William Kraft

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William Kraft (September 6, 1923 – February 12, 2022) was an American composer, conductor, teacher, timpanist, and percussionist.

Biography[edit]

Early life and education (1923–1954)[edit]

Kraft was born in Chicago, Illinois. He was awarded two Anton Seidl Fellowships at Columbia University, graduating with a bachelor's degree cum laude in 1951 and a master's degree in 1954. He studied composition with Jack Beeson and Henry Cowell, orchestration with Henry Brant, percussion with Morris Goldenberg, timpani from Saul Goodman, and conducting with Rudolph Thomas and Fritz Zweig.

While in New York City, Kraft worked as a freelance musician and was an extra percussionist at the Metropolitan Opera. In 1954, Kraft joined the Dallas Symphony. After one season, he accepted a position as percussionist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.[1]

At the Los Angeles Philharmonic (1955–1985)[edit]

Kraft began as a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's percussion section, before being promoted to the orchestra's principal timpanist. From 1968–1972, he also served as the orchestra's assistant conductor, under then music director Zubin Mehta.[2] From 1981–1985, Kraft was Composer-in-Residence for the orchestra; during that period he founded and directed its New Music Group.[3] Altogether he spent 26 years with the Philharmonic.[4]

In 1958, Kraft founded the Los Angeles Percussion Ensemble, a group which made its debut on March 10 with the Monday Evening Concerts.[5] The group performed the world and local premieres of works by Alberto Ginastera, Lou Harrison, Ernst Krenek, Igor Stravinsky, Edgard Varèse, and other composers. He performed in the local premiere of Pierre Boulez's Le marteau sans maître under the composer's direction[6] and played the American premiere of Karlheinz Stockhausen's Zyklus. The latter led to a journalistic debate between Los Angeles Times music critic Albert Goldberg and Kraft, who took exception to the critic's use of the term "noisemakers" in reference to percussion instruments.[7]

He has also composed film soundtracks, including the scores to Psychic Killer (1975),[8] Avalanche (1978), Bill (1981), and Fire and Ice (1983).

Later years[edit]

Kraft served as chairman of the composition department and holder of the Corwin Chair at the University of California, Santa Barbara until he retired in June 2002.

Personal life and death[edit]

Kraft died on February 12, 2022, at the age of 98.[9][10]

Commissions and awards[edit]

Compositions[edit]

In the 1960s and 1970s, most of Kraft's compositions were serial, while in the 1980s he incorporated jazz rhythms and impressionist harmonies. Although percussion works feature prominently in his catalog, in 1996–1998 he concentrated on composing his first opera, Red Azalea.[13] His works have been performed by many major American orchestras as well as those in Europe, Japan, Korea, China, Australia, Israel, and the USSR. Kraft's Contextures: Riots – Decade '60 (1967) has been choreographed and performed by both the Scottish National Ballet and the Minnesota Dance Company. In 1986, United Airlines commissioned a work expressly to accompany a lumetric sculpture by Michael Hayden titled Sky's the Limit, for their pedestrian passageway at Chicago-O'Hare International Airport.[14]

Encounters[15]
Name Instrumentations Details
General List Percussion List
Soliloquy Multi-Percussion with Tape Vibraphone

Bongos

Snare Drum

Tenor Drum

Bass Drum (with Pedal)

Tam-tam

Dedicated to Karen Ervin

Commission by Karen Ervin

World Premiere by Karen Ervin on 1975

Published by New Music West

Tape Recording by Protone CSPR163 Cassette

Encounter II Tuba NO PERCUSSION REQUIRED World Premiere by Roger Bobo on 1967

Published by Editions BIM

Encounter III Multi-Percussion

and Trumpet

Glockenspiel

Vibraphone

Crotales

Song Bells

Tuned Gongs

Temple Blocks

5 Cow Bells

3 Triangles

5 Suspended Cymbals

Bongos

Snare Drum

Field drum

Tenor Drum

Bass Drum

Dedicated to Thomas Stevens and Mitchell Peters

Commission by Thomas Stevens

World Premiere by Malcom McNab (Trumpet) and Karen Ervin (Percussion) on 1972

Published by New Music West

Tape Recording by Protone CSPR163 Cassette

Encounter IV Multi-Percussion

and Trombone

with Tape

Crotales

Vibraphone

4 Timpani

9 Tuned Gongs

Timbales

Bongos

Tenor Drums

11 Steel Bowls

4 Tam Tams

Galvanized trash can cover

Cominssion by Thomas Ervin and Karen Ervin

World Premiere by Thomas Ervin (Trombone), Karen Ervin (Percussion) and tape collage by William Malloch on 1973

