Malcolm Forsyth
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FORSYTH, Malcolm Denis
December 8, 1936 July 5, 2011
The family and friends of Dr. Malcolm Denis
Forsyth sadly announce his passing on July 5,
2011 after an heroic battle with cancer.
Dr. Forsyth was formidable in many regards.
As a trombonist, he had all the brashness of a
brass player. He was a stickler for getting
things right and would settle for nothing less
than a class one performance. As a composer,
he pushed all the instruments of the
orchestra to their limits. He was unique in
blending rhythms of his homeland, South
Africa, with the more conventional rhythms of
classical music. As a teacher, he would accept
no second class work. His students could slip
nothing past him. Many students described
him as the most influential on their musical
career. As a friend, he was often a challenge,
never letting go a casual statement that was
ill-thought out. He loved to debate and loved
to win. He loved a crowd, and he loved the
stage, and when he walked into a room, the
room became full. He loved to tell stories and
make people laugh.
Malcolm loved the people in his life, above all,
his daughter, Amanda, his wife Valerie, and
his poodle, Keats. He wrote several works for
Amanda, an internationally acclaimed cellist,
and they often appeared on stage together.
Apart from his music, Malcolms list of
interests was endless: poetry, history,
religion, politics, woodworking, water colours,
languages, and travel. He was a voracious
reader - in his areas of knowledge, he was
He was a Professor of Music at the University
of Alberta for 34 years and was Composer-In-
Residence at the time of his retirement in
2002. Among his many awards were three
Junos for his compositions, Canadian
Composer of the Year in 1989 and was
awarded the Order of Canada in 2003.
Malcolm was diagnosed with cancer last
September and underwent several
chemotherapy treatments. Although severely
weakened, he was able to attend the premiere
of his latest work, A Ballad of Canada, at the
National Art Centre in Ottawa in early June.
Malcolm leaves to mourn his wife, Valerie, his
daughter Amanda, son-in-law Pinchas
Zukerman; his brother Donald and sister-in-
law Rhona in South Africa and their children.
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Published in Edmonton Journal on Jul. 8, 2011.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
15 entries
August 24, 2011
A great man who will be sorely missed. Thank you for everything, Dr. Forsyth.
Andrew Wan
August 21, 2011
Raydene Koch
August 8, 2011
Malcolm was a pleasure to be with. I knew him through the editing room, working on a promotional piece he was doing when he was about to retire from the U of A. Then I was honoured to work on the film, AMANDA RISING, the biography done on daughter Amanda Forsyth. His music permeated the piece and was extremely gratifying to work with. Further, when we would enjoy meals at Terri & Ken's on occasion, or a coffee & chat at a cafe, he was down-to-earth and a funny guy (humour-wise). I applaud his life, his love, and his works. Play on, Malcolm!
marke slipp
July 22, 2011
Although he was also a colleague at the University of Alberta, I will always remember Malcolm as a wonderful patient and friendly neighbour. I fondly recall a story he told me of how he had the lights dimmed at the Winspear one evening when he was conducting, since he had seen me earlier in the day (and had his eyes dilated). My family and I will really miss seeing him and Keats on our evening walks in the grassy park overlooking the ravine and the downtown skyline. I wish he could have heard my daughter develop her cello skills. Sincerest condolences to Amanda, Valerie, and his family.
Stanley Chan
July 15, 2011
Rest in Peace. You will always be with us with your music.
mialtin Z
July 15, 2011
Dear Amanda, our deepest condolences on the passing of your father. No words can help, only the knowledge that time will heal the wounds...
Fern Turpin
July 11, 2011
Val, I send my sincere sympathy to you as well as Malcolm's daughter Amanda, and your entire family. I never had the pleasure of meeting Malcolm, however I know what a loving, giving person you are, and my heart breaks for you. I send you my thoughts, prayers and love.
Deb Robertson (Smigelski)
July 10, 2011
Dear Amanda and Valerie,

Words fail in describing the sense of loss and sadness at your dear father and husband's passing. I had the great good fortune as one of Malcolm's colleagues at U of A to get to know him very well and gain so much from our friendship. I respected him and his mentorship as a musician, academic and especially as a genuine friend over the years, and it was a huge privilege for me to have a part in premiering some of his choral works and collaborating with him on performances of choral pieces he conducted with U of A orchestra and choruses. Not to mention the great parties, good wine and scotch, his raucous laughter, his love of language and ideas, and most of all his generosity of spirit. As a composer, Dr. Forsyth's contributions to our musical culture in Canada have deeply enriched all who had the privilege of performing and hearing his music.

Rest well, Malcolm, a life well lived!
Leonard Ratzlaff
July 10, 2011
Malcolm has been part of my life since the first day of my undergrad study at UofA. He gave me one of my first BIG lessons of my career, and became a fast friend to me and my family. He cannot be replaced! And we'll help him live on. To you, dear Amanda and your family, we send many thoughts and strength, and friendship.
Lisa Nelsen
July 10, 2011
We lose a remarkable man. Rest in peace, Malcolm.
My condolences, Amanda.
Victor Pipkin
July 9, 2011
Malcolm was a rare man, a genuine person. I'll always remember him as a uniquely thoughtful fellow who if he had anything good to say about you, you knew he really meant it. My condolences Amanda.
Bill Rankin
July 9, 2011
I met Mr. Malcolm at Bistro Praha,he was always very gregarious,well known, respected gentlmen.All of us from Bistro Praha send deepest sympathy to his beautiful daughter Amanda and his wife Valerie. We are really sorry for your loss.:( Much love,effectionately
Sharka xo
sharka svajgr
July 9, 2011
Often remember Malcolm as a neighbour in Belgravia. So sorry for your loss Amanda
July 8, 2011
DR Ted Aaron-I will never forget Malcom I looked after his allergy problems.His visits were enriched by conversation about South Africa were my father had lived and so did his siter who lived on the Rand.I have a cousin who is married to Ivor Haarberger -head of Gallo records - wonderful native singers and also Paul Simon and Graceland I will never forget Malcoms visits and also his stops at our winspear seats to say hello after his deserved applause for his music
Dr ted Aaron
July 8, 2011
I first met you in the UofA entrance auditions and you were formidable...but then seeing you almost every weekday of my undergrad B.Mus in rehearsals, St. Cecelia orch, concerts, orchestration, comp, history classes - at the Rolstons house - in the "zoo" I learned to admire and respect and befriend you. Every encounter after my degree was finished you always gave me a big warm enveloping hug and enthusiastic greeting. It is both with mixed sadness and deep appreciation and profound thanks I say thanks for giving me so much in music - in life - in fantastic rhythms - in your compositions - in friendship.
Cherie Larson
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