Kevin Salfen - Composer, Scholar, Writer

On the beach, Aldeburgh, England (2014)

Brief Bio:

Kevin Salfen is Associate Professor of Music at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. He has degrees in composition and musicology from the University of North Texas. Salfen has presented papers at the annual meeting of the American Musicological Society and numerous other conferences, and his work on Benjamin Britten has appeared in "Music & Letters" and "19th-Century Music."

His compositions have been performed in England, China, and throughout the United States, and his "New Year Canticles" were performed at the National Cathedral in Washington, D. C. in July 2016. Salfen is a member of the international troupe Theatre Nohgaku, and he has performed several nô. He was executive producer of "Where Rivers Meet," a project that culminated in the November 2015 performances of "Sumidagawa," Britten's "Curlew River," and a newly commissioned interlude by Texas Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla for which he wrote the music.

Recent Works:
--"How Great Thou Art," arr. (2017), for choir (SATB) and organ; written and performed for the visit to San Antonio of The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.
--Preces and Responses (2017), for choir (SATB) and organ.
--"New Year Canticles" (2015), I. Magnificat, II. Nunc dimittis, for choir (SATB) and organ; performed at the National Cathedral, Washington, D. C., in July 2016, by the Choir of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, dir. Russell Jackson (with organist Robert McCormick).
--"Super flumina Babylonis" (2015), a Psalm-Mandala (setting of the Latin version of Psalm 137 and excerpts from the journal of Jonathan Trouern-Trend, U. S. Marine stationed in Iraq), for tenor solo and SSAATTBB; premiered in October 2015 by Richard Novak (tenor) and choir under the direction of William Gokelman.

--"Song Cycle for Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes" (2017), for mezzo-soprano, tenor, and piano: I. Prologue, II. Epithalamium, III. War, IV. Wake, V. Remembrance and Epilogue.
--"Psalm-Trope for a Cloudless Brightness" (2016), for soprano and piano (on the Latin version of Psalm 8, an excerpt from Primo Levi’s “If This Is a Man,” and W. H. Auden’s poem “Make this night lovable, Moon”; premiered by YooSun Na (voice) and Ara Koh (piano).
--"Song of the Yanaguana River," a “Texas kyogen” by 2015 Texas Poet Laureate Carmen Tafolla, with music by Kevin Salfen. Premiered November 2015 as the interlude for "Where Rivers Meet."
--Three Songs from Sonnets to Human Beings (2012), premiered in 2013 by Jennifer Piazza-Pick (voice) and Ray Tamez (guitar) on concert Poemas y Música: A Celebration of Carmen Tafolla, San Antonio’s First Poet Laureate.
--"Icarus" (2012), one-act music theatre work inspired by Japanese noh theater; libretto by Elise Forier-Edie, music by Kevin Salfen. Premiered at Central Washington University in production under the direction of George Bellah III. Selected as featured production for Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Region VII (March 2013).

Solo Piano:
--"A Flat Accident" (2014), available for purchase in Made in SA: A Piano Book Series (Book II):
--"Blue Music Box Addition" (2014)
--"Dust Devil in an Empty Lot" (2014), available for purchase in Made in SA: A Piano Book Series (Book III):
--"Ice Crystals in the Night Sky" (2014)
--"Lonely Stroll, Autumn Garden" (2014)
--Piano Sonata No. 1 “Steppenwolf” (1997)

--"Skyscraper Serenade" (2017), for piano, four hands; performed for “Made in SA III: Music Composed for and Performed by Young SA Pianists.”
--"Two Inventions on a Theme" (2015), I. Canonade, II. Recitative and Aria after Plath and Hughes, for flute and clarinet. Premiered in May 2015 by Laura Salfen (flute) and Gary Fair (clarinet) on concert "Bells and Whistles."
--Sonata for Cello and Piano (1999), I. The World Inside, II. The World Outside.
--Flute Sonata No. 1 (1999).

To request music, please contact Kevin Salfen at


Piano Sonata No. 1 "Steppenwolf," I. "Steppenwolf"
Inspired by Hermann Hesse's novel, this three-movement piano sonata explores a lyrical serialism shot through with references to jazz and Mozart. The first movement is a sort of character study of the novel's protagonist, Harry Haller. (Emily Boyce, piano)
Sonata for Cello and Piano, I. "The World Inside"
The meditative first movement of a two-movement cello sonata, in a live performance by Shea Kole (cello) and Emily Boyce (piano).
Plea for Good Karma in a Bad Year
"Give me the good side of karma, Or sink me in Lethe's dark water."
Lonely Stroll, Autumn Garden
A piece intended for young pianists. Performed by Dr. Ara Koh, piano.