Though we may complain – well Canadian’s don’t really complain we whine and winge – about the CBC even it’s most vocal critics have to admit that our National Broadcaster has the knack for making excellent radio documentaries. Last weekend’s Sunday Edition was devoted to three segments on Canada at 150 years including the final in their series on “Music That Changed My Life”. Over the past few months host Michael Enright and musicologist and critic Robert Harris have been delving into music that has changed lives and for their final programme they examined the checkered history of what became our Official National Anthem in 1980.
The entire segment can be accessed at: Sunday Edition: Everything You Didn’t Know But Were Afraid To Ask About “O Canada”.
Amongst the several recordings that Mr Harris played during the full episode was one I had never heard before by the great Canadian tenor Edoardo Di Giovanni. Edoardo Di Giovanni??? Great Canadian Tenor??? Well Signor Di Giovanni began life as Edward Johnson. He was born in Guelph, Ontario and established an international career at a time when having an Italian sounding name gave you more street (or stage) creed – so he became Edward Son of John. He returned to his English name when he sang at the Metropolitan Opera. After his retirement in 1935 he served as General Manager of the great New York company for fifteen years. In 1928 he recorded O Canada and included a second verse that I have to admit I have never seen or heard.
I think this has now become one of my favourite versions of our National Anthem.
On this day in 1745: A New England colonial army captures the French fortifications at Louisbourg.