Ashkan Behzadi

College Faculty:
Composition Course Faculty: Advanced Orchestration
Contemporary Performance Program: Survey of Contemporary Music

College Faculty: Composition Course Faculty: Advanced Orchestration; Contemporary Performance Program: Survey of Contemporary Music


Ashkan Behzadi, a 2021-2022 Guggenheim Fellow in Music Composition, is an Iranian-Canadian composer. He earned his DMA in composition at Columbia University where he studied with Fred Lerdahl, George Lewis, and Georg Friedrich Haas. Prior to this, he graduated from McGill University where he finished his bachelor’s degree in composition and music theory. At McGill, he studied composition with Chris Paul Harman, Brian Cherney, and Philippe Leroux. Ashkan also has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Tehran University, where at the same time, he took composition and music theory lessons with Alireza Mashayekhi.

Ashkan’s music has been commissioned and performed by various international performers and ensembles, including TAK Ensemble, Oerknal Ensemble, JACK Quartet, Divertimento Ensemble, Ensemble Alternance, Ensemble UnitedBerlin, Exaudi, Yarn/Wire, Ekmeles, Wet Ink, Talea Ensemble, and le Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (NEM) and his work is recognized by artist residencies and festivals such as MacDowell Fellowship, Civitella Ranieri, Divertimento Ensemble Composers Meeting, Dialoge Festival at Stiftung Mozarteum Salzburg, Rondo 2017, Manifeste Festival at IRCAM, and CIRMMT new music series. His music also has won numerous commission awards and competitions such as Koussevitzky Foundation Commission award, Fromm Foundation Commission award, Graham Sommer Second Prize, the Prix de Composition at Fontainebleau.

For the 2019–2020 academic year, Ashkan Behzadi has joined the Department of Music of the University of Chicago as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Center for Contemporary Composition. He currently resides in Brooklyn and teaches at Columbia University as a Lecturer in Discipline in Music. In September 2023, Ashkan will join Manhattan School of Music as a faculty in Music Composition.

The issue of genre-identity or genre-blurring, and the dialectical relationship between modernist lyric poetry and contemporary music have formed the core of Ashkan’s aesthetic concerns in the last few years. Structurally, by demonstrating great attention to details, his music conveys a miniaturist and gentle lyrical landscape, in which, by employing the techniques of allusion and pastiche as the bases of his craft, his music ultimately aims to invoke the collective-memory of folklore music.


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