composer info

ANHALT, Istvan
(b. 1919)

Born in Budapest, his principal teachers of composition were Kodaly and later Nadia Boulanger. In 1949 he arrived in Canada and joined the theory department of music at McGill University. He was appointed head of the music department at Queen's University in 1971. His interest in electronic music and serialism led him to write large works which often have prerecorded segments along with improvisatory sections. He has also explored the different nuances of the human voice.

ARCHER, Violet

A product of McGill University, Archer also studied privately with Bartok in New York and with Hindemith at Yale. After several teaching appointments in the U.S. including North Texas State College, Cornell University and the University of Oklahoma, she returned to Canada to take her doctorate at the University of Toronto in 1961. The following year she joined the University of Alberta and became the chair of the theory and composition department. Archer has worked in most genres including electronic music, orchestral, chamber and opera, and has large catalogue of works which includes the frequently performed Sinfonietta and Divertimento.

(b. 1927)

Beckwith has worn many musical hats: composer, educator, university administrator, writer and broadcaster. Born in Victoria, he moved to Toronto in 1945 to attend the University of Toronto. His teaching career centered there and he became dean of the faculty of music from 1970-1977. His virtually life long creative partnership with author James Reaney has produced several works for speaker/singer and instruments. His orchestral music, particularly Flower Variations and Wheels and Music for Dancing has a direct audience appeal.


A music educator in the public school system, Bissell studied with Karl Off and brought the Orff-Schulewerke method to Canada in the early 60's. His interest in choral music produced many works of a romantic, yet distinctive flavour. His short orchestral pieces continue to be played with regularity, such as the Little Suite for Trumpet and Strings and Under the Apple Boughs for Horn and Strings.


Born in Montreal, Champagne impressed local musicians with his compositional talents enough to form a fund to underwrite his further studies in Europe from 1921 to 1928. .He went first to Brussels, then to Paris where he studied at the Conservatoire with Koechlin and Dukas and then the Schola Cantorum with d'Indy. The French influence is evident in his later orchestral works. On returning to Montreal he taught at a number of music schools as well as McGill. A generation of Canadian composers studied with him, including Archer, Dela, Morel and Turner. His Danse Villageoise is one of the most performed works in the Berandol Rental Library. We have recently published an engraved study score of this work.


The first composer from Canada's west coast to receive national recognition, Coulthard attended the Royal College of Music from 1928 to 1930 where her composition teacher was Vaughan Williams. She became a senior instructor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Her works, while romantic in flavour, have a personal edge. They include A Prayer for Elizabeth written for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and Canadian Fantasy which is an extension of her interest in folksongs.

DELA, Maurice

From Montreal, Dela was first an arranger and composer for the CBC before becoming music director at a local secondary school. He received a CAPAC prize for Petite Suite Maritime in 1947 while his most performed orchestral work is the Scherzo for Orchestra with its rhythmic drive.

DOLIN, Samuel

Born in Montreal, Dolin moved to Toronto for music study, eventually establishing an electronic music studio at the Royal Conservatory of Music. His music went through several styles from the mostly traditional Serenade for Strings to the complex Isometric Variables for Bassoon and Strings.


From Poland, to Medicine Hat to Winnipeg by the age of nine, Freedman entered the Winnipeg School of Art in 1935 to train as a painter. His interest turned to music and after WW II he studied in Toronto with Weinzweig and at Tanglewood with Messiaen. By far his most frequently performed work is Images which is a series of orchestral sound pictures for three Canadian paintings.

HÉTU, Jacques

JACQUES HÉTU, born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, in 1938, is one of the most performed Canadian composers both at home and abroad. From 1956 to 1961, he studied composition with Clermont Pépin at the Conservatoire in Montreal, and from 1961 to 1963 with Henri Dutilleux at the École Normale de Musique in Paris as well as analysis with Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatory. From 1963 to 1977, he taught composition and analysis at the Université Laval in Quebec, then from 1979 to 2000 served as professor of analysis at the Université du Québec à Montréal.

Hétu's catalogue includes five symphonies, concertos for viola, flute, oboe/English horn, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, piano, organ, ondes Martenot, guitar, marimba/vibraphone and a triple concerto for violin, cello and piano. Other orchestral works include Images de la Révolution, Le Tombeau de Nelligan, Variations concertantes and Légendes. Then there are compositions for voice and orchestra like Les Abîmes du rève, the Missa pro trecentesimo anno (written for the tercentenary of the birth of J.S. Bach) and the opera Le Prix. There are also a number of chamber works.

