About Leon Kirchner
Leon Kirchner, the American composer, conductor, and pianist, was born in Brooklyn in 1919. He grew up in Los Angeles and went on to study at UCLA with Arnold Schoenberg and Ernest Bloch. Stylistically, he is often grouped with composers like Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg. However, he chose not to rigidly employ their techniques of 12-tone and serialist composing, preferring his own language of chromatic writing.
Among the many accolades he earned throughout his career, Kirchner was honored by the New York Music Critics’ Circle; received the Naumburg Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the Friedheim Award; and was commissioned by such organizations as the Ford and Koussevitzky foundations, the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
In addition to his work on his own compositions, Kirchner guided generations of future composers during his three decades of teaching at Harvard University, from 1961 to 1991, as the Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor of Music; perhaps most notable among his students to achieve renown as composers is John Adams.
Leon Kirchner died on September 17, 2009, in New York City, at the age of 90.
November 1, 1989
This album spans 33 years of composer Leon Kirchner’s work, performed by members of the Boston Symphony. The Boston Globe praised these pieces for their ”fecundity of invention and activity, originality, luxuriance and coherence of harmony, [and] masterly exploitation of how instruments sound and how instruments can sound together.”