Published by New Music West

In the Morning of the Winter Sea Multi-Percussion

Cello

Crotales

Bongos

Snare Drum

Field Drum

Tenor Drum

4 Tam Tams

Spring Coil

Commissioned by Ford Foundation

World Premiere by Nathaniel Rosen (Cello) and William Kraft (Percussion) in 1976

Published by New Music West

Concertino for Roto Toms and Percussion Quartet Multi-percussion

with Percussion Quartet

Solo

7 Rototoms (6, 8, 10, 12,14, 16 and 18 inches)

Triangle

4 Cymbals

6 Crotales (G, C#, F, D#, E and F#)

Player 1

Vibraphone

4 Tam Tams

Bass Drum

Wind Chimes (Metal)

Spring Coil

Player 2

Vibraphone

Tubular Bells

Player 3

Glockenspiel

Vibraphone

Player 4

Vibraphone

Commissioned by Remo

Dedicated to Jennifer Kraft (William Kraft's Daughter)

World Premiere by Temple University Percussion Ensemble on 10 March 1976

Published by New Music West

Blessed Are the Peacemakers Multi-Percussion Duet Player 1

Vibraphone

Marimba

Crotales

5 Timpani

4 Suspended Cymbals

Bongos

Player 2

Vibraphone

Crotales

Tubular Bells

Timpano

2 Brake Drums

4 Tom Toms

Bongos

Snare Drum

Field Drum

Tenor Drum

Bass Drum

Commission by Steve Grimo and Pat Hollenbeck

Dedicated to Liz, David, Marc, Pat, Marsha, Rick, Nancy, Don, Sylvia and Carl

World Premiere by Steve Grimo and Pat Hollenbeck in 1978

Published by New Music West

The Latimer Encounter Multi-Percussion Solo Glockenspiel

Vibraphone

Marimba

Chimes

3 Temple Blocks

2 Wood Blocks

2 Tam tams

Commissioned by members and alumni of Wisconsin Youth Symphony

World Premiere by Jim Latimer in 1978

Published by New Music West

Encounters IX Alto Saxophone and Multi-Percussion Vibraphone

Bongos

2 Snare Drums

Field Drum

Tenor Drum

Bass Drum

Tam Tam

3 Suspended Cymbals

Japanese Prayer Bowls (Optional)

Commissioned by Baylor University

World Premiere by David Hastings (Saxophone) and Larry Vanlandingham (Percussion) in 1982

Published by New Music West

Duologue for Violin and Marimba Violin and Marimba Commission by Marimolin

World Premiere by Sharan Leventhal (Violin) and Nancy Zeltsman (Marimba) in 1992

Published by New Music West

The Demise of Suriyodhaya Multi-Percussion and English Horn Vibraphone

Marimba

Crotales

Bongos

2 Snare Drums

Field Drum

Tenor Drum

Bass Drum

Mark Tree

Wind Chimes

Commission by Carolyn Hove and Raynor Carroll

Dedicated to Lou Harrison and Toru Takemitsu

World Premiered by Carolyn Hove (English Horn) and Raynor Carroll (percussion) on 1 March 1999

Published by Theodore Pressor Company

The Gabrielic Foray Multi-percussion and Harp Glockenspiel

Vibraphone

Almglocken

Bongos

2 Snare Drums

Field Drum

[[Tenor Drum

Bass Drum

Tam Tam

Sizzle Cymbal

World Premiered by David Herbert (percussion) and Alison Bjurkedal (Harp) on 12 August 2003

