The German pianist, Detlef Kraus, made his debut at the age of 16 with the complete Volume 1 and 2 of J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier (BWV 846-869 & BWV 870-893). Following the tradition of Edwin Fischer, Walter Gieseking and especially Wilhelm Kempff, who was his main mentor for many years, Kraus became a master of the classical and romantic repertoire, performing a broad range of music including the complete L.v. Beethoven sonatas and specifically the works of Johannes Brahms in the world's major music centers.
As a soloist with prestigious orchestras he performed with such distinguished conductors as Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Ferenc Fricsay, Eugen Jochum, Josef Keilberth, Hans Knappertsbusch, Kurt Masur, Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt and Wolfgang Sawallisch. His four-recital cycle of the complete piano works of J. Brahms was recorded in New York by National Public Radio and has been broadcast frequently in the USA. He also performed in Tokyo, London, and Berlin. CD recordings of the complete piano works of J. Brahms on the Thorofon label won the highest praise from the international press. Other recordings included sonatas by Haydn and works by Schubert and Schumann. A particularly praised LP-recording of works by L.v. Beethoven with the title 'Der heitere Beethoven', originally issued on the Philips label, was re-released on CD in 1989.
As President of the Johannes-Brahms-Gesellschaft (International Johannes Brahms Society) in Hamburg since 1982, Detlef Kraus was responsible for the initiation of the International Brahms Competition conducted for the first time one year later. After his retirement he was the honorary president of the Society. He taught piano at the Konservatorium Osnabruck and the Folkwanghochschule in Essen. Among his pupils: the composer Friedrich Zehm and the pianists Tobias Bigger, Klaus Hellwig and Tjako van Schie. At 85 years of age, he was still active as a performer and teacher, giving concerts in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Japan. In 2000 he was invited to give a master-class at The International Holland Music Sessions (TIHMS) and he returned in 2005 as a special honored guest. During the last decennium Kraus wrote a great many articles concerning J. Brahms (published by Hans Schneider, Tutzing) and a book about the interpretation of the works of J. Brahms (F. Noetzel-Verlag, Heinrichshofen), which was translated into English and Japanese (Ongaku no tomo).
Detlef Kraus was awarded the Brahms-Prize of the city of Hamburg in 1975, and the Brahms-Prize of the Brahms Society of Schleswig-Holstein in 1997. He died on January 7, 2008, of heart failure at the age of 88.