Leonard Kastle Papers, 1940-1996
- Kastle, Leonard
- The collection contains material pertaining to Leonard Kastle, an American composer, pianist, film writer and director. Kastle also served as a Visiting Professor of Humanities and Fine Arts at the University at Albany in the 1980s.
- 18.52 cubic ft.
- English and English
- Preferred citation:
- Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, The Leonard Kastle Papers, 1940-1996. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Kastle Papers).
Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access:
Access to this record group is unrestricted.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
- Scope and Content:
This collection documents the creation of a selection of Leonard Kastle's works, including orchestral and vocal compositions, operas and screenplays, written between 1954 and 1991. The collection is composed primarily of scores from these musical works, including both hand-written drafts and more finalized versions produced and corrected during the printing process.
Scores of Kastle's orchestral compositions may be found in the series From a Whitman Reader (1954) and Piano Concerto (1981). The piano reduction from Kastle's vocal composition is located in the series Acquainted with the Night (1957). Kastle's operas scores may be found in the series Deseret (1959-61), The Pariahs (1961-66) and The Passion of Mother Ann (1983-87). Kastle's screenplays, both produced and unproduced, may be found in Series 5. They include The Honeymoon Killers (1969-70), Wedding at Cana (1971-76), Change of Heart (1971-75), Shakespeare's Dog (1991) and Teddy Bear (Undated).
- Biographical / Historical:
Leonard Gregory Kastle, American composer, pianist, film writer and director, was born in New York City on February 11, 1929. Following his high school education in Mount Vernon, NY, Kastle began his musical training at the Julliard School of Music in New York City, 1938-40. From 1940-42, he attended the Mannes Music School, where he studied piano with Frank Sheridan and composition with George Szell. From 1942-52, Kastle held a piano scholarship with Paul Wittgenstein. Kastle studied composition at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia from 1944-50, earning a B.A. in 1950. While at the Curtis Institute, he held scholarships in composition with Rosario Scalero, Gian-Carlo Menotti, and Samuel Barber, and a scholarship in piano with Isabelle Vengerova. In addition, Kastle attended Columbia University from 1947-50. He was a student of conducting with Carl Bamberger in NYC from 1950-52.
Kastle's early professional career was spent on Broadway where he was music directory for revivals of Menotti's The Medium (1950) and The Telephone (1950) and for Weill's Lady in the Dark (1951). He was assistant musical director and conductor for NBC television's Opera Theater from 1955-1959, directing one of his own operas, The Swing (one act, televised by NBC on June 11, 1954), as well as works of other composers. Other operas both written and directed by Kastle include Deseret (an opera in three acts based on the life of the Mormon prophet Brigham Young, televised by NBC on January 11, 1961 and revived in 1978); The Pariahs, (opera in three acts about whaling commissioned by the Deerfield Foundation; completed in 1966; with excerpts performed in Albany, NY in 1985); The Passion of Mother Ann: A Sacred Festival Play (opera trilogy about the Shakers, excerpts performed: The Calling of Mother Ann in Albany, NY in 1985, and The Journey of Mother Ann in Potsdam, NY in 1987); and his one-act children's opera, Professor Lookalike and the Children (performed in Albany, NY in 1988).
Kastle has a number of musical and orchestral compositions to his credit. Among his orchestral compositions are From a Whitman Reader (for voice and orchestra), 1954; Poontoosuc (for baritone and orchestra, performed at Tanglewood on July 4, 1976), 1974-75; and Piano Concerto (performed by the composer as a soloist in Albany, NY in 1981). Kastle's vocal works include Three Walt Whitman Songs (for chorus), 1956; Acquainted with the Night (five songs based on poems by Robert Frost), 1957; Three Songs from Moby Dick (for chorus, winner of the Baxter Prize for choral composition), 1963; and Mass (for chorus, organ, and piano, televised by PBS on December 25,1977; revised version performed in Albany, NY on May 30, 1978). Kastle has also composed chamber pieces including Piano Sonata, 1950; Violin Sonata, 1955 (revised version performed in Albany, NY on March 17, 1986); and Piano Suite, 1957. In addition to his operatic and musical compositions, Kastle wrote and directed the film, The Honeymoon Killers, which was released by Cinerama in 1970. In 1970, the film was chosen by the Museum of Modern Art for inclusion in its film archives, and in 1971 it received the Black Humor Award in Paris. The Honeymoon Killers was re-released nationally in 1992, when it was also shown at the San Francisco Film Festival, the Festivale Internationale Cinema Giovani in Italy, and the Film Forum in New York City. In 1998, the film was featured at the Midnight Sun Film Festival in SodankylÃ¤, Finland.
