Title and statement of responsibility area
Rex Battle fonds
General material designation
- Textual record
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Edition statement of responsibility
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Dates of creation area
- Battle, Rex, 1895-1967
Physical description area
4.5 metres of textual records
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Archival description area
Name of creator
Rex Battle, pianist, conductor and composer, was born in London, England, in 1895. As a child, he studied piano under Vlahol Budmani, the court pianist to Edward VII, who later presented Battle at Buckingham Palace before King George V and Queen Mary when he was eight years old. Favoured by the Queen, Battle was invited back by her several times to play duets, as well as the Cowes' regatta and with Landon Ronald's Symphony Orchestra. Considered a child prodigy, Battle soon studied the organ under E.H. Thorne. At age fifteen, Battle played in concert tours across Australia before moving to New York, where he assisted Sigmund Romberg in the production of operettas. At one point, Battle specialized in music for hotels and played at the Astor, Ambassador and McAlpin hotels in New York. He remained in New York for nearly a decade, until his radio debut with a series of broadcasts featured in 1921 on WWJ, Detroit. He was then hired as the musical director at the Mount Royal Hotel in Montreal in 1922. Battle stayed there for seven years, at the time also making recordings as a pianist and conductor for Apex records. Battle then moved to Toronto, where he became the conductor for the Royal York Hotel Concert Orchestra in Toronto, and remained there until 1938. During that time, his orchestra's music was played over the NBC network in the United States for several years. In 1934, Battle formed one of Canada's first jazz bands, influencing Toronto's music scene with the big band style and acquiring both local and national prominence during the 1930s and 1940s. Battle returned to New York in 1941 to play a Town Hall concert and remained there for three years performing, conducting, and studying piano with Moriz Rosenthal and Hedwig Kanner-Rosenthal. When the war began and he was unable to tour, Battle returned to Toronto to join the Promenade Symphony Concerts as a pianist in 1941, and focus on his radio career. Between 1943 and 1956, Battle was the music director and conductor of CBC radio's "Singing stars of tomorrow," and toured the country looking for young talent. Battle composed a short orchestral piece called "Simon says 'thumbs up'," as well as pieces for piano, violin, and voice. In the early 1960s, Battle and his wife moved to Richmond Hill, where Battle continued to remain a part of Toronto's music scene. Beginning in 1962, Battle began performing with young opera singers at Toronto's Gaslight Restaurant and was a frequent customer and performer there for the next few years. Rex Battle died in 1967.
Transferred by the University of Torontos Faculty of Music Library to York University Libraries in March and May 2007.
Scope and content
Fonds consists of music used by the Rex Battle Orchestra, including a series of envelopes arranged alphabetically by song title that contain published scores and lyrics, as well as original arrangements by Rex Battle. Notes written on the envelopes show names of songs, composers and publishers, as well as the musics key, performance dates, costs of the published music and the breakdown of the scores by instrument. This fonds also consists of orchestral scores and sheet music for the piano, organ, violin, viola, clarinet, and other instruments.
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Restrictions on access
No restrictions on access.
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Generated finding aid
The fonds comprises the following accessions: 2007-034. Further accruals may be expected.
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Dates of creation, revision and deletion
2011/07/04 Rachel Lebkovich:. (Creation)
2011/07/04 Awaiting review by the Data Collection Archivist
2011/09/06 RL. Adding series information.
2014/07/22 Migrated to AtoM.
2019/03/01 KCP, NR. Post-migration metadata clean-up. Addition of GMD and accession numbers. Published description and generated finding aid.