Leon Kirchner
Title Details

347 Pages

22.8 x 15.2 cm

20 b/w. 33 line. Illustrations

Series: Eastman Studies in Music

Imprint: University of Rochester Press

Leon Kirchner

Composer, Performer, and Teacher

by Robert Riggs

  • Description
  • Reviews
Biography of the late American composer Leon Kirchner (1919-2009), exploring his work and important personal associations.
In this first biography of American composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher Leon Kirchner (1919-2009), Robert Riggs paints a vivid picture of an extraordinary, multifaceted musician. Refugees from Hitler's Third Reich (Schoenberg, Bloch, and Stravinsky) dominated Kirchner's early development, and he in turn became a transformative mentor for later generations at the University of Southern California, Mills College, and Harvard University. Kirchner's performance persona is brought to life by highlighting his appearances with top orchestras and at major festivals, especially his long tenure at the Marlboro Music Festival, where he worked with Rudolf Serkin and Pablo Casals. Currentchampions of his music (Yo-Yo Ma, Leon Fleisher, and James Levine) are also key protagonists. Kirchner's entire oeuvre is discussed within the chronological narrative, and six representative works are examined in detail.
Inaddition to Riggs's extensive interviews with the composer, the biography is documented with Kirchner's colorful correspondence from a roster of luminaries: Saul Bellow, Leonard Bernstein, Edward Cone, Aaron Copland, Darius Milhaud, Isaac Stern, Roger Sessions, and many others. Excerpts from Kirchner's own elegantly written essays and speeches complete the portrait and reveal his highly personal, romantic view of music as powerful art capable of endowing humanity with an "aesthetic sensibility and protective wisdom, without which we cannot survive."

Robert Riggs is Professor of Music at the University of Mississippi.
"[Kirchner] taught a generation of musicians, including performers such as Yo-Yo Ma. . . . Riggs does an excellent job of describing the expressive content and technical aspects of the compositions. . . . The many extracts from primary sources, especially letters between Schoenberg, Sessions, Copland, and Kirchner, along with Kirchner's own eloquent statements and speeches, bring a fascinating period of history vividly to life." Jonathan Blumhofer, MUSIC LIBRARY ASSOCIATION NOTES
"This in-depth study of the broad range of talents, achievements, friendships, statements, and creative activities of Leon Kirchner (1919-2009) is a treasure. . . . Admirably captures the essence of this lionhearted, in all ways creative, human being." Dorothy Lamb Crawford, AMERICAN MUSIC
"[Kirchner] was, with Leonard Bernstein, the outstanding American composer of his generation. . . . Everything in Kirchner is expressive, passionate, full of emotional power. . . . A fine portrait . . . enlivened by personal details and anecdotes derived from Riggs's conversations with Kirchner." David Matthews, TEMPO
"An insider's view of the development of American musical modernism throughout the 20th century. Topics of special interest include Kirchner's training with Arnold Schoenberg and Roger Sessions, relationships with other leading performers and composers (e.g., Aaron Copland), and personal philosophies of musical pedagogy and aesthetics." Stanley C. Pelkey, CHOICE
"Contemporary American composers have few able defenders, . . . so it is good to have a biographical tribute . . . from University of Rochester Press to Leon Kirchner, who died in 2009 at age 90l. . . . Excellent and worthy appreciation . . . [of] a major and enduring talent." Benjamin Ivry Full review at http://blogs.forward.com/the-arty-semite/134623/, THE ART SEMITE
"This handsomely-produced book is the first to be published on Kirchner... details of Kirchner's rich musical life as composer, pianist, conductor and university teacher are assiduously spelt out and enlivened by personal details and anecdotes TEMPO, Vol. 65 No. 258, October 2011" .
"Informative and welcome introduction to a composer who balanced modernist leanings with an instinctive sense of the romantic." Michael Quinn and chosen as an Editor's Choice book of 2011, CLASSICAL MUSIC

Hardcover

9781580463430

November 2010

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Ebook (EPDF)

9781580467650

November 2010

$24.99 / £19.99

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Title Details

347 Pages

2.28 x 1.52 cm

20 b/w. 33 line. Illustrations

Series: Eastman Studies in Music

Imprint: University of Rochester Press