September 20, 2009

Composer Kirchner dead at age 90

U.S. composer Leon Kirchner, whose four-string quartets highlighted his musical career, has died in New York at the age of 90, his daughter Lisa says.

The New York Times said Sunday that Kirchner's four quartet compositions range from a 1950 string composition filled with spacious lyricism to a tumultuous 2006 compact piece.

Music is a science, Kirchner once said about the world of music, but a science that must make people laugh and dance and sing.

In addition to creating his four string quartets, Kirchner served as professor of music at Harvard University for 28 years and conducted the Harvard Chamber Orchestra.

Composer John Adams said he always thought composing works represented the manifestation of inner struggles for Kirchner.

I got the feeling that composing was meant to be a painful activity, a ferocious wrestling match with inner demons, Adams said.

The Times said Kirchner, who died of congestive heart failure on Thursday, is survived by daughter Lisa; his son, Paul; his brother, Julius, and his companion, Sally Wardwell.