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Robert Kirzinger

Director of Program Publications, Boston Symphony Orchestra


Robert Kirzinger joined the staff of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1998 and became Director of Program Publications in 2020. He is the BSO’s only on-staff annotator and pre-concert speaker. His program notes for the BSO range from the music of Gabrieli in the 16th century to Thomas Adès in the 21st. As a composer himself, he has a special concern for advocating for living composers. He is also deeply interested in correspondences among performance, visual, and literary art forms, often using one medium to illustrate principles of another.

Kirzinger has written program essays for more than 120 world premiere performances by the BSO, Tanglewood Music Center, and Boston Symphony Chamber Players, along with creating online educational content and writing and producing BSO podcasts. He inaugurated Tanglewood’s acclaimed Festival of Contemporary Music program book in 1999. In addition to regular pre-concert talks for Symphony Hall and Tanglewood audiences, his onstage interviews have featured such artists as Elliott Carter, Milton Babbitt, John Harbison, Anthony Davis, Roberto Sierra, Kaija Saariaho, Oliver Knussen, Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Gandolfi, Julia Adolphe, Carlos Simon, and many others, as well as BSO musicians and scholars and experts in other fields.

Beyond the BSO, Kirzinger was annotator and pre-concert speaker for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project for more than ten years. He has written for the Cleveland Orchestra, Opera Boston, Collage New Music, Radius Ensemble, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, Miller Theatre at Columbia University, the 92nd Street Y, the BBC, and Teatro Real Madrid, among others. His essays appear in dozens of albums on the Deutsche Grammophon, Naxos, Decca, New World Records, BMOP/sound, and other labels, covering repertoire spanning over three centuries. His work has also been published in several journals. For several years he taught at Northeastern University and has been invited to give classes and seminars for several New England colleges and for Boston Public Schools.

Robert Kirzinger attended Western Kentucky University, earned his bachelor’s degree in music composition from Carnegie Mellon University, and received his master’s in composition from the New England Conservatory. He is a rock guitarist and performed and recorded experimental industrial music as part of the duo P.Children. His notated music has been performed by some of the best and loveliest musicians in Boston.