In 1990, Pinchas Zukerman invited the composer to travel with the Ottawa-based National Arts Centre Orchestra on its tour of Germany, Denmark and England. The tour repertory included two works by Hétu, the Third Symphony and Antinomie. In November of that year, Charles Dutoit conducted the New York Philharmonic in Images de la Révolution, which the Montreal Symphony had commissioned on the occasion of the bicentenary of the French Revolution. In May of 1992, Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic gave the American premiere of the Trumpet Concerto with Philip Smith as soloist. Le Tombeau de Nelligan, premiered in Paris by the Orchestra of Radio France, went on tours by both the Montreal and Toronto Symphonies. A recording on the CBC label of music entirely by Jacques Hétu was awarded a Juno for Best Classical Recording of the Year in 2004. This release contains four concertos (for flute, clarinet, bassoon and the second for piano) and features some of Canada's most renowned musicians as soloists, including André Laplante, dedicatee of the Second Piano Concerto.

Lyricism, poetry, emotion and coherent discourse are all important elements in Hétu's writing. He is also sensitive to various aspects of sonority and to the structural rigor of contemporary composition. Within traditional forms, he arranges elements in a cyclical manner based on the affirmative force of thematic material, rigorous writing and the need for unity. In later years, he tended to simplify his language through a broadening of his framework and through developing ever-more lyrical means of expression. His style can best be described as one using neoclassical forms and neo-romantic expression within a musical language of twentieth-century techniques.

Jacques Hétu became a member of the Canadian Royal Society in 1989, an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2001 and Officier de l'Ordre national du Québec in 2007. In 2008, he was inducted into the Panthéon de la musique classique de Trois-Rivières, where a music school bears his name. In January 2010, the Conseil québécois de la musique awarded him the Prix Hommage at the Opus Awards ceremony.

On February 9, 2010, following a battle with cancer, Jacques Hétu passed away at his home in Saint-Hippolyte, near Montreal, surrounded by his family.

(b. 1910)

Joachim fled Germany in 1934 and spent 15 years in the far east, first in Singapore, then Shanghai. He settled in Montreal in 1949. He pioneered electronic music in Canada and many of his compositions have aleatoric sections. A good introduction to his music may be found in Concertante for Percussion and Strings.

MOREL, Francois
(b. 1926)

Morel was the first Montreal composer to receive all his training in Quebec. His music has moved from the French tradition, through Bartok to Varese. Antiphonie is an example of his early style, while Boreal and L'Etoile Noire show a trend towards serialism.


From Montreal, Papineau-Couture studied at the New England Conservatory and Chicago Conservatory College. He returned to Montreal in 1945 and took up teaching. He joined the University of Montreal in 1951 and was dean of the Faculty of Music there from 1968 to 1973. While his music can at times be intellectually challenging, a more direct and sensitive approach may be found in the Violin Concerto and Psalm 150.


Born in Winnipeg, Pentland received her dipl;oma in compositin from Juilliard in 1939. She spent the summers of 1941-42 studying with Copland. Studying in Toronto with Weinzweig, she decided on a serialistic approach to composition, as can be heard in the Webernesque Symphony for ten Parts.

SCHAFER, R. Murray
(b. 1933)

A Sarnia native, Schafer studied at the University of Toronto but became disillusioned with academic life. Originally he thought he would be an artist, a fact that frequently shows up in his scores. He is the most prolific composer in our catalogue and has a strong degree of international recognition. Schafer uses many 20t' century compositional techniques permeated with 19`" century romanticism. He has also composed works specifically for school orchestras (Train; Statement in Blue). His major series of works for theatre (Patria) are divided up into individually performable pieces such as Requiems for the Party Girl.


But for a brief period in Paris studying with Milhaud in 1949, Somers' training was all in Toronto. He avoided teaching, preferring to drive a taxi, be a short order cook or be a music copyist so that he could devote his off hours to composition. His music has been performed around the world and he is one of our most played composers. Somers' music has an immediate emotional appeal, but is highly structured. Three of his signature works
are North Country, Suite for Harp and Chamber Orchestra and Five Songs for Dark Voice.

TURNER, Robert
(b. 1920)

Born in Montreal, Turner studied at McGill, The Royal College of Music in London, with Roy Harris in Tennessee and with Messiaen at Tanglewood. He taught at the University of British Columbia, Acadia University and the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. His belief in that music should have emotional content and be easily accessed by the listener can be heard in Opening Night and A Children's Overture.

WILLAN, Healey

London born and trained in the English choirboy tradition, Willan came to Toronto in 1913 as head of theory at the then Toronto Conservatory of Music. His music is strictly tonal with some modal tendencies. One of our most frequently performed works is his Overture to an Unwritten Comedy, while his opera Deirdre leans more to the influence of Wagner.

close window