Revered pianist and author Charles Rosen has died at the age of 85.

Rosen lost his two-year battle with cancer at the Mount Sinai hospital in New York on Sunday (09Dec12), according to his London-based agents, Owen White International Artist Management.

Born in New York, Rosen began his music career when his parents enrolled him at the prestigious Juilliard School at age six and he later earned a doctorate in French Literature at Princeton University.

His love of contemporary music brought him into close collaboration with a number of notable 20th century composers, including Milton Babbitt, Pierre Boulez and the late Elliott Carter.

Rosen's many honours include the National Book Award in 1972 for The Classical Style, which focuses on the music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, and is considered essential reading for classical music scholars.

In February (12), Rosen was presented with the National Humanities Medal by U.S. President Barack Obama in recognition of his "rare ability to join artistry to the history of culture and ideas" at a ceremony at the White House, at which Al Pacino and singer Mel Tillis were also honoured.

Rosen held a number of academic posts during his career, including the Charles Eliot Norton Chair of Poetics at Harvard University and positions at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and the University of Chicago.

A statement on his management's official website reads, "Owen White Management is sorry to anounce (sic) that Charles Rosen died on 9 December 2012 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. He will be greatly missed."