Fonds 49 - Derek Holman fonds

Identity area

Reference code



Derek Holman fonds


  • 1933-2016 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

6 m of textual records and other materials

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Derek Holman was a composer, organist, choir conductor, and professor, born on May 16, 1931 in Illogan, England.

Holman studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Sir William McKie, Eric Thiman, and York Bowen from 1948 to 1952, before becoming an instructor in the Royal Army Educational Corps (1952-1954); master at Westminster Abbey Choir School (1954-1956); assistant organist at St. Paul's cathedral (1956-1958); organist at Croydon Parish Church (1958-1965); and, tutor, subwarden, and warden of the Royal School of Church Music (1956-1965). He also founded the Croydon Bach Society in 1960.

He then immigrated to Canada in 1965, where he was the organist-choirmaster at Grace Church-on-the-Hill (1965-1979), choirmaster at Bishop Strachan School, and professor at the University of Toronto (1967-1996). He also directed the Concord Singers of Toronto (1973-1975) and the Canadian Children's Opera Chorus (1975-1985), and was the organist-choirmaster at the Church of St. Simon the Apostle (1981-1998).

The bulk of Holman's compositions are theatrical and choral music. He frequently collaborated with Robertson Davies, who wrote the libretti for several of Holman's compositions, including Doctor Canon's Cure (1982), which was commissioned by the Canadian Children's Opera Chorus. Among his other commissions are Songs of Darkness and Te Deum, written for the Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir; The Invisible Reality and Tapestry; for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra; Nicholas Knock, The Heart Mislaid, Airs and Echoes upon a ground, and The Death of Orpheus for the Aldeburgh Connection; and many others.

Holman became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Church Music in 1972 and a Member of the Order of Canada in 2002. He was also an associate of the Canadian Music Centre and a member of the Canadian League of Composers. He passed away in Ottawa, Ontario on May 20, 2019.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Donated by Nicholas Holman (A2020-01 and A2023-06). Accessions indicated at the file level.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Fonds consists of the compositions, recordings, and papers of Derek Holman, a former professor at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. The fonds contains manuscript scores and parts by Derek Holman, including original compositions, arrangements and realizations, juvenilia, and sketch materials; audio and video recordings of Holman’s compositions and performances; papers and photographs from Holman’s work with various choirs and churches (including at the University of London, University of Toronto, University of Trinity College, Bishop-Strachan, Royal School of Church Music, St. Simon’s, Concord Singers, Croydon Bach Society, Grace Church-on-the-Hill, and the Canadian Children’s Opera Company); and, Holman’s personal papers, including awards, certificates, degrees, and notebooks.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Fonds is divided into three series: (A) Music scores) ; (B) Recordings ; (C) Personal and professional papers.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Uploaded finding aid

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

Dates of creation revision deletion




Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related places