Remembering Edward Cohen (1940-2002)

The Radius Ensemble presents a special 10th Anniversary Concert in Memory of Edward Cohen, Composer and MIT Senior Lecturer in Music

Edward Cohen, composer, performer, and senior lecturer in music at MIT, died almost ten years ago on April 27, 2002 at the age of 61, but his music lives on.  Thanks to a fund set up by MIT Music and Theater Arts and Cohen’s friends, family, and colleagues, MIT current students and community have opportunities to get to know him through concert performances of his music.

Edward Cohen was a beloved teacher, musician and colleague at MIT from 1977 to 2002.  He loved new music and was inspired by jazz and improvisation.  “For twenty-five years at MIT, Ed oversaw the four-semester beginning music sequence on harmony and composition, sharing with students his love of music that is imaginative and well-made. He brought the same qualities to bear on his own compositions and created music that combines attributes not always typical in modern music: originality, beauty and form. His music is a gift for listeners to cherish,” reminisced Professor of Music Emeritus Ellen T. Harris.

Boston Globe music critic Richard Buell wrote about Cohen’s music that he heard performed at the composer’s 60th birthday concert at MIT: “Forgive the stereotype, but university professors aren’t supposed to compose music like this. The piano quartet was a continuation of Shostakovich’s music; the piano sonata, a big-scaled vigorous enterprise,” “What kind of ‘voice’ is this music? A surprisingly lyric, long-spanned one, striking, obviously ‘modern.’ And all of it built like a steel trap. Gripping music, beautiful performances, a wonderful concert.”

On Saturday, February 18 at 8pm in Killian Hall, the Radius Ensemble, Jennifer Montbach, music director, will present a special Edward Cohen Memorial Concert marking the 10th Anniversary of his death.  The program will feature performances of Cohen’s Clarinet Quintet, Capriccio for solo piano, and the Suite for solo flute.  In addition, the program will include a new work by MIT alumnus Andrew McPherson (2004 Electrical Engineering and Music), specially commissioned for this concert. The piece, After the Rain for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, and percussion, references Ed Cohen’s beautiful “Acid Rain,” both in its title and its percussion instrumentation.  The concert will also feature a piece entitled Echo for piano trio by Cohen’s widow, composer Marjorie Merryman.

The Radius Ensemble performers on this occasion will be Sarah Brady, flute; MIT alumnus Eran Egozy’95 and Rane Moore, clarinet;
 Charles Dimmick and Heidi Braun-Hill, violin; Noriko Herndon, viola; Miriam Bolkosky, cello; Sarah Bob, piano; and Aaron Trant, percussion. Visit Radius at

The concert is free of admission charge and open to the public. A reception will follow.

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