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, Malcolm’s 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 encyclopedic.
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 Arts Centre in Ottawa in early June.
Malcolm leaves to mourn his wife, Valerie, his daughter Amanda, son-in-law Pinchas Zukerman–semicolon– his brother Donald and sister-in-law Rhona in South Africa and their children.
A memorial celebration of Malcolm Forsyth’s life will take place on August 26, 2:00 pm, in Convocation Hall on the University of Alberta campus. All are welcome. Donations honouring Malcolm may be sent to the Department of Music Fund, Development Office, University of Alberta, 3rd Floor, 10230 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, AB T5J 4P6, Attention: M Diakiw. Please make cheques payable to the University of Alberta, and indicate that the funds are to be deposited to the Department of Music Fund in Memory of Malcolm Forsyth.