(b.1942, Canada)

Canadian composer Brian Cherney studied composition with Samuel Dolin at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. He received graduate degrees from the University of Toronto in both composition and musicology.

Since 1960, Cherney has written more than ninety pieces, including orchestral music, concertos, chamber music and music for solo instruments. His music has been performed and broadcast throughout Canada and also in Europe, the United States, South America and Japan. 

Many of Cherney’s works have been published by the Québec publisher Éditions Doberman-Yppan. He is also the author of a monograph on the music of Harry Somers, commissioned by the Canadian Music Centre and published by the University of Toronto Press in 1975. In April of 2006, he was the Michael and Sonja Koerner Distinguished Visitor in Composition at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, at which time a work especially commissioned for the occasion, Quelques espaces entre les anges et la terre for Wind Ensemble and Percussion, was premiered.

Since 1972 he has been on the staff of the Faculty of Music (now the Schulich School of Music) at McGill University in Montreal, where he teaches composition. From 2002 to 2005 he was Chair of the Department of Theory.

Artist Compositions


Premiere Title of Commission Listen
11/06/2007 An Unfinished Life Listen Close

Etty Hillesum was twenty-nine when she died at Auschwitz on November 30, 1943. 'An Unfinished Life' is based on the diaries that this young Dutch Jewish woman kept from March 1941 to October 1942. Cherney transformed several brief passages of Hillesum’s own writing, including several prayers, into a form of verse, and set these for the voices.