She studied in the National Conservatory of Music and Drama of Buenos Aires with the musicians Alberto Ginastera, Gilardo Gilardi, Roberto García Morillo, Floro Ugarte, Pedro Saenz, the poet Pedro Miguel Obligado, where she graduated in piano (1954) and was awarded the First Prize and Gold Medal in composition in Alberto Ginastera´s professorship (1959).
In 1962 she travelled to Europe to study the religious medieval Armenian music from IVth to XIIth centuries with Father Dr. Leoncio Dayan at the Mekhitarist Monastery in Saint Lazaro, Venice. She finished her musical studies of orchestra conducting with Mariano Drago and later on, electronic music.
Her activities as composer, conductor, musicologist and promoter of contemporary music has given her – since her youth – the acknowledge not only in her country but also abroad.
She was the recipient of numerous prizes, among the most important are the Orchestral Composition First Prize by the Municipalidad of Buenos Aires City (1964); ‘Francisco Solano’ Prize for her promotion of the Argentine music (1968), the Outstanding Young Yearly Award by the Junior Chamber of Buenos Aires (1970); National Funds for the Arts for her work Atmósferas and Concert for Violin and Orchestra (1970); the First National Prize of Music for her work Voces (1982); the International Prize Gomidas by the Composers Association of Armenia (1983); the Academic Palms by the Government of France; the Saint Sahak and Saint Mesrop decorations and the Papal Bull by Pope Vazkén Ist of the Armenian Church (1992); the ‘Alberto Castilla’ Medal of Colombia (1994); the Miró-Picasso Medal given by the General Director of the Unesco (1995).
In 2003 she was appointed by unanimity HONORARY MEMBER of the International Music Council during the General Assembly integrated by 100 countries.
Terzian has also developed her activities in the field of superior and university education in the Municipal Conservatory, the National Conservatory of Music (IUNA) in Didactic of Music, Pedagogy, Harmony, Instrumentation, Orchestration and Counterpoint; the Superior School of Fine Arts of the National University of La Plata (History of Music); Superior Institute of Arts of the Colón Opera House ( History of Opera); The History of Music in Argentina in the programme Introduction to the Argentine Culture of the Foreing Affairs Service of the Argentine Republic, and for the National Institute of Public Administration (INASP) of the Government of the Argentine Republic
Her activities as lecturer are also remarkable, which she has developed in Europe, Asia and the Three Americas thanks to her fluency in French, English, Italian, Armenian and Spanish.
Her lectures deal with many different subjects, such as Religious and Folk Armenian Music; The woman in the history of music; Argentine folk and academic music; Contemporary music in Latin America; XXth century music in Argentina and in the world; History of Music in the world and its relation with society, politics, arts and thought.
Due to her deep knowledge about Armenian religious music she was accepted as a member of the International Society of Musicology; she attended the annual meetings in Ljubljana (1967) where she was appointed to integrate the Consultive Committee and, later on, Secretary of the Board of Council of the International Musicology Society.
Some of her works about ‘Armenian religious music and the neumas from the IVth to Xth centuries’ were presented in International fora, for example at the University of Yale (1968) and the Unesco in Paris and were published in prestigious international magazines such as the Chilean Musical Magazine.
In 1968 she created the International Encounters for Contemporary Music Foundation from which she is the Artistic Director. Following Mtro. Ginastera’s advice, she created this institution – that would take the place of the Latin American Centre of High Musical Studies of the Di Tella Institute – for the promotion of the Argentine contemporary music in her country and in the world.
The Festival Encuentros have since then become an important forum for the Latin American contemporary music and, from 1979, the Encuentros Foundation is the Argentine Section of the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM).
As a complement to these annual Festivals, Terzian formed the GRUPO ENCUENTROS in 1979 with the purpose to encourage the knowledge, in Argentina and abroad, of the music written by Argentine and Latin American composers as well as that of the most important composers in the world.
The Grupo Encuentros is the only one in Latin American fully devoted de the XXth and XXIst centuries music and one of the few that realizes an important career with more than 320 concerts performed in the most important festivals in the five continents.
The Grupo Encuentros conducted by Terzian, is integrated by mezzosoprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano and also invites other instrumentalists, actors, mimes and dancers according to the performance of the works.
Since 1979 Alicia Terzian is responsible for the Argentine selection of works to submit to the World Music Days organized by the International Society for Contemporary Music and, in the period 1979-2006, in the selection of works submitted to International Rostrum of Composers organized by the International Music Council, Unesco.
In 1985 Terzian was appointed President of the Argentine Music Council – Unesco- having developed until 2005 an intense national and international activity through Seminars and Congresses with the attendance of the most prestigious musicians, educators, musicologists, instrumentalists, composers, orchestra conductors, soloists and chamber groups thus placing her country in the world.
As orchestra conductor, Terzian was in charge of the ‘Ensemble Casella’ in Torino in the winter of 1987.
In 1990 she was elected by unanimity by her colleagues as the Vice President of the International Music Council, Unesco as well as the Secretary and later on, the President of the Three Americas Music Council COMTA (CIM-UNESCO-Paris), this latest appointment was held until 2004.
In 1979-2006 she was the Delegate before the International Rostrum of Composers (UNESCO-CIM-Paris); Director of the National Fund for the Arts in 1985-1989; Artistic Director of CABLEVISION and the broadcastof the programme ‘Musical Encounters with Alicia Terzian’ every Saturday at 21hs during 2 years, having presented the most important Argentine and foreign artists in concerts; ex Vice President of the Women Internacional Council of UNESCO and currently Honorary Member; Vice Secretary of the Union of Composers of Argentina; Permanent General Secretary of the Argentine Association of Musicology; founder of the Argentine Branch of the International Federation of Musical Youths; founder of the Latin American Council of Music; member of National and Municipal juries of Composition and Musicology Contests; Jury in Argentina for the selection of Works to present in the World Music Days Festival organized by the ISCM (International Society for Contemporary Music) from 1979 until now; Jury of many Contests organized by the Superior National Conservatory of Paris since 1983, International Jury in the Festival of Ibagué, Colombia; International Jury of Composition National Contest in Colombia (1998); Jury of the 2nd Ibero American Prize of Music in Oporto, Portugal (1998); Jury of Sacred Music Contest of Friburg (1995), Jury of Composition in Taiwan (2002), Jury of the International Contest in Orleans (2002,2204, 2006 and 2014).
The Radio Suisse Romande broadcasted in September 2011 a series of one-hour daily auditions from Monday to Fridays devoted to the introduction, analysis and promotion of her works in her creative period 1954-2011.