Stanley Leonard, timpanist, composer and educator, has been an active participant in the world of percussion for over sixty-five years. He performed as percussionist with the Kansas City Philharmonic, the Rochester Philharmonic, the Nineteenth Army Band, and had a distinguished thirty-eight year career as Principal Timpanist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. His career has included international concert performances, television series, solo appearances with the Symphony, two world premier performances of commissioned works, as well as two American premieres. He performed with the PSO on more than fifty recordings. Pittsburgh Symphony Music Directors were consistent in their appreciation of Stanley's artistry. William Steinberg stated, "He is the number one man in the orchestra, the embodiment of tympanum playing." Andre Previn said, "He is not only a virtuoso timpanist but a consummate musician." When Stanley retired, Lorin Maazel commented, "He is a hard man to replace."
During the Pittsburgh years, Stanley taught percussion, timpani, and percussion ensemble at Carnegie Mellon University. He held this position for twenty years, later assuming responsibilities at Duquesne University as Adjunct Professor of Percussion. His students have found places in the performing world, education, and the music industry.
Starting his university teaching career in 1958, Stanley discovered a shortage of music for students to use for technical study and ensemble performance. He began writing technical studies, etudes, solos for snare drum, timpani, and percussion ensemble music. Established publishers in the United States and Europe became interested in his music, and over forty of his works are now published by many publishers and performed worldwide. Forty-seven more pieces are listed in the Stanley Leonard Percussion Music catalog. He is the author of the well known method Pedal Technique for the Timpani. Stanley is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. He performs and conducts his percussion compositions on CDs, including Canticle, Collage, Reunion, and Acclamation.
Stanley attended the Eastman School of Music and studied with William Street, graduating in 1954 with a Bachelor of Music degree and Performers Certificate in Percussion. He was a charter member of the first Eastman Wind Ensemble, founded in 1952 by Frederick Fennel, and has maintained personal relationships with former classmates and colleagues, including John Beck, Gordon Peters, and Mitchell Peters. Stanley and his wife, Margaret, sponsored the Eastman Leonard Commission for a new solo work for timpani and orchestra in 1991 and the Stanley and Margaret Leonard Collection of Percussion Instruments for the school in 2007. They also commissioned a solo piece for timpani and wind ensemble at Duquesne University.
Stanley remains active in the percussion world in his retirement. Stanley is resident timpanist, composer, and hand bell director at Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church in Naples, Florida. Percussion Summit performances in Naples have included his works commissioned by the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts, where he has also appeared as a soloist with members of the Naples Philharmonic. Stanley has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) and as a member of the PAS Symphonic Committee. He is listed in the PAS Hall of Fame, and has participated in the Percussive Arts Society International Conventions (PASIC). He has presented master classes at conservatories and universities throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.
Recitative and Scherzo was commissioned and premiered by Ronald Horner with the Percussion Ensemble of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Gary Olmstead conducting, on November 17, 1998. The music begins with a short solo recitative and continues with dialogue between the solo timpani and the ensemble. A rhythmic fragment containing five beats is...
The word Kymbalon in Greek can be translated as cymbal. I have always been fascinated by the sounds of these metallic instruments and the mysticism that is sometimes attached to them by different cultures. I focused on writing a piece using a variety of cymbals, gongs, and tam tams in relative harmonic relationships. After some thought I realized that...
Based on the hymn "Lasst uns erfreuen," Alleluia is a joyous duet for organ and timpani, perfect for any church service or recital. The melodic timpani part is rather challenging with pitch changes required throughout. This piece will be enjoyed by audiences and congregations alike.
Six Bagatelles was written in 1986 for and premiered by Frank Epstein and the percussion ensemble of the New England Conservatory of Music. This is a newly revised and edited version of the original. It may be performed in its entirety or in various combinations of any lesser number of movements.
Collage demonstrates, again, my view of writing for solo timpani: music in a quasi melodic fashion utilizing the pedals for more than just changing pitches. The title, Collage, refers to music in the slow section that hints at timpani solos appearing in well-known orchestral works. The references are not exact statements but will be recognized by the...