Violet Archer - seminal figure in Canadian composition - they even named a band after her.
Violet Archer – seminal figure in Canadian composition – they even named a band after her.

Violet Archer – Prelude and Allegro for Violin and Piano – Arthur LeBlanc, violin – Charles Reiner, Piano – CBC Transcription Service – 1958

The name Violet Archer may not ring a lot of bells with some Classical Music enthusiasts. But she was one of the seminal figures in Contemporary Music in Canada during the 20th century. She studied with Bela Bartok while he was living in New York, as well as studying for two years with Paul Hindemith. Her first work was published in 1946, but she had been composing since she was 16. But after publishing her first work, her output exploded and, during her career completed some 280 compositions.

From 1950-1953 she was composer-in-residence at the University of North Texas. And from 1953-1961 taught at the University of Oklahoma before returning to her native Canada where she joined the faculty at the University of Alberta.

Her music has been described as “on the one hand dissonantly contrapuntal, yet on the other refreshingly folksy”. She is a very popular figure in Canada. So much so, that The Violet Archers, an indie Band from Toronto, have named themselves after her.

As a sample of her chamber work, here is a 1958 CBC Studio session featuring the violinist Arthur LeBlanc and pianist Charles Reiner in her Prelude and Allegro, written in 1954.

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