Kendra Preston Leonard is a musicologist and music theorist whose work focuses on women and music in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; and music and screen history, particularly music and adaptations of Shakespeare; and a librettist and poet. She is the author of five scholarly books and numerous book chapters and articles. Her work has appeared in The Oxford Handbook of Music and Disability Studies, Gender and Song in Early Modern England, This Rough Magic, Upstart Crow, Early Modern Studies Journal, The Journal of Historical Biography, The Journal of Musicological Research, and Current Musicology, among other journals and collections. She is the winner of several scholarly awards and prizes, including the Rudolph Ganz Long-Term Fellowship at the Newberry Library, a Harry Ransom Center Research Fellowship, an American Music Research Center Fellowship, the inaugural Judith Tick Fellowship from the Society for American Music, and Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Thornton Wilder Fellowship in Wilder Studies. She is the Director of the Silent Film Sound and Music Archive.
Dr. Leonard is the 2017-18 Rudolph Ganz Long-Term Fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago. Past awards and fellowships include the American Musicological Society’s 2016 Janet Levy Award; the Society for American Music‘s 2016 Sight and Sound subvention for her collaborative project with the Silent Film Sound and Music Archive and pianist Ethan Uslan; a 2016 American Music Research Center Fellowship; and a 2016-2017 Harry Ransom Center Research Fellowship in the Humanities.
Dr. Leonard’s poetry has appeared in vox poetica, lunch, These Fragile Lilacs, and Upstart: Out of Sequence: The Sonnets Remixed, among other venues. Marie Curie Learns to Swim, a one-act chamber opera with a libretto by Dr. Leonard and music by composer Jessica Rudman, will receive its premiere by the Hartford Opera Theater on 28 April 2018; Leonard and Rudman’s “Four Songs for Lady Macbeth” are also on the program.
Recent and Upcoming Scholarly Publications, Presentations, and Projects
co-chair, with Paul Allen Sommerfeld, “Music and Horror,” 2019 Society for American Music Seminar, 20-24 March 2019, New Orleans.
“Haunted Scores: Music and Ghosts in Early Cinema,” Association for the Study of Esotericism 2018, 24-27 May 2018, Rice University, Houston, Texas.
“Musical Mimesis in Orphans of the Storm,” Music Theory Online (forthcoming)
“Women at the Pedals: Female Cinema Musicians During the Great War,” Over Here, Over There: Transatlantic Conversations on the Music of World War I, ed. William Brooks, Christina Bashford, and Gayle Magee, University of Illinois Press (forthcoming).
“The Gothic and Music: Scoring ‘Silent’ Spectres,” The Gothic and the Arts, ed. David Punter, University of Edinburgh Press (forthcoming).
‘The Wild West meets the Wives of Windsor: Shakespeare and Music in the Mythological American West,” Re-Locating the Sounds of the Western, ed. Mariana Whitmer and Kendra Preston Leonard, Ashgate (forthcoming).
“Cue Sheets, Musical Suggestions, and Performance Practices for Hollywood Films, 1908-1927,” Music in Silent Cinema, ed. Ruth Barton and Simon Trezise, Routledge (forthcoming).
“Shakespeare’s Second Line,” Borrowers and Lenders, special issue on Shakespeare and jazz, edited by Stephen Buhler (forthcoming).
Contributing co-editor with Mariana Whitmer, Re-Locating the Sounds of the Western, Ashgate Publishing (forthcoming).
“Living in Fire,” Medieval Marks, ed. Karra Shimabukuro, Punctum (forthcoming).
Works in Progress
“Alice Smythe Jay, ‘Tipperary,’ and ‘Yakima’: An Early Case of Forensic Musicology” (article)
Music for the Kingdom of Shadows: Cinema Accompaniment in the Age of Spiritualism (ebook currently under open peer review; visit to read and offer feedback)
“Projection, Erasure, and Recovery: Women in Silent Film Music” (digital history project)
“Nostalgia and Cultural Memory in Scoring for The General (1927)”
Fontainebleau Chansons (lyrics) for composer Jena Root and soprano Margaret O’Connell
Sans Merci (working title; opera libretto about Lili and Nadia Boulanger for composer Jessica Rudman)
Leonard’s ORCID is 0000-0003-3005-4344, and you can also follow and engage with her work at Humanities Commons.