Karl Kohn

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Karl Kohn
Born (1926-08-01) August 1, 1926 (age 97)
Occupation(s)composer and pianist
EmployerPomona College

Karl Georg Kohn (born August 1, 1926) is an Austrian-born American composer, teacher and pianist. He taught at Pomona College for more than 40 years.


Kohn began playing the piano as a child in Vienna; after he emigrated to the United States at the age of 13, he continued his education at the New York College of Music (1940–1944)[1] and at Harvard (B.A., M.A.) where he studied composition with Walter Piston, Irving Fine, and Randall Thompson.[2] He is W. M. Keck Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at Pomona College, where he taught for over forty years.[3] His students at Pomona included Douglas Leedy, David Noon and Susan Morton Blaustein as well as, privately, Frank Zappa[4] and John McGuire.

With his wife, Margaret Kohn, he has had a long career as a duo-pianist in the United States and in Europe, with a repertoire focused on major 20th century works by Debussy, Bartók, Berio, Stravinsky, Messiaen, Ligeti, Reich, and Boulez. Kohn played in the US premier of Boulez's Structures together with the composer.

Kohn's own works have been performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestras, the Oakland Symphony, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, on the San Francisco Symphony's Musica Viva series, at the Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles (Kohn served for two decades on the board of directors of the Monday Evening Concerts), and in concerts and broadcasts throughout the United States and abroad.


Kohn has composed in all major genres of concert music.[5] His work uses a unique collage-like style, in which individual instruments or groups of instruments project themselves from the surrounding events. His music cannot easily be immediately identified as either European or American in character, as it uses both the resources of his deep engagement in the European classical traditional as well as a more empirical approach to his materials.[6][7][8]

Karl Kohn's principal publishers are Carl Fischer Music, New York, GunMar Music, Inc., (from Shawnee Press, Delaware Water Gap, PA), Edition Contemp Art, Vienna, and Material Press, Frankfurt am Main.


  1. ^ Steve Metcalf (1980). "Kohn, Karl". In Stanley Sadie (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Vol. 20. London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd. ISBN 1-56159-174-2.
  2. ^ Pollack, Howard (1992). Harvard Composers: Walter Piston and His Students, from Elliott Carter to Frederic Rzewski. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-2493-0.
  3. ^ "Pomona College Department of Music". Archived from the original on 2008-12-20. Retrieved 2009-07-09.
  4. ^ "PCM Online > Winter 2001". Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2009-07-09.
  5. ^ "Pomona College Department of Music". Archived from the original on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2009-07-09.
  6. ^ http://www.ewc.at/ewc_komponisten/more.php?id=15&COMPOSER=29e1082145a9b59192bbbdeaf1546854[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Kohn notes". Archived from the original on 2006-09-01. Retrieved 2006-09-01.
  8. ^ Wolf, Daniel (1 August 2006). "Renewable Music: Karl Kohn". renewablemusic.blogspot.com.