Louis Krasner was born in Cherkasy, in present-day Ukraine. He arrived in the United States at the age of 5, and graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1922. He continued his studies with Lucien Capet in Paris, Otakar Ševčík in Písek, Czechoslovakia, and Carl Flesch in Berlin. His concert career began in Europe, where he championed the concertos of Joseph Achron and Alfredo Casella.
In 1935 he commissioned Alban Berg's Violin Concerto, which he premiered in April 1936 in Barcelona, with conductor Hermann Scherchen. He also premiered Arnold Schoenberg's Violin Concerto in December 1940, with Leopold Stokowski leading his Philadelphia Orchestra. Among the American composers whose works he premiered were Roger Sessions, Henry Cowell and Roy Harris.
Krasner retired from solo performing to become concertmaster of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra 1944-1949. From 1949 to 1972 he was professor of music at Syracuse University. In 1976 he joined the faculties of the New England Conservatory of Music and the Berkshire Music Center. He won the 1983 Sanford Medal from Yale University and the 1995 Commonwealth Award.
He died in 1995 in Brookline, Massachusetts, aged 91.