David Krakauer

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David Krakauer
Photo - Festival de Cornouaille 2014 - David Krakauer en concert le 24 juillet - 001.jpg
David Krakauer at Festival de Cornouaille on july 24, 2014
Background information
Birth nameDavid Krakauer
Born (1956-11-22) November 22, 1956 (age 62)
OriginManhattan, New York, New York, U.S.
GenresKlezmer music, Classical music, Jazz
Occupation(s)Clarinetist, composer
LabelsLabel Bleu, Tzadik Records, Table Pounding Records
Associated actsSocalled

David Krakauer (born September 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, Kraków 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 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]

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.”[7]

Osvaldo Golijov's The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind[edit]

Krakauer partnered with the Kronos Quartet for the premiere recording of Osvaldo Golijov's The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind,[8] released in 1997 on Nonesuch Records.[9] Though the original composition was created for clarinet with string quartet, Golijov created an orchestral arrangement for the conductor-less chamber orchestra A Far Cry. The premiere orchestral recording was created with Krakauer as featured soloist and included on A Far Cry's 2014 album Dreams & Prayers,[10] which was nominated in the Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance category of the 57th GRAMMY Awards.[11]

The Big Picture[edit]

Krakauer's album The Big Picture, which re-imagined themes from films such as Sophie's Choice, Life is Beautiful, The Pianist, and Radio Days, was released in North America on February 18, 2014.[12] The album received 4.5 stars from Bill Milkowski at The Absolute Sound,,[13] 4 stars from All About Jazz,[14] and was a DownBeat Magazine Editors' Pick.[15]

The accompanying show features original graphic projections by New York City visual-effects firm Light of Day[16] and premiered with an eight show run at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City.[17]

Ancestral Groove[edit]

Krakauer's album Checkpoint with his 4-piece band Ancestral Groove was released in Europe on March 3, 2014 on Label Bleu. The band supported the album with concerts throughout Europe, including a performance at the grand opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews on October 29, 2014.[18]


  • Dreams & Prayers - A Far Cry with David Krakauer (Crier Records) (2014)
  • Checkpoint - Krakauer's Ancestral Groove (Label Bleu) (2014)
  • The Big Picture (Table Pounding Records) (2014)
  • The Hours Begin to Sing (PENTATONE) (2013)
  • 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" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 22, 2013. 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. Archived from the original on 6 June 2014. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Anderson, Porter (October 3, 2014). "Music For Writers: Krakauer The Klezmer On 'Isaac The Blind'". Thought Catalog. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  9. ^ "Golijov: The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind". Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  10. ^ "STORY — Dreams & Prayers". Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  11. ^ "Grammys 2015: Complete list of nominees". Los Angeles Times. December 5, 2014. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  12. ^ Robinson, George (January 21, 2014). "Krakauer Goes To The Movies". The Jewish Week. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  13. ^ Milkowski, Bill (February 11, 2014). "Krakauer: The Big Picture". The Absolute Sound. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  14. ^ Astarita, Glenn (February 9, 2014). "David Krakauer: The Big Picture Featuring David Krakauer (2014)". All About Jazz. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  15. ^ "Editors' Picks February 2014". DownBeat Magazine. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  16. ^ Chinen, Nate (January 30, 2014). "A Clarinet Does Scenes". New York Times. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  17. ^ Adler, David R. (February 3, 2014). "The Best Jazz Shows in NYC This Month". Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  18. ^ "Grand Opening of the Core Exhibition". Retrieved December 9, 2014.

External links[edit]