretical requirements for the Associate degree and subsequently obtained the piano ARCT.  For over six decades she remained the youngest to ever achieve that distinction.
  • She first appeared with orchestra under John Adaskin as a guest on the CBC’s Opportunity Knocks program, June 8, 1954, in Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto.
  • In 1958 she was awarded the Chappell Medal as the most promising pianist in the British Commonwealth.
  • In 1959 she performed with orchestra in Germany and gave recitals in Great Britain before embarking on a 100-appearance tour, coast-to-coast in Canada.
  • An undiagnosed hand injury suffered on this tour later led to the decision to pursue more academic studies first at York University and then the University of Toronto while remaining active as a musician, holding positions as a church organist/choir director, accompanying, and as a chamber and solo pianist.
  • Graduate studies were fully supported with scholarships and led to her becoming the first woman to obtain a doctorate in musicology from the University of Toronto in 1976.
  • In 1977 she accepted a full-time appointment at Carleton University where she was put in charge of undergraduate and graduate teaching of courses in Canadian music as well as lecturing on the Baroque and Classical periods.
  • At Carleton University she initiated a Festival of Canadian Music in 1978 at which many premieres occurred and Keillor collaborated with Ottawa musicians in recital, and CBC broadcasts.
  • She introduced the first course given at a Canadian university on the musical expressions of the First Peoples in 1980 and embarked on extensive fieldwork in the Northwest Territories.
  • Even as a graduate student, she had compiled large bibliographies of information on earlier Canadian musicians that became the basis of much of the research for the first edition (1981) of the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada for which Keillor wrote 33 entries.
  • The Faculty of Arts at Carleton University awarded Keillor in 1981 the Merit Award for her excellence in teaching.
  • In 1981, Keillor became a founding member of the Canadian Musical Heritage Society to research and publish music compositions created in Canada prior to 1950. Eventually 25 volumes with some 1,150 compositions appeared of which Keillor researched and edited four. The first one, Piano Music I (1983), earned reviews such as: “…Intelligent and comprehensible preliminary notes situate the climate of XIXth century musical Canada …;. … an important chronicle of Canadian life…; …a fascinating collection.”
  • She launched the Ottawa centre of the non-competitive festival, Canadian Music Showcase in the 1980s, still flourishing in 2020.
  • Her book, John Weinzweig and His Music: the Radical Romantic of Canada (Scarecrow Press, 1994), received comments such as: “…a well-researched, authoritative study … catching much of the atmosphere of musical life in Canada.”
  • In 1997, Keillor began the recording label, Carleton Sound. This was to showcase successful alumnae as well as the compositions by faculty at Carleton University and to make available performances of Canadian compositions that were not otherwise being recorded.
  • In 1999, Keillor was the inaugural recipient of the Canadian Women’s Mentor Award, Arts and Culture category. The following year she received the Outstanding Teacher Award from the Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association. In 2004, she received the Helmut Kallmann Prize for Distinguished Service from the Canadian Association of Music Libraries.
  • She worked closely with CPAC producers to provide and perform/record period-appropriate Canadian music for their documentaries on the Rideau Canal, the first fourteen Canadian Prime Ministers (2004), among other productions.
  • Drawing on her training/research of harpsichord and fortepiano, Dr. Keillor gives recitals involving clavichord, harpsichord, fortepianos, and modern piano for the University of Ottawa Piano Pedagogy Research Lab.  Five hours of performance/ lectures as DVDs have been prepared on different stylistic periods that are used for long-distance teaching and on-site.
  • Music in Canada: Capturing Landscape and Diversity (2006; pb. 2008) hailed as a “… prodigious effort representing a deep knowledge of all aspects of Canadian music. …Keillor documents ‘the full range of sounds’ produced in this country, …a comprehensive amount of material in a full range of styles, including classical, jazz, rock, and folk.  … a landmark in the study of music in Canada, …it provides both a fascinating narrative and an indispensable reference. …”
  • Her continuing publications include contributions to prestigious imprints such as The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2001), Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Volume III: North America (2001), The World of Music: Journal of the Department of Ethnomusicology Otto-Friedrich University of Bamberg (2002), Profiles of Canada (2003), Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart (2005), Music of the First Nations: Tradition and Innovation in Native North American Music (2009).
