Leon Kirchner

Biography

Born: January 24, 1919; Brooklyn, NY   Died: September 17, 2009; Manhattan, NY  
A dominant figure in American music throughout most of the twentieth century, composer Leon Kirchner (b. 1919) wrote a large quantity of music which, although stylistically tied to the work of Arnold Schoenberg and the Second Viennese School, remains powerfully individual in expression, and free of the systematic use of 12-tone techniques. In addition, he proved himself to be a formidable pianist, and a skilled conductor of his own works and the Read more established classics.

Born in Brooklyn, Kirchner received most of his musical education in southern California. Piano lessons began at the age of four, and Kirchner's early compositions, written in his teens, gained the notice of composer Ernst Toch at Los Angeles City College (where Kirchner was studying at the time), who recommended that Kirchner study with Schoenberg at the University of California Los Angeles. After taking a BA from the University in 1940 Kirchner began graduate work with Ernst Bloch at Berkeley, though a period of study in New York with Roger Sessions during 1942, and three years of military service would postpone the completion of a master's degree until 1949.

He had already been awarded, in 1948, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and in 1949 he was honored by that foundation a second time. During the early 1950s, Kirchner served on the faculty of the University of Southern California Los Angeles, after which in 1954, he accepted an appointment with Mills College in Oakland. He joined Harvard University in 1961, eventually succeeding Walter Piston as the Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor of Music. In addition to his activities as a composer, Kirchner was active as a conductor and pianist at Harvard, as well as with numerous professional orchestras, until his retirement in 1989. He received many awards and honors throughout his long career, including two New York Music Critics Circle Awards (for his first two string quartets, in 1950 and 1960, respectively), the 1967 Pulitzer Prize for his Third String Quartet, and, in 1994, the Kennedy Center Friedham Award. Since the 1960s, and through the 1990s, he was a member of both the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Despite the wide variety of influences Kirchner was exposed to during his student years -- or perhaps because of it -- his music is consistently original in both content and language. His music is very chromatic, usually in a linear fashion, while a love of irregular rhythm adds a piquant metric flavor to his work. The intervallic content of Kirchner's language and the manner in which intervallic/harmonic units are employed throughout a given work bespeak the influence of Schoenberg, though Kirchner has never been a strictly serial composer in any sense of the word. His consummate craftsmanship is most apparent in the three string quartets. Kirchner remained active during the 1990s, the Music for Cello and Orchestra, premiered by Yo-Yo Ma and the Philadelphia Orchestra, being perhaps the most famous work composed in that decade. Read less
Kirchner: Chamber Music / Continuum
Release Date: 04/19/2005   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559195   Number of Discs: 1
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American Fantasies - Schoenberg, Cage, Schuller, Harris, Kirchner, Etc / Borup, Ernst
Release Date: 05/27/2008   Label: Centaur Records  
Catalog: 2918   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 1-25 of 26 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Peter Serkin: Complete RCA Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 19439713872 Release Date: 06/19/2020   Number of Discs: 35
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Franz Schubert,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ferruccio Busoni  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Serkin,  Ruth Laredo,  Rudolf Serkin,  Mieczyslaw Horszowski  ... 
    Conductor:  Alexander Schneider,  Seiji Ozawa,  Tadaaki Otaka,  Claudio Abbado  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Fromm Music Foundation: 20th-Century Composer Series
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 19439715642 Release Date: 05/15/2020   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Leon Kirchner,  Wilhelm Killmayer,  Lou Harrison,  Benjamin Lees  ... 
    Performer:  Leon Kirchner,  Nathan Rubin,  George Neikrug,  Ludwig Shapero  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Concert Choir,  New York Concert Orchestra,  Juilliard String Quartet  ... 
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  • 3.
    Bernstein: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Suite, Slava!, CBS Music & A Bernstein Birthday Bouquet / Alsop, Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559813 Release Date: 10/12/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leonard Bernstein,  Luciano Berio,  Leon Kirchner,  Jacob Druckman  ... 
    Conductor:  Marin Alsop
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Săo Paulo Symphony Orchestra
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  • 4.
    Into the Light / Telegraph Quartet
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 3651 Release Date: 09/07/2018   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leon Kirchner,  Anton Webern,  Benjamin Britten
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Telegraph Quartet
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  • 5.
    Bernstein: Marin Alsop's Complete Naxos Recordings
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8508018 Release Date: 02/09/2018   Number of Discs: 9
    Composer:  Leonard Bernstein,  Luciano Berio,  Leon Kirchner,  Jacob Druckman  ... 
    Performer:  Jean-Yves Thibaudet,  Paulo Mestre,  Kelley Nassief,  Timothy Walden  ... 
    Conductor:  Marin Alsop
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Baltimore Symphony Orchestra,  Săo Paulo Symphony Orchestra,  Sao Paulo Symphony Choir  ... 
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  • 6.
    Leon Fleisher:  All The Things You Are
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9429 Release Date: 07/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Leon Kirchner,  Earl Wild,  George Perle  ... 
    Performer:  Leon Fleisher
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  • 7.
    Howard Karp: Concert Recordings (1962-2007)
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1492 Release Date: 05/20/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Franz Liszt,  Leon Kirchner,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Howard Karp
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  • 8.
    Leon Kirchner: Revelations
