Leon Kirchner, classical music composer
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 was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his String Quartet No. 3.
Kirchner was born in Brooklyn, New York. He studied at the University of California, Los Angeles with Ernest Bloch and Arnold Schoenberg. Kirchner began graduate studies with Bloch at the University of California, Berkeley and before completing his degree served in the military and studied with Roger Sessions in New York. He was Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor of Music at Harvard from 1961 to 1991.
While Kirchner lived in California, his piano teacher introduced him to the composer Ernst Toch. Kirchner also took a composition course with Schoenberg at the University of California at Los Angeles. Having won UCLA's highest musical award, the Prix de Paris, he had hoped to study in Europe, but was prevented from doing so by the outbreak of war there, and instead went to New York for private study with Sessions. Kirchner's musical style is generally linear, chromatic, and rhythmically irregular; it is heavily influenced by Schoenberg but does not employ the twelve-tone technique.
Kirchner married Gertrude Schoenberg, a singer, on July 8, 1949; they had one son and one daughter. He died of congestive heart failure at his home on Central Park West in New York City. He was 90.
Kirchner's notable students include Richard Wernick, John Adams, Tõnu Kalam, Lawrence Moss, Allen Shawn, Jonathan Kramer, Faye-Ellen Silverman, Tison Street, Richard St. Clair, Jack Behrens, David Borden, Alan Gilbert, and Curt Cacioppo.
Piano Trio (1954)
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