Laurie Matthew Duncan | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Laurie Matthew Duncan

Laurie Matthew Duncan. Pianist, composer, teacher, b Winnipeg 16 Sep 1956, ARCM (London) 1974, B MUS (Manitoba) 1978, Artist Diploma in Piano Performance (London, Ont) 1980, M MUS (Brandon) 1985.

Duncan, Laurie Matthew

Laurie Matthew Duncan. Pianist, composer, teacher, b Winnipeg 16 Sep 1956, ARCM (London) 1974, B MUS (Manitoba) 1978, Artist Diploma in Piano Performance (London, Ont) 1980, M MUS (Brandon) 1985.

Duncan began his musical studies in Winnipeg in the mid-1960s. He studied cello and theory with Peggie Sampson, Klara Belkin and Carolyn Riccardo. He later studied piano with William Aide, Leonard Isaacs, Boyd McDonald, Marek Jablonski, Ronald Turini and Lorne Watson, and in London with Phyllis Sellick. Duncan also studied at the Banff School of Fine Arts 1985-6, and studied composition with Robert Turner and Justin Connelly.

Performing Career

Duncan became known as a solo pianist and accompanist of uncommon ability. He began his performing career in 1975. In 1977, he undertook the Young Artists Series Tour involving 13 recitals throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. In 1979, he performed the complete Goldberg Variations. In 1980, he performed Beethoven's 33 Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli. The same year, he gave a performance at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in collaboration with CBC Radio's Arts Encounter, which included works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, and Eckhardt-Gramatté. He gave a "bravura performance of the highest quality" of Eckhardt-Gramatté's work, showing "how well he is tuned to this music ... in his hands it was a masterpiece" (Winnipeg Free Press). In 1990, Duncan performed all 43 of the Haydn sonatas during an eight-concert series at the University of Manitoba. He has also performed Book One of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, as well as works by Schoenberg and Hindemith. In 1986, he toured with a piano trio in West Germany, France, Switzerland and the US.

Teaching Career

Duncan was a teaching assistant at the University of Western Ontario 1979-82. In 1987, he taught at the University of Manitoba and the Manitoba Conservatory of Music and Arts. In 1989-90, he was music master at St John's Ravenscourt School in Winnipeg, and in 1991 he taught musicianship and composition again at the University of Manitoba.


Duncan has composed a number of chamber works, including the song cycles A Dream Within a Dream (1988, based on the poems of Edgar Allen Poe), and Songs of the Chinese (1995, based on translated ancient poems). His instrumental compositions include Melode (1990) for cello and piano, Sonata for Flute and Piano (1994) and Nocturne for Piano (1996). His larger works include Fantasia for Piano and Strings (1989); Fanfare for Orchestra (1991); Cantus Elegiacus for Strings (1993, broadcast on CBC's Mostly Music 21 June 1995); and the chamber opera The Fall of the House of Usher (2001, based on the story by Poe).

Awards and Competitions

In 1977, Duncan was awarded first place at the interprovincial auditions of the Young Artists Series sponsored by the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers' Associations in Saskatoon.

See also Chester Duncan (his father).

Further Reading

Donate to The Canadian Encyclopedia this Giving Tuesday!

A donation to The Canadian Encyclopedia today will have an even greater impact due to a generous matching gift from an anonymous donor. Starting November 28 until December 5, 2023, all donations will be matched up to $10,000! All donations above $3 will receive a tax receipt. Thank you for your support of The Canadian Encyclopedia, a project of Historica Canada.