Leon Kirchner: Composer, Performer, and Teacher

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University Rochester Press, 2010 - Music - 330 pages
In this first biography of eminent American composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher Leon Kirchner (1919-2009), Robert Riggs paints a vivid picture of an extraordinary, multi-faceted 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. Current champions 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. In addition 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 associate professor of music at the University of Mississippi.
 

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Contents

Figures
17
Reception following conferral of Honorary Doctorate from Harvard 2001 226
19
Kirchner in Cambridge 2001 230
24
Kirchner in the army ca 1945
31
Guggenheim Fellow in New York City
37
At Coplands home Snedens Landing New York 1949
40
Kirchner in New York City 1949
46
Musical Examples 1 Piano Sonata No 1 II mm 115
51
Rudolf Kolisch Rudolf Serkin and Kirchner at the Marlboro Music Festival 1964
128
Kirchner conducting at the Marlboro Music Festival ca 1970
132
Performance at the Smithsonian Institution Washington
138
In Harvard Square after Harvard Chamber Orchestra Concert ca 1985
143
Kirchner in his study Cambridge ca 1970
149
Kirchner and Pierre Boulez March 8 1969
154
Harvard Years IIComposing
158
Kirchner in his study Cambridge 1976
174

University of Southern California
58
Piano Trio No 1 I mm 114
76
Mills College
80
8a Piano Trio No 1 I mm 13840
81
String Quartet No 2 I mm 16 110
82
Kirchner at Mills College 1956
87
Kirchner performing at the Aspen Music Festival 1961
105
String Quartet No 2 II mm 10813
108
String Quartet No 2 III mm 23035
113
Harvard Years ITeaching Performing and Writing
114
Exam for analysis class at Harvard in 1969
118
Jaime Laredo and Kirchner at the Marlboro Music Festival ca 1965
127
Gertrude and Leon Kirchner in Spoleto Italy 1982
183
Leonard Bernstein Aaron Copland and Kirchner at Tanglewood 1985
191
Music for Orchestra mm 16
196
Music for Orchestra mm 711
197
Retirement
207
Rehearsal with YoYo Ma and David Zinman for Music for Cello and Orchestra 1992
213
After premiere in Boston of Of Things Exactly As They Are 1997
221
Epilogue
246
Discography
260
Notes
277
Bibliography
307
Copyright

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