Born in Los Angeles in 1946, Daniel Kessner studied with Henri Lazarof at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he received his Ph.D. with Distinction in 1971. In 1970, he was appointed to the music faculty of California State University, Northridge. He is currently Emeritus Professor of Music, retired in 2006. He remains active as a composer, flutist, and conductor.

Biographical articles appear in at least 15 reference works, the most important of which are The Grove Dictionary of American Music, Second Edition (Oxford University Press, 2013) Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians (New York), The International Who's Who in Music and Musicians' Directory (Cambridge, England), Dictionary of International Biography (Cambridge, England), Who's Who in the West (Chicago), Contemporary American Composers (Boston), and Who's Who in American Music; Classical (New York).




To date he has produced more than 160 compositions, including 15 orchestral works, 9 choral and stage works, 11 pieces for symphonic band, more than 70 works for various chamber ensembles, solos, and duos.


27 of his compositions have been issued on recordings:

Chamber Concerto No. 1 (1972) on "The Contemporary Soprano," Orion Master Recordings ORS 78302

Equali II (1970) on "Los Angeles: Music from the 60s and Beyond," Orion Master Recordings ORS 80397

Circle Music II (1985) and Intersonata (1987), Centaur Recordings CRC 2234

Circle Music I-B (1986), Capstone Records CPS 8628

Lyric Piece for Piano and Orchestra (1994) on "Tonus Tomis," Capstone Records CPS 8627

Icoane Româneşti; Images of Romania (1996) on "Black Sea Idyll," Capstone Records CPS 8648

Two Visions (1991) on "Elan," North/South Recordings N/S R 1020

Studies in Melodic Expression on "Soliloquy," Centaur Recordings CRC 2426

Prière et scherzo (2000), Simple Motion (1993), In the Center (2000), Tous les matins ... (1997), and String Quartet (1990) on "In the Center; Daniel Kessner at Forfest," Capstone Records CPS 8704

Piano Sonata I-B on "Contemporary Eclectic Music for the Piano," Jeffrey Jacob, piano, New Ariel Recordings AE 007

Circling on Centaur Records CRC 2861; Dances for Clarinet and Guitar on Crystal Records CD 301.

String Quartet No. 2 (2004), Natural Cycles (2006), Toccata for Piano (2007), Genera (2002), and String Quartet No. 3 on "Daniel Kessner: Chamber and Solo Works," Centaur Recordings CRC 3134

Undercurrent/Current (2008) on "New York Moments," The Tapestry Ensemble; Navona Records NV 5888.

Reverberance (2005), Sonata for Violin and Piano (2012), String Quartet No. 4 (2007), Tornando al Mare (Returning to the Sea) (2007), and Suite for Four Guitars (2012) on "Travelogue; Daniel Kessner, Chamber Music III," Centaur Records CRC 3478, released June 10, 2016

Nearly all of his scores are now published by Universal Edition in Vienna, and are available on their website:

His compositions have received numerous prizes, the most important of which are the Queen Marie-José International Composition Prize (Geneva, 1972), two Broadcast Music Prizes (New York, 1970 & 1971), four CSUN President's Associates Prizes for Creative Achievement (1975, 1989, 1994, 2001), selection as one of three winners of the New Works for Music Theater Project, an international competition co-sponsored by the Netherlands Opera Foundation, Utrecht Symphony Orchestra, Gaudeamus Foundation, and Holland Festival (Amsterdam, 1980), and most recently winner of the Music08/eighth blackbird Composition Competition 2008, Cincinnati.

He was appointed Fulbright Senior Scholar in 2003 to lecture and perform at the Musikhochschule in Trossingen, Germany. In 2007 he received a Fulbright Senior Specialist Grant for a two-week residency at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. In 2011 he received a second Fulbright Specialist Grant for a 15-day residency at the Universidade do Minho in Braga, Portugal.

