David Krakauer

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David Krakauer
David Krakauer at Winter Jazzfest 2013.jpg
David Krakauer at Winter Jazzfest on January 12, 2013
Background information
Birth name David Krakauer
Born (1956-11-22) November 22, 1956 (age 57)
Origin Manhattan, New York, New York, U.S.
Genres Klezmer music, Classical music, Jazz
Occupations Clarinetist, composer
Instruments Clarinet
Labels Label Bleu, Tzadik Records, Table Pounding Records
Associated acts Socalled
Website www.davidkrakauer.com

David Krakauer (born November 22, 1956) is an American clarinetist raised and based in New York, NY. He is known for his work in klezmer music as well as classical music and avant-garde improvisation. He is also considered an accomplished jazz player.[1]


Krakauer's performance career focused on jazz and classical music before he joined the Klezmatics in 1988.[2] He sees klezmer as his "musical home," saying "I can write music within klezmer, improvise, do experimental stuff, be an interpreter and a preservationist. Every side of me can be fulfilled within this form."[2]

In 1996, he formed his own band Klezmer Madness! While firmly rooted in traditional klezmer folk tunes, the band “hurls the tradition of klezmer music into the rock era.”[3] Klezmer Madness! has toured internationally to major venues and festivals including Carnegie Hall, the Library of Congress, Stanford Lively Arts, San Francisco Performances, Hancher Auditorium, the Krannert Center, the Venice Biennale, Krakow Jewish Culture Festival, BBC Proms, Saalfelden Jazz Festival, La Cigale, the Marciac festival, WOMEX, the New Morning in Paris and many others.[4] In 2001, the rapper Socalled gave him an album that blended klezmer and hip-hop rhythms. Impressed by how "clever and funky it was," Krakauer incorporated Socalled into Klezmer Madness!, and the group began attracting a younger audience.[5]

In 2006, Krakauer and Socalled formed the band Abraham Inc. with trombonist Fred Wesley (James Brown, Parliament Funkadelic, Count Basie Orchestra). Abraham Inc.'s music mixes klezmer, funk, and hip hop.[5] The band has performed at The Apollo Theater and Symphony Space in New York, The Krannert Center in Illinois, Hancher Auditorium in Iowa, The Miller Outdoor Theater in Houston, The Strathmore in Maryland, Cal Performances, The Heineken Open’r Festival in Poland, The Cracow Jewish Culture Festival, the Transmusicales de Rennes, and Jazz a la Villette in Paris. Abraham Inc released the album Tweet Tweet in 2009 on Krakauer's own Table Pounding Records label. The album peaked at No. 1 in Funk and No. 1 in Jewish and Yiddish Music, and at No. 35 in music sales on Amazon. It reached No. 7 on Billboard’s Jazz Chart and was featured at No. 40 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart.[4]

Krakauer has performed with orchestras internationally including the Dresdener Philharmonie, the Pacific Symphony, the Weimar Staatskapelle, Detroit Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Colorado Music festival orchestra, Quebec Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, New World Symphony, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Komische Oper orchestra and the Orchestre Lamoureux.[4]

The clarinetist has also collaborated with composer Ofer Ben-Amots. Ben-Amots' composition Klezmer Concerto was specifically written for Krakauer to perform with string orchestra, harp and percussion.[6]

Other career highlights include his partnership with the Kronos Quartet on Osvaldo Golijov’s The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind; touring with the Emerson String Quartet; performing during the inaugural season of Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall with renowned jazz pianist Uri Caine; an eight-year tenure with the Naumburg Award-winning Aspen Wind Quintet; tours with Music from Marlboro; composing the music for Offering, an homage to the victims of September 11 by modern dance duo Eiko and Koma; numerous performances of David Del Tredici's Magyar Madness, commissioned by Music Accord for Krakauer and the Orion String quartet; and performing in the International Emmy Award-winning BBC documentary Holocaust, A Music Memorial from Auschwitz with music by Osvaldo Golijov.[4]

His next project, The Big Picture, is an album and accompanying show re-imagining of familiar themes by film music composers such as John Williams, Marvin Hamlisch, Randy Newman, Wojciech Kilar and Vangelis, as well as melodies by Sidney Bechet, Sergei Prokofiev, Mel Brooks, Ralph Burns, John Kander & Fred Ebb and Jerry Bock that have appeared in popular films with Jewish content, such as Sophie's Choice, Life is Beautiful, The Pianist, and Radio Days. The project intends to explore the emotional relationship between music and movies and moves beyond the classical and klezmer genres with a modernist approach.[7]

Playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner has said "Listening to David Krakauer had a tremendously powerful effect [on me]. It helped me discover Yiddish again, which was hugely important.”[8]


  • Pruflas: The Book of Angels (Tzadik) (2012)
  • The Best of David Krakauer (Label Bleu) (2010)
  • Tweet Tweet - Abraham Inc. (Table Pounding Records) (2009)
  • Moravec: Tempest Fantasy / Mood Swings / B.A.S.S. Variations - Trio Solisti & David Krakauer (Naxos) (2007)
  • Bubbemeises: Lies My Gramma Told Me - David Krakauer & Socalled with Klezmer Madness! (Label Bleu) (2005)
  • Krakauer Live in Krakow - David Krakauer feat Klezmer Madness! & Socalled (Label Bleu) (2004)
  • Music From The Winery (Tzadik) (2004)
  • Klezmer Concertos and Encores (Milken Archive of Jewish Music) (2003)
  • Johannes Brahms - The New York Philomusica Chamber Ensemble (New York Philomusica Records) (2002)
  • The Twelve Tribes - David Krakauer's Klezmer Madness! (Label Bleu) (2001)
  • A New Hot One (Label Bleu) (2000)
  • Klezmer, NY - Klezmer Madness! (Tzadik) (1998)
  • The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind - Kronos Quartet with David Krakauer (Nonesuch Records) (1997)
  • Klezmer Madness! (Tzadik) (1995)

With Anthony Coleman


  1. ^ Cohen, Robyn (July 22, 2012). "Classical, klezmer and crazy". The Weekend Argus. 
  2. ^ a b Mandel, Howard (September 2001). "Vibes from the Tribe: Jewish Identity, Music and Jazz". JazzTimes. Retrieved May 1, 2013. 
  3. ^ Pareles, Jon (20 December 1995). "MUSIC REVIEW;Old and New in a Jewish Festival". The New York Times. p. 11. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Bernstein Artists, Inc: David Krakauer". Retrieved May 1, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Fusilli, Jim (February 2, 2011). "Moving to the Beat of a New Klezmer". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 1, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Ofer Ben-Amots: The Klezmer Concerto". Bernstein Artists, Inc. 2006. Retrieved 6 June 2014. 
  7. ^ "David Krakauer: The Big Picture". Retrieved May 1, 2013. 
  8. ^ Abigail Pogrebin (18 December 2007). Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish. Random House Digital, Inc. ISBN 978-0-307-41932-3. Retrieved 1 May 2013. 

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