Kenneth Leighton (2 October 1929 – 24 August 1988)

Kenneth Leighton (2 October 1929 – 24 August 1988)
30 years ago today, Kenneth Leighton died at the age of 58. Despite his busy life as a teacher - principally with tenures at Leeds University, Edinburgh University and Worcester College, Oxford - and as a marvellously gifted pianist, composing appeared a priority. 
He was awarded numerous prizes for composition, including the Busoni Prize (1956), the National Federation of Music Societies Prize for the best choral work of the year (1960), the City of Trieste First Prize for a new symphonic work (1965), the Bernard Sprengel Prize for chamber music (1966) and the Cobbett Medal for distinguished services to chamber music (1967).
Leighton’s sacred works are possibly his best-known, with countless motets and liturgical works performed regularly in churches and cathedrals worldwide. However, there is a depth to the catalogue that deserves comprehensive exploration; the three symphonies first and foremost, the concertos for piano, organ, violin, viola, and cello, the many pieces for solo piano, and the occasional works for piano duet and two pianos. Above all, perhaps, there is his only opera Columba, a work borne of his love of Scotland and which draws together a great many strands of his composing persona.


Recommended Listening
  • Cello Concerto & Symphony No 3 (Wallfisch/Mackie/Thomson – Chandos CHAN10307X)
  • Complete Chamber Works for Cello (Wallfisch/Terroni – Naxos 8.571358)
  • Complete Solo Piano Works (Brownridge – Delphian DCD34301-3)
  • Orchestral Works Vol. 2 (Hickox – Chandos CHAN10495)
  • Organ Works Vol.1 (Farr/Butt – Resonus Classics)
  • Sacred Choral Music (Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge – Naxos 8.555795)

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