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 Executive Director of the Silent Film Sound and Music Archive.
Dr. Leonard was the 2017-18 Rudolph Ganz Long-Term Fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago. Other 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, was premiered by the Hartford Opera Theater on 28 April 2018; Leonard and Rudman’s “Four Songs for Lady Macbeth” were also on the program. With composer Jena Root and soprano Margaret O’Connell, Leonard is collaborating on a work called Fontainebleau Chansons for the 100th anniversary of the Conservatoire Américain de Fontainebleau in 2021.
Recent and Upcoming Scholarly Publications, Presentations, and Projects
Interview with Caitlin Duffy of Humanities Commons
Review: Recomposing the Past: Early Music on Stage and Screen, NABMSA Reviews 5, no. 2 (Fall 2018).
Article: “Performing Spiritualism in the Silent Cinema,” Performance, Religion, and Spirituality, 1.2 (October 2018).
Review: The A-R Online Music Textbook and Anthology, AMS Pedagogy Study Group.
Co-chair, with Paul Allen Sommerfeld, “Music and Horror” seminar, Society for American Music annual meeting, 20-24 March 2019, New Orleans.
“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).
“Cue Sheets, Musical Suggestions, and Performance Practices for Hollywood Films, 1908-1927,” Music in Silent Cinema, ed. Ruth Barton and Simon Trezise, Routledge (forthcoming 2018).
“Shakespeare’s Second Line,” Borrowers and Lenders, special issue on Shakespeare and jazz, edited by Stephen Buhler (forthcoming).
Recent Creative Works
“My Mother is a Poem by Yeats,” Wordgathering 12, no. 4 (December 2018).
“Invasive Species,” Infinite Rust (October 2018)
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)”
SHEAF: Shakespeare in Early Film database
Sans Merci (working title; opera libretto about Lili and Nadia Boulanger for composer Jessica Rudman)
From Wild Sleeping Waters (eight poems for a song cycle by Jessica Rudman)
Tobermory (opera libretto based on the short story by Saki for Edward Caine)
All of the Leaves (three poems for a song cycle by Jen Wang)
Leonard’s ORCID is 0000-0003-3005-4344, and you can also follow and engage with her work at Humanities Commons CORE.