Rex Battle at the Mount Royal Hotel in 1924

Date: 4 September 2020
Location: Virtual
Category: Virtual content

The following recording is a CKAC aircheck from 1924. In it you can hear the voice of Rex Battle, famed pianist and orchestra conductor, being broadcasted from the Mount Royal Hotel in downtown Montreal. Considering the date of the broadcast, this is the oldest recording of a Canadian radio broadcast that we know of!

The Centennial team would like to thank David Lennick for sharing this recording with us.

Transcription of the recording
CKAC – La Presse, Montreal. This is the Hotel Mount-Royal Concert Orchestra, under the direction of Rex Battle, broadcasting direct from the main dining room of the Mount-Royal Hotel. This is Rex Battle speaking. I’m going to play a piano solo, the Rondo Capriccioso, by Mendelssohn. I am playing this at the request of Mrs. LR Taft of Detroit, Michigan. I understand that the record… the Apex Record Company are going to make a record of this over the air. I wish them good luck!

Who was Rex Battle

Prodigious and acclaimed pianist, organist, composer, conductor, and bandleader, Rex Battle (1895?-1967) began his career in the UK, and reached great popularity in the US and Canada(1)(2).

Some of his career highlights include:

  • [1921] Begins his radio broadcasting career on WWJ Detroit
  • [1922-1929] Was musical director and pianist at the Mount Royal Hotel in Montreal
  • [1929-1938] Conducted the Royal York Hotel Concert Orchestra in Toronto
  • [1934] Forms one of Canada’s first big bands
  • [1943-1956] Becomes music director and conductor of CBC radio’s “Singing Stars of Tomorrow”

 

Source: Discogs

During his time in Montreal, he made several recordings as conductor and pianist for Apex Records. Apex was the “pop” sub-label of Compo Company Ltd., known for issuing records that featured live performances broadcasted over the radio(3).

 

(1) Ruth Pincoe [2007] Rex Battle. Retrieved from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/rex-battle-emc
(2) Clara Thomas Archives, Inventory of the Rex Battle fonds, Fonds level description. Fonds Number F0518. York University. Retrieved from http://archivesfa.library.yorku.ca/fonds/ON00370-f0000518.htm
(3) Edward B. Moogk [2006] Compo Company Ltd. Retrieved from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/compo-company-ltd-emc

Learn more

Explore the original location of the Mount Royal Hotel, featured on both Circuits of our Heritage Trail


Read more about live performances broadcasted during the 1920’s in Montreal by the Centre d'histoire de Montréal (text in French only)


Learn more about the Mount Royal Hotel (text in French only)


Listen to other recordings made by Rex Battle, available on LAC’s Virtual Gramophone