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Alan Belkin: Biography

Alan Belkin
1951 -
Region: Québec

Alan Belkin

Alan Belkin was born in Montréal on July 5, 1951. He studied piano with Philip Cohen, and took private lessons in harmony and counterpoint with Marvin Duchow. Later he studied organ with Bernard Lagacé. His composition training took place at the Juilliard School in New York, to which he commuted for three years while doing his doctorate. At Juilliard, he studied with David Diamond, and then for a short while with Elliott Carter. At Juilliard he earned several scholarships and a composition prize.

Belkin was professor of composition and theory at the Université de Montréal for more than thirty years; he retired in 2015. He is the author of a new textbook on musical composition, which will be published by Yale University Press, in spring 2018.

Belkin has a very active presence on the Internet, through his pedagogical website (alanbelkinmusic.com) and also via the many videos on his YouTube channel, where he appears both as a composer and as a teacher.

Belkin's music is squarely based on the craftsmanship of the European symphonic tradition. He has a preference for large ensembles, and has written eight symphonies for full orchestra. He has also written many chamber and solo works.

Although not tonal in a conventional sense, Belkin's harmonic style is quite rich and accessible. He has a penchant for contrapuntal textures and his orchestration often is multi-layered for richness. He eschews conventional forms, preferring to see each piece as a unique problem in musical flow and contrast. He believes that emotion in music emerges mainly from the way ideas are connected and juxtaposed, and his forms reflect this preoccupation.

Belkin's music has been played in major cities in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and Europe. SOCAN


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