Glenn Buhr: Concert Music for Classical Ensembles

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Works (Click on any blue title to listen to or view the work.)



When I was a child, I took piano lessons and learned some music by Mozart and Scarlatti without coming to an understanding about what classical music really is. I started lessons when I was seven years old, but disliking the practicing is the only thing that I remember about that. As a classical pianist, I had some minor abilities and not much promise, but I had very good grades in music theory.

I often improvised at the piano. It’s what I liked to do the most when I played. My teacher and my parents never discouraged the improvisation, and that openness changed my life. I became obsessed with making music up and not just playing notes that other composers wrote. The improvising soon led me to start writing music, though by the time I was 16, my favourite composer was Neil Young, not Mozart or Scarlatti, and my favourite pianist was a jazz musician - Bill Evans - not Glenn Gould or Martha Argerich. I was listening to a lot of composed contemporary music on the radio too, so my early compositions were eclectic mash-ups gleaned from a motley collection of musical influences.

After graduating from university in 1984, the Toronto Symphony and their conductor, Sir Andrew Davis, began to champion my music. That led to performances by other major ensembles and soloists: the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, pianist Louis Lortie, harpist Judy Loman, among others. A long list of wonderful performers started playing my music and asking me to write more. Then, in 1990, I became Composer-in-Residence with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and developed their New Music Festival with conductor Bramwell Tovey. So, for a while there, from about 1982 until 1998, I generally put my improvisation and songwriting roots behind me and became exclusively a composer of concert music for classical ensembles.

      Glenn Buhr, August 2020

Study scores and performance materials for Glenn Buhr's works are available at Counterpoint Library Musical Services: