Memorable Manitobans: Lorne Watson (1919-2010)
Born at Leamington, Ontario in 1919, he began violin studies at age 5 and piano at 6. In 1936 he obtained the Associateship Diploma (Piano Performance) of the Toronto Conservatory of Music. In 1938, he was awarded a first-year scholarship where his teachers included Ernest Seitz (piano) and Healey Willan (composition). In 1941 he was awarded the L.T.C.M. diploma with the conservatory gold medal. His piano studies continued with a scholarship to study piano with Rosalyn Tureck in New York. In 1942 he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force later becoming a radar and signals officer. On discharge he enrolled at the University of Toronto where he graduated in 1948 with a BA (Honours Music). In September 1948, he became Director of Music at Brandon College. His musical studies continued with a graduate fellowship to New York University where he obtained an MA degree (Major of Musicology). In 1961 a Canada Council fellowship took him to Indiana University where he studied with Gyorgy Sebok and obtained a doctoral degree in piano.
In 1967 he became Director of the School of Music at Brandon University, serving until 1981 when he became supervisor of its conservatory. For 20 years he was the artistic director of a music festival at the University named in honour of his friend and colleague, Sophie Eckhardt-Gramatté. In 1988 he was honoured on his 40th anniversary at Brandon by the naming of the hall at the Queen Elizabeth II Music building, the Lorne Watson Recital Hall. He retired in 1993 and moved to Winnipeg where he continued to teach at his home studio. In 1994 he was named Professor Emeritus of Brandon University.
He was recognized for his work in the arts with a Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977), the Province of Manitoba Prix Award (1996), and an honorary doctorate from Brandon University (1993).
He died at Winnipeg on 10 January 2010.
“Brandon College appointments,” Winnipeg Tribune, 15 September 1948, page 23.
“Watson changed face of BU music program,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 January 2010.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 15 January 2010.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 31 December 2019