David Leisner

David Leisner

1958 -

David Leisner maintains a dual career as both guitarist and composer.


The audio selections in the player to the right are used with the permission of the composer. Please visit the entries for the individual songs for performer names. To listen, please click on the track name itself.


Born and raised in Los Angeles, he moved to the East Coast in 1971 to attend Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where his composition teacher was Richard Winslow. He later worked privately with Virgil Thomson, Charles Turner and David Del Tredici. While his early musical interests involved folk/popular song, choral singing and choral conducting, his talent as a classical guitarist took prominence, and an international career ensued. Although composing was a part of his life since the age of 15, it did not take firmer hold until the period of 1984-96, when Leisner had focal dystonia, a debilitating hand condition that stopped his performance career in those years. During that time, his composition activities increased in amount, breadth and quality. After a remarkable self-induced recovery in 1996, his guitar-playing career successfully resumed, while maintaining consistent activity in composition. From his earliest song efforts in popular music until today, vocal music has played a central role in Leisner’s composition catalog.

While a number of his vocal works are with guitar (which he asserts is a natural and under-recognized combination), many are also with piano, as well as other instrumental combinations. For texts, he turns most often to American poets. Examples are: Confiding (Emily Dickinson, Elissa Ely, Gene Scaramellino and the British Emily Brontë), To Sleep (Elizabeth Bishop), Three James Tate Songs, Fidelity (May Sarton, Walt Whitman, Kenneth Patchen, William Meredith, Wendell Berry, Leslie Marmon Silko), Of Darkness and Light (Wendell Berry) for tenor, violin, oboe and piano, A Timeless Procession (Rosemary Thomas) for baritone and string quartet, Outdoor Shadows (Robert Francis), Simple Songs (Emily Dickinson) and West Wind (Mary Oliver). His songs have found favor with singers worldwide.

He has received composition grants from the American Music Center, the Alice M. Ditson Fund, the New England Foundation for the Arts and Meet the Composer. His works are published by Theodore Presser Co., G. Schirmer, Doberman-Yppan and Columbia Music.


Songs & Song Collections BY Leisner (entered to date)

Audio PLaylist

CD / DVD / MP3