guitarist and composer
DAVID LEISNER is an extraordinarily versatile musician with a multi-faceted career
as an electrifying performing artist, a distinguished composer, and a master teacher.
“Among the finest guitarists of all time”, according to American Record Guide, David
Leisner's career began auspiciously with top prizes in both the 1975 Toronto and 1981
Geneva International Guitar Competitions. His recent seasons have taken him around
the US, including his solo debut with the Atlanta Symphony, a major tour of Australia
and New Zealand, and debuts and reappearances in Japan, the Philippines, Germany,
Hungary, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, the U.K., Italy, Czech
Republic, Greece, Puerto Rico and Mexico. An innovative three-concert series at
Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall included the first all-Bach guitar recital in New
York’s history, and currently he is the Artistic Director of Guitar Plus, a New York
series devoted to chamber music with the guitar. He has also performed chamber
music at the Santa Fe, Vail Valley, Rockport, Cape and Islands, Bargemusic, Bay
Chamber and Angel Fire Festivals, with Eugenia Zukerman, Kurt Ollmann, Lucy
Shelton, Ida Kavafian, the St. Lawrence and Vermeer Quartets and many others.
Celebrated for expanding the guitar repertoire, David Leisner has premiered works by
many important composers, including David Del Tredici, Virgil Thomson, Ned Rorem,
Philip Glass, Richard Rodney Bennett, Peter Sculthorpe and Osvaldo Golijov, while
championing the works of neglected 19th-century guitar composers J.K. Mertz and
A featured recording artist for Azica Records, Leisner has released 7 highly acclaimed
solo CDs. Naxos produced his recording of the Hovhaness Concerto with Gerard
Schwarz and the Berlin Radio Orchestra. Other CDs include the Koch recording of
Haydn Quartet in D with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and Hovhaness Spirit
of Trees for Telarc with harpist Yolanda Kondonassis. And Mel Bay Co. released a
solo concert DVD called Classics and Discoveries.
Mr. Leisner is also a highly respected composer noted for the emotional and dramatic
power of his music. Fanfare magazine described it as “rich in invention and melody,
emotionally direct, and beautiful”. South Florida Classical Review called him “an
original and arresting compositional voice.” Recent commissioners include the
baritone Wolfgang Holzmair, Arc Duo, Stones River Chamber Players (TN), Fairfield
Orchestra (CT), Red Cedar Chamber Music (IA), and the Twentieth Century
Unlimited Series (NM). Recordings of his works are currently available on the Sony
Classical, ABC, Dorian, Azica, Cedille, Centaur, Town Hall, Signum, Acoustic Music,
Athena and Barking Dog labels. The Cavatina Duo’s recording of his complete works
for flute and guitar, Acrobats (Cedille) was released to exceptionally strong reviews.
His compositions are mostly published by Merion Music/Theodore Presser Co., as
well as AMP/G. Schirmer, Doberman-Yppan and Columbia Music.
David Leisner is the co-chair of the guitar department at the Manhattan School of
Music. Primarily self-taught as both guitarist and composer, he briefly studied guitar
with John Duarte, David Starobin and Angelo Gilardino and composition with Richard
Winslow, Virgil Thomson, Charles Turner and David Del Tredici.
photo by Lisa-Marie Mazzucco
Website content © David Leisner 2012. All rights reserved.