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Leon Kirchner

Leon KirchnerBorn: 24-Jan-1919
Birthplace: Brooklyn, NY
Died: 17-Sep-2009
Location of death: Manhattan, NY
Cause of death: Heart Failure

Gender: Male
Religion: Jewish
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Composer

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Quartet No. 3

Military service: US Army (1943-46, infantry, 2nd Lt.)

Leon Kirchner learned piano at an early age, and studied music at Los Angeles and UC Berkeley. Most formatively he studied under dissonant composer Arnold Schoenberg, but did not adopt Schoenberg's 12-tone technique. In graduate school, Kirchner won the $5,000 George Ladd Traveling Fellowship (the "Paris Prize"), but because of the war, was unable to enjoy it. After service in the infantry he returned to Berkeley. His first published work, Duo, attracted enough attention in the right places. Kirchner is best known for his four string quartets, published in 1950, 1958, 1966, and 2006. The third won him the Pulizer Prize in Music. His 1977 opera, Lily, is based on a Saul Bellow novel, Henderson the Rain King. Kirchner began writing the opera in 1959, and although he considers the opera his life's work, upon its release it was an immediate failure. He authored many other musical works. Kirchner held professorships at USC, Mills College, and was Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor at Harvard for thirty years. He died in 2009 from congestive heart failure at his Central Park West apartment in Manhattan.

Father: Samuel Kirchner
Mother: Pauline
Wife: Gertrude Schoenberg (singer, m. 8-Jul-1949, one son, one daughter)
Son: Paul
Daughter: Lisa

    University: Zoology, Los Angeles City College (transferred)
    University: University of California at Los Angeles (transferred)
    University: BA, University of California at Berkeley (1940)
    Professor: San Francisco Conservatory
    Professor: University of Southern California (1950-54)
    Professor: Luther Brusie Marchant Professor of Music, Mills College (1954-61)
    Professor: Walter Bigelow Rosen Professor of Music, Harvard University (1961-91)
    Professor: Juilliard School of Music

    American Academy of Arts and Letters
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1962
    Pulitzer Prize for Music 1967 for Quartet No. 3
    Guggenheim Fellowship
    Russian Ancestry

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