Howard Frank Fogg is credited with writing the first original composition for a Canadian film. Born at Lewiston, Maine, he later moved to Montréal where he studied the violin with Gustav Haanka.
In the summer of 1915 he enlisted with the 60th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force and arrived in France the following February. Eight months later a severe case of bronchitis removed Fogg from the front. In October 1918 Fogg was promoted to Temporary Lieutenant and returned to the field. Posted to the 87th Battalion, he was pushed to the front where, on November 5, 1918, he was wounded in the right arm—a devastating injury for a violinist. Although Fogg kept his arm, his days as a concert performer were over.
Fogg returned to Canada and studied conducting with Gaston Borsch. During the early 1920s he directed the Montréal musical group The Melody King's Dance Orchestra and recorded Alexandre Luigini's (1850-1096) "Ballet Egyptienne" with them.
In 1925, Fogg joined the musical group The Dumbells as the orchestra's conductor. He wrote numbers for Lucky Seven and also arranged songs for The Dumbells, including Mert Plunkett's composition "Winter Will Come". Fogg continued to conduct The Dumbells and tour Canada and the United States until 1930. During this time he was also musical director of the 17th Duke of York's Royal Canadian Hussars.
Fogg prepared and directed a number of musical broadcasts on CNRM radio and later on the radio of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He was arranger and conductor for the Canadian Victor Talking Machine Company and a pioneer in composition and synchronization for Associated Screen News. In 1934, he wrote the music for the documentary Rhapsody in Two Languages. This work is considered to be the first original composition for a Canadian film.
Howard Frank Fogg died in Montréal on May 17, 1953
©Kevin Joynt, Rare Books Section, Library and Archives Canada
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- Dreamland : a history of early Canadian movies 1895-1939 [film]. Directed by Donald Brittain; produced by Kirwan Cox. Toronto: Great Canadian Moving Picture Company, 1964. 85 min. 50 sec. AMICUS 15394236
- 87th Battalion War Diary. RG 9 III D3 volume 4944. November 1918
- "Fogg, Howard". Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Edited by Helmut Kallmann et al. 2nd ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, c 1992. xxxii, 1524 p. AMICUS 12048560.
- Gordon Sparling fonds. Gordon Sparling interview, 1973. R9162-0-3-E. Library and Archives Canada
- The Montreal Star. May 18, 1953. AMICUS 8405623
- World War One service files. RG 150 1992-93/166. H.F. Fogg