Scope and arrangement
The Leon Kirchner papers document the career of the composer, conductor and pianist from the 1950s to the early 2000s. They include published and unpublished scores and sketches, many with corrections and annotations, documenting the creation of most of his output; correspondence from many prominent figures including Aaron Copland, Rogers Sessions, Arnold Schoenberg, Darius Milhaud, Richard Franko Goldman, Virgil Thomson, Yo-Yo Ma, Dmitri Mitropolous and Saul Bellow; Kirchner's writings about his work; concert programs from throughout his career, including many for the Harvard Chamber Orchestra; clippings from throughout his career; photographs; and posters.
The collection also contains audio and video recordings. The video recordings consist of a half-hour documentary of Kirchner at the Marlboro Music Festival, ca. 1976, in its original 16mm print, a beta transfer, and a DVD transfer; and a VHS recording of a performance of Kirchner's For Solo Cello by Bion Tsang with the Omsk Philharmonic Orchestra. The audio recordings include 32 CD-Rs of the Harvard Chamber Orchestra under Kirchner's direction from 1980 to 1993. Performances of Bach, Mozart, Handel, Brahms, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Bruckner, Shostakovich, Beethoven, Haydn, Mahler, Paul Hindemith, Roger Sessions and Arthur Berger are held here. One CD-R contains performances by the Marlboro Music Festival orchestra in 1971 and 1972 under Kirchner's direction performing music by Webern and Hindemith. There is also a CD-R of Kirchner's second piano concerto, performed by Marc-André Hamelin, under Kirchner's direction, with the Harvard Chamber Orchestra and the Philadelphia orchestra in 1988.
Inquiries regarding audio/visual materials in the collection may be directed to the Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound (firstname.lastname@example.org). Audio/visual materials will be subject to preservation evaluation and migration prior to access.
The Leon Kirchner papers are arranged in two series:
25 boxes. This series contains correspondence, clippings, programs, publishing files, Kirchner's writings, commission and performance contracts, posters, photographs and military records.
Kirchner filed most of his correspondence alphabetically under the heading of "Correspondence", but letters also appears under other headings such as Commissions, Former Students, Publishing, and Guest Appearances.
Under the heading of Correspondence, the largest files are those for Paul Fromm and Harvard University. The Fromm files contain personal letters from Fromm as well as official correspondence from the Fromm Music Foundation. The Harvard files contain personal and official letters from colleagues and administrators at the university, and departmental memos and correspondence pertaining to the Harvard Chamber Orchestra. The files for the Boston Philharmonic Society and the Boston Symphony Orchestra document Kirchner's involvement and work with both organizations. Other correspondents include Roger Sessions, Arnold Schoenberg, Richard Franko Goldman, David Amram, Ned Rorem, Peter Serkin, Isaac Stern, Virgil Thomson, Walter Trampler, the Continuum music ensemble, Marlboro Music, Mills College, the University of California, Luciano Berio, Leonard Bernstein, John Cage, Aaron Copland, Morton Feldman, Milton Babbitt, Ross Lee Finney, Leonard Stein, Yo-Yo Ma, Darius Milhaud, Dmitri Mitropoulos, Vivian Perlis and Tossy Spivakosky. Though letters from Kirchner can be found throughout the correspondence files, most are filed under his name. Additional correspondence from some composers is in a file Kirchner maintained for Former Students. Correspondence from Janet Baker-Carr contains has a transcript of an interview with Kirchner.
Clippings are in two divisions, one for the Harvard Chamber Orchestra and one for general clippings. They extensively document Kirchner's career from 1949 until his activities slowed in the mid-2000s, and consist primarily of concert previews and reviews. The concert programs are also divided into groupings for the Harvard Chamber Orchestra and general programs, which document performances in which Kirchner was either pianist or conductor, or in which his music was performed. The programs extensively document Kirchner's career from the 1940s onward and include performances by orchestras, chamber groups and soloists across the country.
Publishing files contain correspondence and contracts with Kirchner's publishers, Associated Music Publishers (later bought by G. Schirmer), and Mercury Music, as well as with the rights organization BMI. They also contain correspondence with the Pulitzer Prize committee.
Two of Kirchner's compositions, Lily and Of Things Exactly As They Are, have files of correspondence relating to them. These are filed in this series under Compositions. Other information on his compositions can be found in the Discography file, which lists compositions and recordings.
Kirchner's writings include his program notes for each of his string quartets and for Music for Orchestra; speech and lecture notes for instructional and public occasions; and essays on musical and non-musical topics.
The Guest Appearances file contains correspondence and contracts with performing ensembles and organizations that engaged Kirchner as conductor or commissioned compositions from him.
Photographs document Kirchner from the 1950s to late in his life and include solo portraits as well as group photographs. There are also pictures of Kirchner with Aaron Copland, Seiji Ozawa, Yo-Yo Ma, Darius Milhaud and Jaime Laredo, among others. Photographs of other people consist of autographed pictures of Milhaud and Dmitri Mitropoulos, a portrait of Arnold Schoenberg, and a photo of Gertrude Kirchner with John Kenneth Galbraith.
The posters primarily advertise performances by the Harvard Chamber Orchestra, but also include occasions on which Kirchner was featured as guest conductor or composer.
The file for Kirchner's 70th Birthday Celebration contains birthday notes and cards and the program for the concert held in his honor, on which music composed for him was played. See also scores by other composers in Series II.
15 boxes. The scores are in two divisions: those by Kirchner and those by other composers. Kirchner's work is arranged alphabetically by title. Most of his major works are present, including String Quartets 1, 3 and 4; the two piano concertos; the three pianos sonatas; the Sonata Concertante, the orchestral works Music for Orchestra (I and II), N.Y. Connotations, Music for Cello and Orchestra and Music for Flute and Orchestra; the opera Lily (based on Saul Bellow's Henderson The Rain King); smaller ensemble pieces such as Toccata for Strings, Solo Winds and Percussion; and solo works for piano, cello, and violin. Also among the scores is a folder of exercises Kirchner did for Arnold Schoenberg in 1939, and annotated by Kirchner in 1993.
The score files include varying combinations of sketches, manuscript scores and parts, and publisher proofs and final published versions, often containing written corrections and annotations. Notes with each composition or folder specify exact content. The series also contains two boxes of unfinished sketches, and two folders of orphan score or part pages.
The scores by other composers consist primarily of pieces written by friends and former students in honor of Kirchner's birthdays, mostly for his 70th, for which a celebratory concert was held (see also 70th Birthday Celebration in Series I). These include short pieces by David Del Tridici, Ivan Tcherepnin, Arthur Berger (who also wrote a birthday piece for Kirchner's wife, Gertrude), William Eldridge, Russell Steinberg and Peter Lieberson. The 70th birthday scores were gathered in a decorated gift box for presentation to Kirchner. This gift box is in box 32. The one non-birthday related score is Lament for Oedipus by Seymour Shifrin, which is autographed to Kirchner.