Healey Willan was born in London, England, in 1880. Recognizing his musical inclination, his parents sent him to a choir school at age eight. Three years later he was running choir rehearsals himself, even though some older boys resented being corrected by him. After his voice changed, Willan took advanced studies in organ. He came to Canada in 1913 as the head of the Theory Department of the Toronto Conservatory of Music. He also taught at the University of Toronto. Willan said of himself, "I am a musician who rather likes to compose and I have a good time doing it..." He felt that composition was 98% perspiration and 2% inspiration and that "if a composer... knows his job he can set the telephone directory to music". Willan proved this himself when in 1922 he set the constitution of the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto to music. During his career Willan composed more than 300 pieces of music. His "Symphony No. 1", written in 1936, started a new era of musical productivity in Canada. He was the only nonresident of the United Kingdom to write an anthem for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. He also achieved fame for his work with choirs. Willan died in 1968. The portrait of Healey Willan used on this commemorative stamp was painted by Toronto artist Huntley Brown: Willan is shown at the console of the organ, indicative of his great interest in that instrument and in church music.
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