Archer, Violet

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Archer, Violet

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Violet Archer, distinguished composer and teacher, was born Violet Balestreri (Archer is the English translation of the Italian name) in Montreal on April 24, 1913. She studied piano and organ and received a B.Mus. in composition from McGill University in 1936, and studied organ with John Weatherseed at the Royal Canadian College of Organists. Throughout her years in Montreal, Archer was an active soloist, accompanist, and private music teacher as well as a percussionist with the Montreal Women's Symphony under the direction of Ethel Stark. She obtained her B..Mus. and M.Mus degrees in composition from Yale (1948 and '49). Amongst her teachers were Bela Bartok and Paul Hindemith. She was composer-in-residence at North Texas State College (1950-1953), and taught at Cornell University (1952) and the University of Oklahoma (1953-1961) before coming to the University of Alberta (1962-1978). Other professional activities included work on behalf of the Canadian Folk Music Society, the Canadian Association of University Schools of Music, and serving as the Western Canadian representative of the Canadian League of Composers for a number of years. Violet Archer was one of Canada's most significant composers with a catalogue of some 335 works that included compositions for orchestra, choir, organ, and solo piano. Dr. Archer was the recipient of countless honors and awards in recognition of her outstanding achievements. Besides receiving numerous honorary degrees, Archer was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1983; received the Canadian Music Council's Composer of the Year award in 1984; and in 1987 had the Canadian Music Centre Prairie Region library at the University of Calgary named after her. Other honors, among many, included being inducted into the Cultural Hall of Fame in Edmonton, and receiving the Sir Frederick Haultain prize for her contribution to music in 1987. Violet Archer passed away in Ottawa on February 21, 2000 at the age of 86.


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