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Edward Kilenyi Archive

Collection Overview

  • 11 binders of correspondence
  • 7 binders of ephemera and memorabilia
  • 10 binders of related materials
  • 0.5 linear feet of music
  • 24 record albums


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.

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, film composer, and orchestrator. 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 theory and harmony teacher to George Gershwin.

The Edward Kilenyi Archive consists mainly of letters, postcards, and telegrams to and from Edward Kilenyi, Jr., his parents, and his uncle (predominantly ca. 1928-1941), promotional ephemera, business correspondence and contracts, programs, clippings, and memorabilia pertaining to Kilenyi Jr., the pianist.

The archive also holds compositions of Kilenyi Sr., items pertaining to his musical training in Germany from 1905-08, 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 related item 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.

The collection is available for research by appointment in the music library. For information, please contact our Special Collections staff.