Kennan, Kent 1913–2003

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Kennan, Kent 1913–2003

(Kent Wheeler Kennan)

PERSONAL: Born April 18, 1913, in Milwaukee, WI; died November 1, 2003, in Austin, TX, of complications from kidney disease; son of Kossuth Kent and Sara Louise (Wheeler) Kennan. Education: Attended University of Michigan, 1930–32; University of Rochester, Eastman School of Music, Mus.B., 1934, Mus.M., 1936; also studied music in Rome, Italy.

CAREER: Kent State University, Kent, OH, instructor in music theory and piano, 1939–40; University of Texas, Austin, TX, instructor, 1940–42, professor of music, 1946–47, 1949–83, professor emeritus, 1983–2003; Ohio State University, Columbus, professor of music, 1947–49; Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY, summer instructor in orchestration and composition, 1954, 1956. Military service: U.S. Air Corps, 1942–45; bandsman, warrant officer, and bandleader.

MEMBER: American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), National Association of American Composers and Conductors, MacDowell Colonists, Phi Mu Alpha, Pi Kappa Lambda, Delta Tau Delta.

AWARDS, HONORS: Prix de Rome in music, 1936; E. William Doty Award, University of Texas—Austin, 2001.


The Technique of Orchestration (includes workbook), Prentice-Hall (New York, NY), 1952, 6th edition, with Donald Grantham, 2002.

Counterpoint: Based on Eighteenth-Century Practice (includes workbook), Prentice-Hall (New York, NY), 1959, 4th edition, 1999.

Also composer of music for sound recording Music for Trumpet and Piano, 1973; a number of Kennan's works have been recorded by trumpet player David Hickman, as well as a variety of orchestras. Composer of numerous musical works, including symphonies Night Soliloquy, 1936, Il campo dei fiori, 1937, Nocturne, 1937, Promenade, 1938, Dance Divertimento, 1938, and Concertino, 1946; chamber and instrumental music, including Sonata, 1938, Three Preludes, 1939, Scherzo, Aria and Fugato, 1948, and Sonata, 1956; and vocal/choral music, including A Clear Midnight, 1938, I Saw the White Daisies, 1938, I Shall Not Care, 1938, The Unknown Warrior Speaks, 1944, and A John Donne Prayer, 1946.

Author of musical scores, including Night Soliloquy: For Flute and Guitar, Eastman School of Music (New York, NY), 1986; Night Soliloquy: For Flute and Harp, Eastman School of Music (New York, NY), 1986; Night Soliloquy: For Flute and Vibraphone, Eastman School of Music (New York, NY), 1986; Night Soliloquy: For Flute and Flute Ensemble with String and Bass and Piano, Eastman School of Music (New York, NY), 1986; Notturno, E.F. Kalmus (Miami, FL), 1988; Il campo dei fiori: For Solo Trumpet and Small Orchestra, E.F. Kalmus (Miami, FL), 1988; and Threnody: For Flute and Piano, T. Presser (Bryn Mawr, PA), 1994.

Kennan also arranged music by such composers as Prokofiev and Brahms. His manuscripts, scores, and other personal documents are maintained at the Harry Ranson Humanities Research Center, University of Texas—Austin.

SIDELIGHTS: Kent Kennan composed musical works ranging from symphonies to choral pieces, his most notable contributions being Night Soliloquy, Dance Divertimento, Il campo dei fiori, The Unknown Warrior Speaks, and A John Donne Prayer. Russell Kane, writing in Contemporary Composers, considered The Unknown Warrior Speaks to be the high point of Kennan's career. First performed toward the end of World War II before an audience that included Eleanor Roosevelt, the work is "one of the significant American choral works of its period," according to Kane. Kennan's early music bore evidence of a strong jazz influence, but later the composer's pieces became more neo-classical. He composed the majority of his music in the 1930s and 1940s, turning to transcription and teaching later in life, as well as publishing two books, Counterpoint: Based on Eighteenth-Century Practice and The Technique of Orchestration, both of which are still being used by music students today.



Contemporary Composers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1992.


American Record Guide, July-August, 1994, p. 217; May-June, 2004, p. 126.

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