  • Since 2005 to facilitate Canada’s First Peoples in having access to information about their heritages, she has overseen the production and written much content for the educational websites, Native Drums [], Native Dance [], Path of the Elders [], and First Encounters, as well as writing on Canadian music for websites developed by Library and Archives Canada, and the National Arts Centre.  The First Peoples’ websites have been hailed as models of consultative practices and decision-making involving communities, Elders, and musicians of the heritages concerned.
  • She researched and was principal author of the first ever encyclopedia on First Peoples’ music of North America, Encyclopedia of Native American Music, (Greenwood Press 2013).
  • Having given premieres of many Canadian chamber and piano works, Keillor included 104 previously unrecorded Canadian piano pieces created between the years of 1807 and 2010 on Sounds of North, a four-CD set that appeared in 2012.
  • In 2014, NAXOS released When Music Sounds: Coulthard, Weinzweig, Guerrero, Archer on their world-wide distribution of Canadian Classics. These works were performed with cellist, Joan Harrison.
  • Centrediscs of the Canadian Music Centre launched her recording called Poetic Sketches in 2015.  It included piano works by Ontario composers of the past thirty years.
  • In 2016, Elaine Keillor performed “Stage to Salon” at an operatic transcriptions recital at BISC Arts Week in England on February 4. She hosted “The Keyboard Lesson during the Elizabethan Period” with Gilles Comeau in Freiman Hall, Perez Building, University of Ottawa on April 13th. She also held performances in Beijing and Shanghai, China with the Ottawa Bach Choir on the 25th through the 29th of April.
  • Elaine Keillor was appointed to the Order of Canada in June 2016 with the citation:  A renowned pianist and musicologist, Elaine Keillor has enriched our understanding of Canada’s musical culture. Professor emerita at Carleton University, she has focussed her research on historical and contemporary Canadian music. Notably, her book “Music in Canada” has set the standard for study in this field. She has also worked to preserve the music and culture of Canada’s Indigenous peoples by introducing the study of First Peoples’ music in universities, and she has worked extensively with First Nations communities to help showcase their musical heritage.
  • On November 12, 2016, Carleton University bestowed on Keillor an Honorary Doctor of Music for her many contributions as a performer, teacher, writer, and researcher.
  • 2016-19: Elaine Keillor performed a series of Amberwood Concerts of duos, piano trios and piano quartets involving the musicians Lindsay Foster, Joan Harrison, Emily Redhead, Pemi Paull, and including works by Brahms, Farrenc, Fauré, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Walton. This took place in Ottawa.
  • In 2017, Elaine Keillor performed for Music & Beyond Festival and Cantabile.
  • 2019: Lecture/Recital: “A Tribute to Carl,” in the Edward Johnson Building at the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto on April 11th. “Canadian Women: Musical Pioneers,” Almonte Lectures in Almonte Old Town Hall on April 26th. “Canadiana Enchantments,” DOMS Series, Southminster United Church, Ottawa, May 15, Music & Beyond, Ottawa, July 6, 12, 2019; A Special Recital featuring Elaine Keillor, Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre, 13 September 2019. Recording of live recital including works by Bach, Haydn, Chopin, Debussy, Gardiner, plus world premiere of Christine Donkin’s “The Light That Remains” released by Carleton University in 2020.
  • 2021: Two recording, “Mouvement à la pavane” by Calixa Lavallée and “Chanson II of “Suite canadienne” by Léo-Pol Morin (James Caillou) used as background music for the TV, La faille. 
  • 2022: Recording of sound track for film, My Four Mothers, Pinegrove Productions; Collaborator with flutist, Paula Conlon, at Musical Arts Club Gala, October 15; two webinars for Conservatory Canada on “Clementi and the Fortepiano,” “Ornamentation,” posted on YouTube, in November.
  • Recent essay publications include: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, 2005, 2022; Pieter Dietz Musikproduction Höflich, Munich, 2015 for Cécile Chaminade and 2019 for Ernest Schelling; The SAGE International Encyclopedia of Music and Culture, 2019; Spiritual Herstories, 2019; Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart: Allegemeine Enzyklopädie der Musik, 2005, 2024; The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Victorian Women’s Writing, 2022.
© 2024 All Rights with
Elaine Keillor