Bob working with score maybe

Robert Aitken, touted as one of Canada’s outstanding composers, has been profoundly influenced by the contact with non-Western musical cultures.  He employs poetic and convincing integration of special flute effects  with clarity of formal and rhythmic structure.

NOTE: Listen to works in bold below.  Scores are available through the Canadian Music Centre.

Orchestral Works

  • Rhapsody. 1961. Ms
  • Concerto for Twelve Solo Instruments and Orchestra. 1965 (Toronto 1968). Kerby (Caveat) 1974/B&H
  • Shadows I: Nekuia. 1971 (East Lansing, Michigan, 1971). Orch. (Peer Musik Verlag GMBH)
  • Spectra for Four Chamber Groups. 1968 (Toronto 1969). Ricordi 1973
  • Spiral. 1975. Med orch. (Peer Musik Verlag GMBH)
  • Berceuse (For those who sleep before us). 1992. Flute, orch (Peer Musik Verlag GMBH)
  • Concerto for Flute and String Orchestra (Shadows V). 1999 (Peer Musik Verlag GMBH)
  • Concerto for Flute Orchestra. 2009. 1. Tsunami 2. Solesmes (Peer Musik Verlag GMBH)

Ensembles and Solos

  • Suite. 1960. Vn, piano. Ms
  • Quartet. 1961. Fl, oboe, viola, double-bass. Ms
  • Kebyar. 1971. Fl, clarinet, trombone, 2 double-bass. Editions Salabert 1973
  • Shadows II: Lalitá. 1973. Fl, 3 violoncello, 2 percussion, 2 harp. Editions Salabert 1976. NMC-001 (CD) (NMC)
  • Shadows III: Nira. 1974-6. Vn, fl, oboe, viola, cb, piano, harpsichord. (Peer Musik Verlag GMBH)
  • Icicle. 1977. Solo fl. Edn musicales transatlantiques 1978.
  • Plainsong. 1977. Solo fl. Universal 1980.
  • Folia. 1981. Fl, oboe, clarinet, horn, bsn. (Peer Musik Verlag GMBH)
  • Monodie. 1983. SATB, fl. (Peer Musik Verlag GMBH)
  • Shadows IV: My Song. 1994. 2 flutes [Performers: Wolfgang Wendell/Nari Hong] (Peer Musik Verlag GMBH)
  • Wedding Song. 1999. 2 flutes (Peer Musik Verlag GMBH)
  • Little Ground for Jim. 2010. Fl, ensemble
  • Late Notes from Berlin. 2010. Flute.

Purchase Through

Flute Solo
Series: Music Sales America
Composer: Robert Aitken

$17.00 (US)
HL 14040719
Purchase here
peermusicMy Song: Shadows IV
Series: Peermusic Classical
Composer: Robert Aitken

$39.95 (US)
HL 00229341
Purchase here
Series: Peermusic Classical
Composer: Robert Aitken

$19.95 (US)
HL 00229351
Purchase here
peermusicWedding Song
Series: Peermusic Classical
Composer: Robert Aitken

$9.95 (US)
HL 00229350
Purchase here
Woodwind Quintet Score and Parts
Series: Peermusic Classical
Score & Parts Softcover
Composer: Robert Aitken

$39.95 (US)
Purchase here

Robert Aitken (b. Kentville, N.S., August 28, 1939) began formal composition studies with Barbara Pentland while principal flutist of the Vancouver Symphony (1958-59) and then at the University of Toronto with John Weinzweig for both his Bachelor (1959-61) and Master’s degrees (1961-64).

As the first composition student admitted to the Electronic Music Studio of the University of Toronto, he became familiar with the latest developments in electronic music and composed a number of prominent electronic works.

The first work which established him as a composer in the eyes of the concert public was his Concerto for 12 Soloists and Orchestra. This was performed by the Toronto Symphony, conducted by Seiji Ozawa, in 1968.

Since that time he has completed a number of commissions for such prominent organizations as the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the CBC, the National Youth Orchestra, the York Winds, IRCAM and the Elmer Iscler Singers.

Composition time has been at a great premium due to his career as a flutist and his administrative responsibilities as artistic director of the Advanced Studies in Music Program, Banff Centre (1986-89); New Music Concerts, Toronto (1971-present); Music at Shawnigan (1981-present); and since April 1968, Professor of Flute at the Hochschule for Musik, Freiburg, West Germany. However, composition is still an important activity in his life and each year a period of time is reserved for composing.

Each of Aitken’s works deals with particular questions of colour, space and instrumental technique and the music is an attempt to create a memorable, colourful, sonic solution to these problems. The earliest pieces deal with various 12 tone transformations and the spatial moving of sound. But following Aitken’s five month journey to the Orient, he undertook four works reflecting his musical experiences there. After these four Shadows he returned again to the extra musical challenge of instrumental extension and amplification with his Spiral for orchestra.

Since that time, his music reflects the minimal and harmonic influences of today, mixed with a rhythmic drive from his student years with John Weinzweig and the elaborate melodic structure of numerous Oriental musics.

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