    Label: Verdant World Records   Catalog: 5638082066 Release Date: 01/24/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leon Kirchner
    Performer:  Joel Fan,  Daniel Neer,  Kelvin Chan,  Melissa Kelley  ... 
    Conductor:  Scott Dunn
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  • 9.
    Young-ah Tak Plays Haydn, Schumann, Liszt & Kirchner
    Label: Msr   Catalog: 1375 Release Date: 03/13/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn,  Robert Schumann,  Franz Liszt,  Leon Kirchner
    Performer:  Young-Ah Tak
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  • 10.
    Made In America / Yo-Yo Ma
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 756034 Release Date: 07/12/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leonard Bernstein,  George Gershwin,  Charles Ives,  Leon Kirchner
    Performer:  Yo-Yo Ma,  Jeffrey Kahane,  Ronan Lefkowitz,  Gilbert Kalish  ... 
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  • 11.
    Leon Kirchner: Orchestral Works / Kirchner, Mitropoulos, Hoagland
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1275 Release Date: 06/14/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leon Kirchner
    Performer:  Diana Hoagland,  Leon Kirchner
    Conductor:  Leon Kirchner,  Dimitri Mitropoulos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Former Harvard Chamber Orchestra,  Columbia Chamber Ensemble,  New York Philharmonic Society Orchestra
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  • 12.
    Something To Sing About
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1268 Release Date: 05/10/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Charles Ives,  Paul Chihara,  John Corigliano,  Stanley Silverman  ... 
    Performer:  Lisa Kirchner,  Joel Fan,  William Schimmel,  Dwayne Burno  ... 
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  • 13.
    Label: Composers Recordings, Inc. (Cri)   Catalog: 461 Release Date: 04/01/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leon Kirchner,  Seymour Shifrin,  Milton Babbitt,  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Robert Taub
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  • 14.
    The Viennese School: Teachers & Followers Of Schoenberg, Vol. 2
    Label: Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm)   Catalog: 6131434 Release Date: 01/25/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg,  Natalia Prawossudowitsch,  Peter Schacht,  Nikos Skalkottas  ... 
    Performer:  Steffen Schleiermacher
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  • 15.
    ...In Real Time - Berio, Goehr, Henze, Et Al / Peter Serkin
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 68189 Release Date: 08/13/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leon Kirchner,  Peter Lieberson,  Toru Takemitsu,  Luciano Berio  ... 
    Performer:  Peter Serkin
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  • 16.
    Concert - Chamber Music Of Leon Kirchner
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1177 Release Date: 03/09/2010   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leon Kirchner
    Performer:  Jules Eskin,  Malcom Lowe,  Gilbert Kalish,  Corey Cerovsek  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio
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  • 17.
    Kirchner: Complete String Quartets / Orion String Quartet
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1030 Release Date: 06/17/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leon Kirchner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orion String Quartet
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  • 18.
    American Fantasies - Schoenberg, Cage, Schuller, Harris, Kirchner, Etc / Borup, Ernst
    Label: Centaur Records   Catalog: 2918 Release Date: 05/27/2008   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg,  John Cage,  Gunther Schuller,  Donald Harris  ... 
    Performer:  Mary Kathleen Ernst,  Hasse Borup
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  • 19.
    Leon Kirchner: Works For Solo Piano / Jeremy Denk, Et Al
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 906 Release Date: 03/13/2007   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leon Kirchner
    Performer:  Leon Fleisher,  Peter Serkin,  Max Levinson,  Jonathan Biss  ... 
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  • 20.
    Duos From Marlboro - Schubert, Prokofiev / Serkin, Et Al
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9203 Release Date: 07/18/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Leon Kirchner
    Performer:  Paula Robison,  Rudolf Serkin,  Daniel Phillips,  Peter Zazofsky  ... 
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  • 21.
    Kirchner: Chamber Music / Continuum
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8559195 Release Date: 04/19/2005   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leon Kirchner
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Continuum
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  • 22.
    American Piano Music Of The 1940s / Sara Laimon
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 685 Release Date: 08/31/2004   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leon Kirchner,  Carl Ruggles,  Leonard Bernstein,  Elliott Carter  ... 
    Performer:  Sara Laimon
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  • 23.
    Harvard Composers / Sheldon, Mendelssohn String Quartet
    Label: Bis   Catalog: 1264 Release Date: 09/30/2003   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Mario Davidovsky,  Bernard Rands,  Earl Kim,  Leon Kirchner  ... 
    Performer:  Lucy Sheldon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Mendelssohn String Quartet
    SuperAudio CD: $19.99
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  • 24.
    In Honor Of His 80th Birthday - Kirchner - Works 1948-1973
    Label: Music & Arts Programs Of America   Catalog: 1045 Release Date: 07/20/1999   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Leon Kirchner
    Performer:  Leon Fleisher,  Diana Hoagland,  George Neikrug,  Nathan Rubin  ... 
    Conductor:  Dimitri Mitropoulos
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Columbia Chamber Ensemble,  Beaux Arts Quartet,  Lenox String Quartet  ... 
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  • 25.
    Café Music - Schoenfield, Copland, Et Al / The Samaris Trio
    Label: Newport Classic   Catalog: 85642 Release Date: 03/23/1999   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Leon Kirchner,  Aaron Copland,  David Nathaniel Baker,  Paul Schoenfield
    Performer:  Sylvia Wang,  Bryan Dumm,  Molly Fung
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Samaris Piano Trio
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