For his compositions, he has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (1974, 1977), the American Music Center (New York, 1981), Arts International (1996), and the CSUN Office of Research and Sponsored Projects (1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1992, 1997, 2001, and 2003). Fourteen individual pieces have been commissioned by organizations and performers including The Chamber Ensemble of St. Luke's (New York, 1991), the College Band Directors National Association (1973 & 1996) the Jugendorchester "Nota Bene" (Zurich, 1998), the National Flute Association (Washington DC, 2015), and the Maîtrise de la Perverie (Nantes, France, 2016).

His works have received over 900 public performances throughout the Americas, Canada, Asia, and Europe.




Kessner has appeared three times as Guest Conductor of the Black Sea Philharmonic of Constanţa, Romania, and he has conducted six concerts with the Black Sea New Music Ensemble during Romanian-American Music Days. He also conducted five concerts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group during the 1984 through 1991 seasons, including the West Coast Premiere of Elliott Carter's In Sleep, In Thunder, and individual concerts with the Eastman Wind Ensemble, the Orchestra of the Universidade do Minho, the Monday Evening Concerts Ensemble (Los Angeles), the North/South Consonance Ensemble (New York), and many others. He made his first appearance as Guest Conductor of the Louisiana Sinfonietta in November of 1999. He is also the Founder and former Director of The Discovery Players (formerly the New Music Ensemble) of California State University, Northridge, with whom he presented more than one hundred concerts since 1970. For the Spring 2005 semester he was appointed Guest Conductor of the Moorpark Symphony Orchestra.

In 2010, he inaugurated the ensemble TEMPO (The Epicenter Music Performance Organization), with which he remained until 2015.




Following many years as a chamber musician, primarily as a clarinetist, his recent activities have focused upon the flute, alto flute, and bass flute as solo instruments. His first flute-piano recital was at the Festival de Música Contemporánea de El Salvador in 1996, and in recent years he has performed as soloist in festivals in Céret (France), Constanţa (Romania), Kroměříž (Czech Republic), Darmstadt (Germany), and he has given recitals for the Portsmouth District Composers' Alliance in London, at Brooklands College, Weybridge (England), the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik Trossingen, the Goethe Institut Inter Nationes in Prien-am-Chiemsee (Germany), l’église Saint-Merry and the American Church in Paris, on the Interensemble concert series in Padua (Italy), a flute-guitar recital in San Salvador, and flute recitals on the Louisiana Sinfonietta Solo Series, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, at the Universidade do Minho, the Conservatório de Música do Porto, and the Clube Literário do Porto in Portugal.




Over the past three decades he has gained extensive experience in concert production, organization, and administration. In addition to his duties with his The Discovery Players at CSUN, he has produced numerous concerts for many other organizations, including the National Association of Composers/USA and the College Music Society. He also served as Artistic Director of the Music on Main concert series at the Santa Monica Heritage Museum, 1987-1990, and in 1997 and 1998 he served as American Artistic Director of Romanian-American Music Days. He has served as National President of the National Association of Composers/USA as well as President of the Los Angeles Chapter. He was Co-Founder/Co-Director of TEMPO [The Epicenter Music Performance Organization], leading the ensemble from 2010 to 2015.




Since 1983 he has been a regular lecturer on the Los Angeles Philharmonic's pre-concert series "Upbeat Live" and "Symphony Preview," having given more than 150 lectures to date. He has also made numerous appearances on the "Composition Forum" series at the University of Southern California, and given individual lectures for the Pasadena Symphony, Orange County Performing Arts Center, Festival Spaziomusica in Cagliari, Sardinia (in Italian), Rencontres Internationales Musicales en Catalogne, Céret, France (in French), and the Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institut Tübingen. He has also done numerous programs and interviews on various radio stations in the U.S. and Europe, including three appearances on KFAC's "Luncheon at the Music Center." In 1989, he served as Guest Artist at CSU Summer Arts in Northern California.