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(1919 - 2009)

Kirchner was born in Brooklyn in 1919, the son of Russian Jews. At the age of nine his family moved to Los Angeles, which was in the 1930s to become a creative mecca with the influx of distinguished figures fleeing Nazi Europe. Family hopes for a medical career were dashed when Kirchner put his zoology major behind him and entered Arnold Schoenbergs class at U.C.L.A. (University of California at Los Angeles). He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from the University of California at Berkeley, where he had classes with Ernest Bloch. Awarded the Prix de Paris in 1942, he intended to go abroad, but because of the war settled in New York and studied with Roger Sessions. After army service he returned to Berkeley for graduate studies. He held professorships at the University of Southern California, Mills College, and, from 1961 until his retirement in 1989, at Harvard University.

Kirchner is a man of the broadest artistic and intellectual horizons, and an immensely perceptive teacher of both composers and performers. (This writer was his student at Mills College.) At Harvard he created a unique music analysis/performance class, which had an enormous impact on such budding celebrities as Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Chang, and James Oliver Buswell. A pianist and conductor of rare gifts, he has been guest conductor with major orchestras, and in residence at numerous festivals. He is especially proud of the Harvard Chamber orchestra, which he founded to perform traditional and contemporary repertoire.

Kirchners works include the opera Lily, two piano concertos, two cello concertos, three string quartets, Concerto for Violin, Cello, Ten Winds, and Percussion, Music for Orchestra I and II, Music for Flute and Orchestra, a song cycle The Twilight Stood, a monumental cantata Of Things Exactly As They Are, and other orchestral, chamber, and solo works. In recent years he has written a second Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano (1993), Duo for Violin and Piano (2002), and Piano Sonata (2003). Kirchner has received numerous major commissions and awards, including the 1967 Pulitzer Prize and the 1994 Friedheim Award of the Kennedy Center.

Role: Classical Composer 
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