Leon Kirchner

Kirchner, Leon

Leon Kirchner (January 24, 1919 – September 17, 2009) was an American composer of contemporary classical music. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he won a Pulitzer Prize for his String Quartet No. 3.

Kirchner held a Slee Professiorship at the University of Buffalo (succeeding Aaron Copland), and professorships at the University of CaliforniaUniversity of Southern CaliforniaYale University, the Juilliard School of Music, and Mills College, where he was the first Luther Brusie Marchant Professor from 1954 to 1961. In 1961 he moved to Harvard University, where in 1966 he succeeded Walter Piston as Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor of Music and taught until 1989. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1967 for his Quartet No. 3.

According to Alexander Ringer, he “remained consistently individual, unimpressed by changing fashion where ‘idea, the precious ore of art, is lost in the jungle of graphs, prepared tapes, feedbacks and cold stylistic minutiae’.”[13]

Kirchner married Gertrude Schoenberg, a singer and student of Arnold Schoenberg (no relation[14]), on July 8, 1949; they had one son and one daughter.[15] In 2009 he died of congestive heart failure at his home on Central Park West in New York City. He was 90.[16]

Albums Featuring this Artist