Vivienne Spiteri | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Vivienne Spiteri

Vivienne Spiteri, harpsichordist, composer, writer, translator (born 1953 in Malta). Vivienne Spiteri specializes in contemporary works for harpsichord, as well as avant-garde compositions and performances of electroacoustic music. She has performed and recorded throughout Canada and around the world. She is a member of SOCAN, the Canadian Electroacoustic Community, and the Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique (SACEM).

Early Years

Spiteri moved to Canada with her family from Malta in 1968. (See Maltese Canadians; Maltese Music in Canada.) She became a Canadian citizen in 1972.


After training in harpsichord performance at the University of Ottawa (BMus, 1976) and McGill University (MMus, 1978), Spiteri studied with Bob Van Asperen at Koninklijk Conservatorium in the Hague, as well as with Colin Tilney. She also took master classes with Luigi Tagliavini, Kenneth Gilbert and Ton Koopman. She studied electronic, electroacoustic, and computer music at the Institut voor Sonologie of the Koninklijk Conservatorium (1989–90) and earned a DEA in music and aesthetics at the University of Paris (1990–91). Also in 1990, Spiteri conducted workshops on the MIDI harpsichord and its repertoire in Stockholm and Paris.

Performances and Compositions

In 1986, Spiteri decided to confine her performances solely to contemporary music. Her debut performance of contemporary works was at the Music Gallery in Toronto. She has since played throughout Canada, as well as in Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, England, France, Poland, Australia, Mexico and her native Malta. She has been broadcast on the CBC and on Swedish, French, Dutch, Portuguese and Australian radio.

She has been committed to developing new repertoire for her instrument, both solo and in combination with traditional, folk, non-western and unconventional instruments. In this vein, she has commissioned works from many composers, including Canadians Tim Brady, Jan Jarvlepp, Hope Lee, Bruce Mather, Bruce Pennycook and Wendy Prezament. Spiteri’s own compositions include anahata, snowSongs, La Maison Tupi, PAA, and brimba.

Spiteri has premiered works at many international festivals and venues and in conjunction with many organizations, including the International Society for Contemporary Music and ACREQ. She has also produced and performed her own interdisciplinary events in Banff, Paris and Amsterdam.


Spiteri has recorded works by Hambraeus, Hope Lee, Saint-Marcoux, and Tim Brady on the CD New Music for Harpsichord from Canada and the Netherlands (1988, SNE 542) and by Jarvlepp on his cassette Chronogrammes (J&W JW-861). She has also produced her own recordings, including New Music for Harpsichord from Canada and the Netherlands, jalsaghar, the desert speaks…comme si l’hydrogène, the door in the wall … instrumentS d’illusion?, and isadora sings. She has written about her intention to use the recording studio as “an instrument” and to use space as “a dynamic device.” She has also spoken of her admiration for the studio work of Glenn Gould — a major influence on her work. Many of Spiteri’s recordings have been included in collections and anthologies in Canada and internationally.


Spiteri contributed as an author to the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada (EMC). Her writing has also been published by Musicworks magazine, the Institute for Canadian Music and Contemporary Music Review.

Organizational Involvement

Vivienne spiteri is a member of SOCAN, the Canadian Electroacoustic Community, the Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique (SACEM), Adami, Spedidam and PAL. Her performance and composing careers have been supported over the years by grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, le Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the French government, Global Affairs Canada, the Banff Centre for the Arts and the SOCAN Foundation.

See also Harpsichord Playing and Teaching; Harpsichord Composition; Harpsichord Making.

Further Reading