The Well-Tempered Listener Growing up with Musical Parents

Mary Willan Mason

  • 218 pages • paperback • 6" x 9"
  • ISBN: 978-0-9865-1660-3
  • $24.95 CAN/US
  • 2010
  • Honourable Mention, Heritage Toronto Awards, 2011
  • Outstanding Choral Publication of 2012, Association of Canadian Choral Composers

The author grew up in North Toronto in the 1920s and 1930s, daughter of composer Healey Willan and pianist Gladys ('Nell') Hall. She depicts her parents' marriage, accomplishments, and musical collaboration, their lively household, and events and personalities in Toronto. We see, for example, Mary gently humouring Francis Poulenc at tea, Mary and her mother working with Dora Mavor Moore, and her father and 'Uncle Leo' Stokowski testing acoustics at Varsity Arena.

Mary graduated from University College in the University of Toronto in 1943. She was art, music, and drama critic on the Hamilton Spectator, long-time executive director of the Ontario Choral Federation, and a contributing editor of Antique Showcase Magazine. She is a member of ACTRA and has worked in television and movies.

“A fascinating account of growing up... in pre WW2 Toronto the Good... bring(s) into focus the talents and accomplishmens... of Gladys (Nell) Willan.”

Professor F.R.C. Clarke, author of Healey Willan: Life and Music

“Quite delightful. The author has clearly inherited her father's sauciness.”

R. Scott James, former city archivist, Toronto; archivist, Arts and Letter Club