Inventory of the
Rex Battle fonds

Inventory #F0518

The digitization of this finding aid was made possible - in part or entirely - through the Canadian Culture Online Program of Canadian Heritage, the National Archives of Canada and the Canadian Council of Archives.


Fonds/Collection Number:F0518
Title:Rex Battle fonds
Extent:4.5 metres of textual records
Biographical Sketch/
Administrative History:
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.
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 music's 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.

S00524Orchestral scores
S00525Big band arrangements
Custodial History: Transferred by the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music Library to York University Libraries in March and May 2007.
Restrictions on
Access and Use:
No restrictions on access.
Finding Aid: File list available online.
Accruals: The fonds comprises the following accessions: 2007-034. No further accruals are expected.
Provenance Access Points:Battle, Rex, 1895-1967

Date of creation: 2011/07/04
Date of last revision: 2011/09/06
Please select the above links to explore the complete finding aid.
Links to printer and downloading friendly PDF versions of each section of the finding aid appear at the bottom of each page.

Printer friendly version: .pdf
Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader