Eugene Lehner (1906–1997) taught at NEC from 1960 through the 1997 spring semester. A student of Jenö Hubay and Zoltan Kodály, Lehner was heard by Béla Bartók at an early age and encouraged to persevere in a musical career. He had parallel careers in chamber music (Kolisch, Stradivarious, and Boston Fine Arts quartets) and as a section player in the Boston Symphony Orchestra (1939–82). When Lehner approached BSO music director Serge Koussevitzky for a job on the eve of World War II, Koussevitzky hired him into the orchestra without an audition, having heard him perform in Germany.
Lehner devoted a significant portion of his life to educating young musicians. Among the string quartets to benefit from his expertise were NEC's Quartet-in-Residence, the Borromeo String Quartet.
Writing in NEC's Notes magazine on music-making and -teaching, he offered this aphorism:
Want to teach: learn!
Want to learn: teach!
Laurence Lesser said of Lehner:
When I became president of NEC in 1983, I found in our midst two living national/cultural treasures: Louis Krasner and Eugene Lehner. They were the essential flame of our chamber music department, and each an important link to the great composers of the early part of this century. Lehner was personally involved with Bartók, Webern, and Schoenberg; he played the first performance of the Bartók Sixth Quartet, dedicated to the Kolisch Quartet. He brought that important link to the past and a very deep and humane understanding of the art of music.