John Burke. Photo: A. Czink

John Burke

May 10, 1951 - January 18, 2020



My dear friend Canadian composer John Burke has passed away. I admired the man and his music tremendously. He forged a creative path that was an elegant mixture of art music, sound healing, and "music for use" (Gebrauchsmusik). His amalgamation of the concept of the Hero's Journey with transpersonal psychology made for a powerful musical result. I will also miss sharing Indian curry with beer that was a staple of our dining out when he came to town. John: we will miss your voice, the cadence of your speech, the rhythm of your visits and travels, and we thank you for leaving us with such a beautiful musical legacy. Rest in Peace.
John Oliver

John was an excellent composer whose music had a profound influence on me when I was first learning my craft. His passing is a great loss for Canada and the world.
Andrew MacDonald

I am very sorry to hear the news of John's passing. He was a brilliant composer. Although I only met him on a few occasions, I was very glad to have known him and to have had the chance to spend time with him, to talk about music and to share a few laughs. We had breakfast together in Toronto, John introduced me to "Steak and Eggs" and we talked at great length about our favourite string quartets. Thank you for this website and posting the interview and video.
Michael Oesterle

I am very surprised and saddened by John Burke's death. As a composer I got to know him in the 80's more of his music than personally though we met several times. Back then I was quite taken by his music but over time I lost touch with his career. Interestingly just a few months ago I thought of him only to find he was living just an hour away from me in Kingston. I did think of getting in touch but alas I waited too long. I will miss him, a wonderful composer who maintained a connection to his audience.
Marjan Mozetich

John's demise is hitting me hard. He first showed up at our door literally on a dark and stormy night a little over twenty years ago. He has always been a seeker, and that night he found Nadine and myself, Nadine to share his spiritual search, and myself on a broader artistic search. We were both trying to reinvent our particular domains in art. We did much together, artistically, intellectually, spiritually, and most important, in goofiness. He is dear, dear to me, but I hope his leagacy lives on. One particular event stands out, the performance and recording of the Labyrinth music at the CBC building in Vancouver on a snowbound night, the studio had been laid out with a labyrinth, which the audience was invited to walk; it was an evening of unparalled intimacy and profoundity, for me the highlight of his life. We all came away from that night uncommonly moved, I come away from his life the same way
Frank Eric Zeidler

i am so very sorry to hear about the loss of john burke. please accept warmest condolences from a colleague of his. we'd spoken about working together but by that time his interests were takiing a different route. if it were today, we'd both be on the same path. too late for me. my loss!
vivienne spiteri

Still remember vividly how moved I was listening to John's Remember Your Power in Vancouver. Thank you for all the beautiful and inspiring music you composed.
Hope Lee

John had spent a week here in Magog with us last spring. He was a wonderful conversationalist and raconteur: knowledgeable on many subjects, eloquent, sharp-witted, funny, and wise. I have been in a strange state of shock since learning of his passing. I had been looking forward to a visit from him, and, his always-honest and insightful critique of a recently-finished composition of mine. I shall now have to imagine what he might have said.... A composer with a delicate and searching ear, a person with a kind heart and deep soul: John shall certainly be missed.
Philip Goodall

John was my husband for many years , and I am shocked and extremely saddened by his unexpected death. John and I shared a strong connection with the Buddhist path, and shared many wonderful and special experiences in our time together. He had a profound sense of the sacred which he communicated thru his exquisite music, and yet he had the touch of the common man, funny and irreverent. I will always love him and thank him for what he gave to me and to the music world.
Norma Kavanagh

More information about the activities and projects of John Burke can be found at

Visit the Canadian Music Centre to read their tribute to John Burke and to obtain information about performing his music.

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Site updated 2020-07-13