The prominent American composer, teacher and author Kent Kennan was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 18 April 1913. He studied at the University of Michigan and the Eastman School of Music. His Symphony won the Prix de Rome in 1936, leading to three years in Europe, mostly at Rome's American Academy, and lessons with Pizzetti. The beginning of Kennan's long connection with the University of Texas - he began teaching there in 1940 - was interrupted by the war. After a brief spell at Ohio State University, he returned to Texas in 1949, where he taught counterpoint, orchestration and composition, wrote two very successful textbooks: The Technique of Orchestration (1952) and Counterpoint (1959), and became Professor of Music Emeritus. He was also graduate adviser to and chairman of the School of Music, and he continued to teach young composers after his retirement in 1983.
Kennan's many works have been widely published and performed. The best known is Night Soliloquy, played by all the major American orchestras, and recorded on six different labels. Other pieces include the Sonata for Trumpet and Piano, Three Pieces for Orchestra, Threnody and twelve Retrospectives for piano.
Awards include the E William Doty Award (2001) from the University of Texas, its highest honour.
Kent Kennan died in Austin, Texas on 1 November 2003, aged ninety.