Elaine Keillor made her first public appearance as a pianist before her third birthday. At the age of 10, she completed requirements for the associate degree in piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music, the youngest on record for more than six decades.
Before she was a teenager, she had performed concertos with orchestra and was giving full recitals. In her teens, she did a Canadian tour and performed in the United States and Europe.
Keillor launched on more extensive tours, but suffered a hand injury that necessitated limited periods at the piano. She embarked on university studies and became the first woman to graduate with a doctoral degree in musicology from the University of Toronto in 1976.
She joined Carleton in 1977 as music’s first woman professor and discovered she could continue her performance career.
“Music at Carleton was not divided into specific areas, such as musicology, theory, composition and performance,” she says. “Instead we were actively encouraged to participate in all areas in which we were skilled.”
This was an ideal situation for Keillor, who regularly performed new works by composition students and faculty colleagues as she became involved in researching earlier Canadian music.
“Being situated in Canada’s capital, Carleton University is an excellent location to pursue research in all areas of Canadian music, folk, classical, ethnic, Indigenous and popular.”
Keillor was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2016 for her work as a musicologist and historian of Canada’s musical heritage.