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Kenneth Leighton Archive

Identifier: Coll-1144

Scope and Contents

This archive consists mainly of Leighton's original music scores and sketches, as well as four large boxes of reel-to-reel tapes and vinyles. See the box list for an inventory of every piece.


  • Creation: 1946-1988


Conditions Governing Access

Mostly open, although the tapes and vinyles are in formats which are not currently accessible. Please contact the repository in advance.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright rests with the Leighton Estate.

Biographical / Historical

Kenneth Leighton was born in October 1929 in Wakefield, Yorkshire, in a working-class family. He showed an interest in music very early on, so he was enrolled as a chorister at Wakefield Cathedral by his parents, and began piano lessons. He also composed settings of poetry for voice and piano and solo pieces as a teenager. In 1946 he obtained the Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music (LRAM) in piano performance, and then went on to study Classics and Music in Queen’s College, Oxford. In 1950 he gained a BA in Classics, and in 1951 the Oxford Bachelor of Music.

Leighton continued to accumulate successes, and was awarded the Mendelssohn Scholarship in 1951, which enabled him to study with Goffredo Petrassi in Rome. After his return from Italy, he started his career as a teacher and composer. He taught briefly at the Royal Marine School of Music in Deal in 1952, before being awarded a Gregory Fellowship in music from 1953-56 at the University of Leeds. In 1956, he was appointed Lecturer, then Reader, at the University of Edinburgh, where he stayed until 1968 when he moved to Oxford University to succeed Edmund Rubbra as Fellow in Music of Worcester College. He returned to Edinburgh as Reid Professor of Music in 1970, holding the chair until his death in 1988, of oesophageal cancer.


23 boxes

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired in 2008. Accession no E2008.28.

Related Materials

Simon J. Anderson, "Kenneth Leighton 1929-1988: An assessment of his sacred choral compositions" (unpublished Master's thesis, University of Edinburgh, 1991). Available on ERA at [accessed 22 June 2021].

Processing Information

ArchivesSpace resource created by ALine Brodin in July 2019, drawing upon an existing box list.

Kenneth Leighton Archive, 1946-1988
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379