Violet Archer

Violet Archer ( Violet Balestreri, born April 24, 1913 in Montreal, Quebec, † February 22, 2000 in Ottawa, Ontario) was a Canadian composer.

Archer came from the Italian immigrant family Balestrieri, which changed its name to Archer. She had as a child piano lessons and studied until 1936 at the McGill Conservatory, after two years at the Royal Canadian College of Organists at John Weatherseed. She was at this time as a piano accompanist and teacher and drummer at the Montreal Women's Symphony Orchestra, Ethel Stark and was from 1939 to 1947 organist at various churches of Montreal.

At the same time she studied composition with Claude Champagne and Douglas Clarke and in 1942 at Béla Bartók in New York. Since 1947, she studied at the Yale School of Music and with Paul Hindemith. Then taught at the McGill Conservatory, was from 1950 to 1953 Composer-in -Residence at North Texas State College and professor of composition at Cornell University and the University of Oklahoma.

A dissertation study, the Archer began in 1961 at the University of Toronto, she dropped out after a year to care for her sick mother. Since 1962 she was a professor of music theory and composition at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. In addition, she was active in the Canadian Folk Music Society, the Canadian Association of University Schools of Music and the Canadian League of Composers. After her retirement in 1978, she still held lectures at the University of Alberta and guest lectures at the University of Saskatchewan (1990) and the University of Alaska (1992). Her pupils included the composer Larry Austin and the cellist Shauna Rolston.

1971 Archer was awarded an honorary doctorate from McGill University, as well as honorary degrees from the University of Windsor and Mount Allison University. In 1983 she was elected Officer of the Order od Canada and 1984 by the Canadian Association of Composers Composer of the Year.

Since the early 1940s, more than two hundred and eighty compositions by Archer, including orchestral works, two operas, two film scores, chamber music and vocal music published.


  • Scherzo Sinfonico, 1940
  • Britannia, a Joyful Overture, 1942
  • Three Scenes for Piano ( Habitant Sketches ), 1946
  • Passacaglia, 1948
  • Fanfare, 1949
  • The Bell for chorus and orchestra, 1949
  • Piano Concerto, 1956
  • String Trio No.. 2, 1961
  • Prelude - Incantation, 1964
  • Cantata Sacra, 1966
  • Haiku
  • Episodes
  • Cantata sacra
  • Sganarelle, comic opera by Molière, 1985
  • The Meal, opera, 1985
  • Evocations, 1987
  • Variations on an Original Theme for Carillon
  • Concerto for Accordion and Orchestra, 1999