Kastle has received a number of prizes, grants and awards including first prize in the Leschetitsky Piano Competition (1948), a Baxter Prize for choral composition (1963), an NEA grant (1974), and two Meet-the-Composer grants (1981 and 1985).
From 1978 to 1989 Kastle was a visiting professor of humanities and fine arts at the University at Albany, SUNY where he taught composition. After retiring from the University, Kastle continued to teach classes as an adjunct faculty member. He died in May 2011 at the age of 82.
1938-1940 Studied at Juilliard School 1940-1942 Studied at Mannes Music School. Held scholarship in composition with George Szell. 1942-1952 Held piano scholarship with Paul Wittgenstein. 1944-1950 Attended Curtis Institute of Music (received B.A. in 1950). Held scholarships in piano with Isabelle Vengerova and in composition with Rosario Scalero, Gian-Carlo Menotti and Samuel Barber. 1947-1950 Attended Columbia University. 1948 Received first prize in Leschetitsky Piano Competition 1950 Music Director of Broadway revival of Menotti's The Medium and The Telephone. 1950-1952 Studied conducting with Carl Bamberger. 1954 From a Whitman Reader for voice and orchestra premiered by the Oklahoma Symphony. 1955 Violin Sonata premiered at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. 1955-1959 Assistant Musical Director and Conductor for the NBC Television Opera Theater. 1956 Premiere of opera The Swing on NBC's Opera Theater with Kastle as director. Three Walt Whitman Songs for chorus performed by Tanglewood Chorus. 1957 Acquainted with the Night, premiered on CBS Television program, "Camera Three." 1959 Received commission from Wallace Scudder Foundation to write opera, Deseret. 1961 Deseret premiered on NBC TV's Opera Theater. 1961-1966 Composed opera The Pariahs under a Deerfield Foundation grant. 1963 Received the Baxter Prize for choral composition, Three Songs from Moby Dick. 1969-1970 Wrote screenplay for and directed production of the film The Honeymoon Killers which was released in 1970 by Cinerama. 1971-1976 Wrote screenplays for Wedding at Cana, Aloha and Change of Heart (all unproduced). 1974-1975 Wrote Pontoosuce for baritone and orchestra which received its world premiere at Tanglewood in 1976. 1977-1978 Mass received world premiere on Public Television. 1978-1979 Visiting Professor of Humanities and Fine Arts, State University of New York at Albany. 1979 Wrote screenplay for The Teddy Bear (unproduced). Premiere of chamber song cycle, The Weeping Pleiades. 1980-1981 Completed The Birdwatchers, a play with music. 1981 Piano Concerto premiered by the Albany Symphony Orchestra with Kastle as soloist. 1985 Premiere of The Calling of Mother Ann in Hancock Shaker Village. 1986 Performances of Shaker Dances for flute, horn, violin, cello, and harpsichord by Capital Chamber Artists in Albany, NY and in Castleton, VT. Romanza H.B., commissioned by Castleton State College, performed at the Fine Arts Center, Castleton State College, VT; and at Page Hall, Albany, NY. 1986-1987 Performance of The Calling of Mother Ann and world premiere of The Journey of Mother Ann. 1988 Premiere of children's opera, Professor Lookalike and the Children in Albany, NY, funded by a NYS Arts Council Arts-in-Education grant. 1991 Wrote screenplay for Shakespeare's Dog (unproduced). 1992 Wrote screenplay for Weatherman (unproduced). 2011 Passed away in May at the age of 82.
- Acquisition information:
Leonard Kastle donated his papers beginning in 1998.
- Processing information:
Processed in 2000 by Rebecca Hatcher.