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Robert Craft (Conductor)

Born: October 20, 1923 - Kingston, New-York, USA
Died: November 10, 2015 - Gulf Stream, Florida, USA

The American conductor and writer on music, Robert (Lawson) Craft, studied at the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y. (B.A., 1946) and the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood. He also took courses in conducting with Pierre Monteux.

In 1947 Robert Craft conducted the New York Brass and Woodwind Ensemble. He was conductor of the Evenings-on-the-Roof and the Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles (1950-1968). He became particularly interested in early music by the likes of Claudio Monteverdi and Heinrich Schütz, and contemporary music by the composers of the Second Viennese School and others.

A decisive turn in Robert Craft’s career was his encounter with Igor Stravinsky in 1948, whom he greatly impressed by his precise knowledge of I. Stravinsky's music; gradually he became I. Stravinsky's closest associate. He was also instrumental in persuading I. Stravinsky to adopt the 12-tone method of composition, a momentous turn in I. Stravinsky's creative path. He collaborated with I. Stravinsky on 6 vols. of a catechumenical and discursive nature: Conversations with Igor Stravinsky (New York, 1959); Memories and Commentaries (N.Y., 1960); Expositions and Developments (New York, 1962); Dialogues and a Diary (New York, 1963); Themes and Episodes (New York, 1967); Retrospections and Conclusions (New York, 1969). Resentful of frequent referral to him as a musical Boswell, Craft insists that his collaboration with I. Stravinsky was more akin to that between the Goncourt brothers, both acting and reacting to an emerging topic of discussion, with I. Stravinsky evoking his ancient memories in his careful English, or fluent French, spiced with unrestrained discourtesies toward professional colleagues on the American scene, and Craft reifying the material with an analeptic bulimia of quaquaversal literary , psychological, physiological, and culinary references in a flow of finely ordered dialogue.

Robert Craft conducted most of the world's major orchestras in the USA (New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra), Canada, Europe, Russia, Japan, Korea, Mexico South America, Australia, and New Zealand. He is the first American to conduct Alban Berg's Wozzeck and Lulu. He led the world premieres of I. Stravinsky's later masterpieces: Von Himmel hoch, Agon, The Flood, Abraham and Isaac, Variations (Chicago Symphony), Introitus, and Requiem Canticles.

Within his career to date Robert Craft is a two-time recipient of the prestigious Grand Prix du Disque, as well as the Edison Prize for his recordings of music by Varese and I. Stravinsky.

Robert Craft’s other publications include Prejudices in Disguise (New York, 1974); Stravinsky in Photographs and Documents (with Vera Stravinsky; London, 1976; New York, 1978); Current Convictions: Views and Reviews (New York, 1977); Present Perspectives (New York, 1984); Stravinsky: Glimpses of a Life (New York, 1992). He also translated and edited Stravinsky, Selected Correspondence {2 vols., New York, 1982, 1984).


Source: Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997); Robert Craft Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (July 2004, April 2017)

Robert Craft: Short Biography | Columbia Symphony Orchestra | Recordings of Vocal Works | Recordings of Instrumental Works

Links to other Sites

Robert Craft - Conductor - Author – Musician (Official Website)

Robert Craft - encyclopedia article about Robert Craft
Robert Craft Information Page (Perfect Pitch People)

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Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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