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Leon Kirchner Obituary

Albany TROY906

Leon Kirchner, Composer and Teacher, Dies at 90

By Anthony Tommasini
New York Times

September 17, 2009

Leon Kirchner, the eminent American composer who was also a pianist, a conductor and an influential teacher, died on Thursday at his home on Central Park West in Manhattan. He was 90. The cause was congestive heart failure, said his daughter, Lisa Kirchner.

Mr. Kirchner’s early music was strongly influenced by Bartók and Stravinsky. But a formative experience studying at the University of California, Los Angeles, with Arnold Schoenberg, the towering Austrian composer and pioneer of the 12-tone technique, set Mr. Kirchner on a lifelong creative path. Although he came to identify completely with the aesthetic of Schoenberg, Berg and Webern, he was an instinctive composer who never adopted the rigorous procedures of 12-tone composition.

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