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College of Music / Quicklinks / Music Library / Special Collections / Personal Collections / Edward Kilenyi Archive

Edward Kilenyi Archive

Edward Kilenyi, Jr. (1910-2000)

Edward Kilenyi Jr. (1910-2000) was a Hungarian-American classical pianist and educator of great influence in the 20th century. He was a pupil, friend, and later colleague of Ernst von Dohnányi (1877-1960), Hungarian composer and pianist. Both men served on the faculty at Florida State University (Kilenyi 1953-83; Dohnányi 1949-60), and are considered two of the most influential musicians who ever taught at FSU. Though born in Philadelphia, Kilenyi was trained at the Liszt Royal Academy in Budapest under Dohnányi. Interrupted only by his service for the U.S. Army in World War II, his performances spanned six decades, and covered a vast range of musical styles.

Kilenyi concert poster

He performed with dozens of major orchestras in Europe and America beginning in the 1930s. Kilenyi recorded more than 100 works, some of which are being re-released on compact disc. Though FSU holds a few reel-to-reel recordings of his performances, most of his recordings are held at the International Piano Archives at Maryland (IPAM) at the University of Maryland Libraries.

Kilenyi was the son of Edward Kilenyi Sr. (1884-1968), violinist, teacher and noted film composer. Though uncredited at times, Kilenyi Sr. worked as composer, arranger, and musical director for the film industry from at least 1920 to 1948. He provided music for Marlene Dietrich’s Die Frau, nach der Man sich Sehnt (1929), Harold D. Schuster’s The Tender Years (1948), and did a later scoring for the first feature length comedy film – Charlie Chaplin’s Tillie’s Punctured Romance (1914, rescored 1938). He was also the composition/harmony teacher of George Gershwin.

Kilenyi concert poster

The Edward Kilenyi Archive consists mainly of letters and correspondences, postcards, telegrams, promotional ephemera, business correspondences and contracts, programs, clippings, and memorabilia pertaining to Kilenyi Jr., the pianist. These are mostly from the first half of the 20th century, and are organized into 20 binders/folders. Also included are oversized posters and pictures from the pianist’s career.

Sculpture of Kilenyi, Jr. by his uncle, the sculptor Julian Kilenyi (photograph)

The archive also holds compositions of Kilenyi Sr., the film composer. Original manuscripts of this composer are exceedingly rare, and only three scores are known to be held in other libraries, including the Library of Congress. Thus, this archive, which includes some 67 original manuscripts and some 123 published titles, is the definitive collection of this composer’s work. It offers valuable insight into how film music was composed and arranged from the 1920s to the 1940s. Also included are items pertaining to Kilenyi Sr.’s musical training in Germany from 1905-08, and later contracts and business documents with the American Society of Composers, Authors, & Publishers (ASCAP) between 1936 and 1940, and his employment with the Sam Fox Publishing company.

A basic inventory of the Kilenyi collection is available: Kilenyi Archives (106 kB)

There is also a research guide exploring some other Kilenyi-related materials.

A related item not included in the archive is Edward Kilenyi, Sr.'s personal copy of Percy Goetschius's The Material Used in Musical Composition, which includes letters and postcards from Goetschius and Daniel Gregory Mason.