Brian Cherney (b. 1942) studied composition with Samuel Dolin at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto from 1960 until 1963 and later with John Weinzweig at the University of Toronto. He received graduate degrees from the University of Toronto in both composition (Mus.M.'67) and musicology (Ph.D.'74). Since 1972 he has been on the staff of the Faculty of Music (now the Schulich School of Music) at McGill University in Montreal, where he teaches chiefly composition and the history of Canadian music. In 2005 he was the recipient of an Outstanding Teaching Award from the Faculty.
Since 1960 Cherney has written more than one hundred pieces, including concertos for violin (1963), oboe (1989) and piano (1990), chamber concertos for viola (1974) and cello (1991), music for orchestra and much chamber music, as well as for solo instruments and choir. His music has been performed and broadcast throughout Canada and also in Europe, the United States, South America and Japan. He has received commissions from many organizations and performers over the years, including the Stratford Festival, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, La Société de musique contemporaine du Québec, the 1990 New Music America Festival, Le Nouvel ensemble moderne, Amici, the Pierrot Ensemble, The Montreal Symphony Orchestra, L'Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Viva Voce choir of Montreal, the RIAS Kammerchor, Rivka Golani, Robert Aitken, Lawrence Cherney, Antonio Lysy, Vivienne Spiteri, Paul Vaillancourt, Matt Haimovitz, and the Trio Fibonacci.
In 1979, Cherney's String Trio, a CBC commission, tied for first place among the "recommended" works at the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris and his orchestra piece, Into the Distant Stillness…(1984) was also recommended by the Rostrum several years later. In 1985 he was awarded the Jules Léger Prize for New Chamber Music for River of Fire, a work for oboe d'amore and harp.
He is also the author of a monograph on the music of the Canadian composer Harry Somers, commissioned by the Canadian Music Centre and published by the University of Toronto Press in 1975. Recently, he and Toronto composer John Beckwith co-edited a collection of essays on the life and music of Canadian composer John Weinzweig, which was published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press in January 2011. He is currently working on another book on Harry Somers.