Kirchner, Leon

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Leon Kirchner (1919 - 2009) was an American composer, pianist and conductor. Born in Brooklyn, NY, to Russian Jewish immigrants, his family moved to Los Angeles when he was nine years old. He studied with Ernst Bloch while attending the University of California at Berkeley. Bloch recommended Kirchner to Arnold Schoenberg, who became Kirchner's primary mentor and influence; he also studied with Roger Sessions. Kirchner was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1948, after which he taught at the University of Southern California until 1954, when he was awarded a professorship at Mills College. In 1961 he was recruited by Harvard University, where he remained until his retirement in 1989. There, he founded and conducted the Harvard Chamber Orchestra, which grew out of a course Kirchner taught combining musical analysis with performance. Kirchner was an annual participant for many years in the Marlboro Music Festival.

Among his works are two piano concertos; three piano sonatas; four string quartets; two trios for piano, violin and cello; an opera, Lily, based on Saul Bellow's Henderson, the Rain King ; and several pieces for orchestra including Music for Orchestra, N.Y. Connotations, Music for Cello and Orchestra, and Music for Flute and Orchestra. Kirchner's String Quartet No. 3 was the first composition with electronics to win the Pulitzer Prize. He continued composing until his death at home in New York City.


Alexander L. Ringer. "Kirchner, Leon." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed October 3, 2011).

Griffiths, Paul and Alison Latham. "Kirchner, Leon." In The Oxford Companion to Music, edited by Alison Latham. Oxford Music Online, (accessed October 3, 2011).

From the guide to the Leon Kirchner papers, 1939-2009, (The New York Public Library. Music Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn The Moldenhauer Archives at Harvard University: Manuscript music compositions, 1880-1985. Houghton Library
referencedIn Fromm Music Foundation scores and recordings, 1943-2011. Houghton Library
referencedIn Jacob Druckman collection of noncommercial sound recordings [sound recording] The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
referencedIn Records, 1962. Houghton Library
creatorOf Leon Kirchner papers, 1939-2009 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
referencedIn The Virgil Thomson Papers, 1804-1990 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library
referencedIn Rudolf Kolisch papers, 1886-1978. Houghton Library
referencedIn The Seymour Shifrin Papers, 1940-1982 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library
referencedIn Randolph S. Rothschild Collection, 1942-1992, (bulk 1973-1985) Library of Congress. Music Division
referencedIn Edward and Clara Steuermann Collection, 1922-1981, (bulk 1930-1980) Library of Congress. Music Division
referencedIn Koussevitzky, Serge, 1874-1951. Serge Koussevitzky Archive, 1920-1976 (bulk: 1924-1951) Library of Congress. Music Division
referencedIn The Moldenhauer Archives at Harvard University: Correspondence, literary manuscripts, sound recordings, and other material, 1873-2001. Houghton Library
referencedIn The Leonard Burkat Papers, 1943-1981 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library
creatorOf Larsen, Eric, 1952-. Faculty trio recital [sound recording]. University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Semans Library
referencedIn Nicolas Slonimsky Collection, 1873-1997, (bulk 1920-1990) Library of Congress. Music Division
referencedIn Harry Levin papers Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adams, John, 1947- person
associatedWith Amram, David person
correspondedWith Artists and Writers for Hughes. corporateBody
associatedWith Associated Music Publishers corporateBody
associatedWith Babbitt, Milton, 1916-2011 person
associatedWith Bellow, Saul person
associatedWith Berger, Arthur, 1912-2003 person
associatedWith Berio, Luciano, 1925-2003 person
associatedWith Bernstein, Leonard, 1918-1990 person
associatedWith Boston Philharmonic Society corporateBody
associatedWith Boston Symphony Orchestra corporateBody
associatedWith Broadcast Music, inc corporateBody
associatedWith Cage, John person
associatedWith Copland, Aaron, 1900-1990 person
associatedWith Del Tredici, David person
associatedWith Druckman, Jacob, 1928-1996 person
associatedWith Eldridge, William person
associatedWith Feldman, Morton, 1926-1987 person
associatedWith Finney, Ross Lee, 1906-1997 person
associatedWith Fromm Music Foundation corporateBody
associatedWith Fromm, Paul, 1906-1987 person
associatedWith Goldman, Richard Franko, 1910-1980 person
associatedWith G. Schirmer, Inc corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard Chamber Orchestra corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University corporateBody
associatedWith Kolisch, Rudolf, 1896-1978 person
correspondedWith Koussevitzky, Serge, 1874-1951 person
associatedWith Laredo, Jaime person
associatedWith Leonard Burkat person
correspondedWith Levin, Harry, 1912-1994 person
associatedWith Lieberson, Peter, 1946-2011 person
associatedWith Ma, Yo-Yo, 1955- person
associatedWith Mercury Music Corp corporateBody
associatedWith Milhaud, Darius, 1892-1974 person
associatedWith Mills College corporateBody
associatedWith Mitropoulos, Dimitri, 1896-1960 person
associatedWith Moldenhauer, Hans person
correspondedWith Moldenhauer, Hans, collector. person
associatedWith Ozawa, Seiji, 1935- person
associatedWith Perlis, Vivian person
associatedWith Rothschild, Randolph S., 1909-2003 person
associatedWith Schoenberg, Arnold, 1874-1951 person
associatedWith Serkin, Peter, 1947- person
associatedWith Sessions, Roger, 1896-1985 person
associatedWith Shifrin, Seymour, 1926-1979 person
associatedWith Slonimsky, Nicolas, 1894-1995 person
associatedWith Spivakovsky, Tossy, 1907-1998 person
associatedWith Steinberg, Russell person
associatedWith Stein, Leonard person
associatedWith Stern, Isaac, 1862-1932 person
correspondedWith Steuermann, Edward person
associatedWith Tcherepnin, Ivan person
associatedWith Thomson, Virgil, 1896- person
associatedWith Trampler, Walter person
associatedWith University of Buffalo corporateBody
associatedWith University of California, 1868-1952 corporateBody
associatedWith University of Chicago corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Conductors (musicians)


Birth 1919-01-24

Death 2009-09-17





Ark ID: w61g836x

SNAC ID: 18984497