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COMPOSER SHOWCASE

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.

He is currently a professor of composition and theory at the Université de Montréal. He has published articles in the Computer Music Journal, the Journal of the Canadian University Music Society, and Musicworks.

Belkin's work 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 a variety of chamber music.

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. His works have been heard frequently on CBC, and one movement of his Night Labyrinth has been recorded on CD by the Université de Montréal.

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