Father Owen Lee

I received the following message from Iain Scott today.  I’m passing it on for anyone who may be interested.

The funeral for Father Owen Lee will take place on this Saturday, 10th August 2019 at 10 a.m. at St Basil’s Church, Bay Street at St Joseph. All lovers of music are encouraged to attend.

Although not a member of the Faculty of Music (he was a Basilian priest, and a member of the Classics Faculty at St Michael’s College) he was perhaps the most best-known and widely read musicologist at the University of Toronto.

In the citation for one of his three honorary degrees it was said that he was “perhaps the most famous faculty member at this University” beloved by an estimated eight million listeners to the Metropolitan radio broadcasts over 23 seasons. He received the University’s “outstanding teacher award”.

A scholarship was endowed in his name at the Faculty of Music, by Paul and Nancy Nickle and is awarded annually to a promising student in the Opera Division.

.His four short books on Wagner have become essential reading for all Wagnerians. His “Wagner, the terrible man and his truthful art” is perhaps the most read introduction to the paradoxes of Wagner’s genius. His book on Wagner’s Ring Cycle “Turning the sky around” continues to be the best-selling introduction to that monumental work, according to Amazon.com and his other two Wagner books, on “Wagner and the Greeks – Athena sings” and on “Die Meistersinger – the wonder of art” are full of similarly succinct and masterly insights.

His thoughts on “Parsifal” were further elaborated in his book on the meaning of Quests (“The olive-tree bed”) which also provided an inspiring Jungian interpretation of the quests of Homer’s Odysseus, Goethe’s Faust, and Virgil’s Aeneas.

His insights into the wider operatic repertoire are contained in five other music books, two of which are particularly recommendable. Father Lee’s compendium of some of his radio scripts “First intermissions – twenty one great operas explained, explored and brought to life from the Met” and his follow-up compendium containing his program notes (for a further 23 operas for a variety of performing companies) “A season of opera – from Orpheus to Ariadne” have greatly expanded our knowledge of the art form.

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