The Old Stagecoach is an 1871 painting by American painter Eastman Johnson. Written as The Old Stage Coach or The Old Stage-Coach, the painting is considered one of Johnson's finest and best known works, second only to his Antebellum masterpiece Negro Life at the South. Jennifer Greenhill described the canvas in her book Playing It Straight: "In it, a group of rural children collaborates to make a dilapidated stagecoach burst into action; some serve as passengers, others as horses, still others as guides to the imaginary landscapes of their minds."Johnson painted the canvas at his studio in Nantucket, Massachusetts. It has been described as his most genial work; the Old Stagecoach is in the permanent collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum. In the Spring of 2017 the museum built an exhibition around the painting entitled, "Eastman Johnson and a Nation Divided."
Charles Albert Edward Harriss was an English Canadian composer, educator, organist-choirmaster and conductor. Harriss was born in London, around midnight between 16 and 17 December 1862, he was the son of Edwin Harriss and choir conductor. He studied at St. Michael's College, with Sir Frederick Ouseley. Upon graduation, his first job was that of choir master at St. John's church in Wales. At the age of 18 Harriss was appointed organist in a church in Wales. Through his teacher Ouseley's connections in Canada, after a direct petition from Agnes Macdonald, wife of the Prime Minister of Canada, Sir John Macdonald, Harriss was invited to audition for the job of organist at St. Alban the Martyr in Ottawa, Canada. After moving there in 1882, he became the organist at Christ Church Cathedral in Montreal. In 1886 Harriss succeeded his own father as organist in St. James the Apostle church in Montreal. Harriss composed a number of other choral works, his most famous composition is his opera Torquil, conceived firstly in 1896 as a piano-vocal score subtitled "a Scandinavian dramatic legend", on a text by Edward Oxenford.
Though structurally operatic, the composer warned in the score that it "may be sung by choral societies but must be given without custome or action". Torquil was premiered on 22 May 1900 at Massey Hall, Toronto, by the Boston Festival Orchestra with Harriss conducting. In 1894 Harriss became the founding director of the McGill Conservatorium of Music, supervising 26 music instructors, he continued to compose religious music, including cantatas. Harris organized a series of music festivals throughout Canada. In 1910 he published several patriotic works, he was in charge or bringing the shining stars of the day to his newly adopted country, such as English baritone Charles Santley in 1891 and soprano Emma Albani in 1896. In 1897, Harriss married Ella Beatty-Shoenberger, daughter of John Beatty, M. D. Professor of Sciences in Victoria University, Cobourg and Eleanor Armstrong, she was the widow of the American industrialist George K. Shoenberger, who left her a considerable fortune. In 1900 the couple bought Earnscliffe.
According to Nadia Turbide in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, Harriss was a staunch British imperialist who sought to bring British cultural "standards" to the crown's dominions abroad. Charles A. E. Harriss is sometimes confused with his namesake and fellow composer, Charles Lewis Matthew Harris. Besides the similarity between their first and last names, the confusion is sparked by the fact that the latter was an organist and choir master born in England and who moved to Canada becoming the founder and first director of Hamilton Conservatory. Harriss died in 1929, his papers are on file at the National Library of Canada. Daniel before the King, dramatic cantata, 1884 Torquil, lyric opera, 1894 Festival Mass, 1901 Coronation Mass for Edward VII, 1903 Pan, choric idyll, 1904 The Sands of Dee, ballad, 1904 The Crowning of the King, ode, 1911 The Admiral, comic opera, 1902 Canadian Fantasie, 1904 Biography at Library and Archives Canada