Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Barbara L. Pentland (1912-2000)


Born at Winnipeg in 1912, daughter of C. F. Pentland, she became one of Canada’s most distinguished composers. She began to compose at the age of 9. She studied piano with Eva Clare, organ with Hugh Bancroft, and composition with Frederick Blair in Montréal and Cécile Gauthiez in Paris. In 1936 she was awarded a scholarship to New York’s famed Juilliard School, where she remained until 1939, afterwards studying with Aaron Copland.

From 1943 to 1949 she taught at the Toronto Conservatory, where her students included George Crumb, one of America’s most distinguished composers. In 1949 she was invited to join the faculty of the newly founded Music Department at the University of British Columbia. She married John Huberman, son of the famous violinist Bronislav Huberman. She resigned from the University in 1963 and thereafter devoted herself to composition, producing an extensive list of works. She was a committed modernist, writing in a contemporary avant garde style, which many still consider to be difficult. In later life the University of Manitoba awarded her an honorary doctorate (1976) and she was named a member of the Order of Canada.

She died in Vancouver in 2000. However, her compositional voice had been stilled a decade earlier by the onset of Alzheimer’s.

More information:

Barbara Pentland by Sheila Eastman & Timothy J McGee, University of Toronto Press, 1983.


This profile was prepared by Keith Davies Jones.

Page revised: 11 July 2009

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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