Mendelssohn recommended Kirchner for his first position as organist at Winterthur in Switzerland, where he worked for almost twenty years. He returned often to Germany and was friendly with Brahms and with Robert and Clara Schumann.
From 1862 he lived in Zurich. He was director of the subscription concerts for a few years, taught at the music school, and was organist there from 1870.
From 1872 he returned to Germany and was court pianist in Meiningen, director of the Conservatory in Würzburg, then taught score-reading in Dresden. He moved to Hamburg in 1890, suffered two strokes in 1894, and was completely blind by the time of his death in Hamburg on 18 September 1903, aged seventy-nine.
CD Spotlight. Remarkable Expressiveness - Piano transcriptions by Kirchner, Reger and Brahms, reviewed by Gerald Fenech. 'Uriel Tsachor performs these ingenious pieces with a poetic brilliance that is consistently arresting ...'