Published by Theodore Pressor Company

Concertino for Percussion and Woodwind Quintet Multi-Percussion and

Woodwind Quintet

Vibraphone

Crotales

Bongos

2 Snare Drums

Field Drum

Tenor Drum

Bass Drum

Tam Tam

4 Suspended Cymbals

Hi-Hat

Vibraslap

Maracas

World Premiere by Kenneth McGrath (Percussion) and Southwest Chamber Music on 17 March 2008

Published by Theodore Pressor Company

Concerto a Tre Violin, Piano and Percussion Vibraphone

Bongos

Snare Drum

Field Drum

Tenor Drum

Bass Drum

Tam Tam

Suspended Cymbal

World Premiered by Martha's Vineyard Chamber Music Society on 8 August 2005

Published by Theodore Pressor Company

Encounter XV Multi- Percussion and Amplified Guitar Vibraphone

Marimba

Crotales

Bongos

Snare Drum

Field Drum

Tenor Drum

Bass Drum

7 Tuned Asian Gongs

12 small Tuned Asian Gongs

[[Tam Tam]s]

Suspended Cymbals

Cowbells

2 Temple Bowls

Commissioned by the Fromm Foundation for Southwest Chamber Music

World Premiered by Lynn Vartan (Percussion) and John Schneider (Guitar) on 6 October 2008

Published by Theodore Pressor Company

Large Ensemble Works
Title Date Publisher Instrumentation Details
Solo Accompany Percussions
Concerto for Four Percussionists and Symphonic Wind Ensemble[16] 1964 Theodore Presser Company Multi-Percussion 4 Flutes (3rd double Piccolo; 4th double Piccolo and Alto Flute)

4 Oboes (4th double English Horn)

4 Clarinet in Bb(4th double Bass Clarinet in Bb)

4 Bassoon (4th double Contrabassoon)

4 Horns in F

4 Trumpets in C

4 Trombones

Tuba

Piano (Double Celesta)

Harp

Player 1

Timpani

Wood Drums

Tambourine

Player 2

5 Drums

Crotales

Glockenspiel

Tubular Bells

Player 3

Vibraphone

Xylophone

Metals

Bass Drum

Player 4

Glockenspiel

Xylophone

Snare Drum

Triangle

Song Bells

Dedicated to Edgard VarΦse

World Premiere: Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra on 10 March 1966

Configurations

Concerto for Four Percussion Soloists and Jazz Orchestra

1966 NM-West Multi-Percussion Flute

Clarinet

Alto Saxophone

2 Horns

3 Trumpets

3 Trombones

Tuba

Piano

Guitar

Double Bass

Player 1

Timpani

Marimba

Xylophone

Crotales

Tam Tam

Player 2

Crotales

Glockenspiel

Tubular Bells

Bass Drum

3 Wood Blocks

2 Temple Blocks

Player 3

Vibraphone

Bongos

Snare Drum

Tenor Drum

Field Drum

Bass Drum

Player 4

Tubular Bells

Crotales

Bass Drum

Drumset

Commission by Ludwig Drum Company

World Premiere by University of Southern California Wind Ensemble on 13 November 1966

Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra 1983 Theodore Presser Company Timpani 2 Flutes (both double Piccolo)

2 Oboes (Both double English)

2 Clarinets in Bb

2 Bassoons

4 Horns in F

3 Trumpets in C

3 Trombone

3 Percussion

Piano (double Celeste)

Harp

Violins

Violas

Cellos

Double Bass

Player 1

6 Graduated Drums

2 Suspended Cymbals (High & Medium)

Glockenspiel

Crotales (E & A)

Player 2

Crotales (2 Octaves)

6 Temple Blocks

Crash Cymbals

Suspended Cymbal (Medium)

Snare Drum

Field Drum

Xylophone

Triangle

Tam Tam (shared)

Player 3

Chimes

Crotales (B - E)

Bass Drum

Tam Tam (shared)

Suspended Cymbal (Low)

Vibraphone

Lath on Leather Pad

Commissioned by Indiana Percussion Project[17]

Dedicated to Thomas Akins

World Premiere by Thomas Akins (soloist) and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra

Concerto for Percussion and Chamber Ensemble[18] 1993 Theodore Presser Company Multi-Percussion Flute (Double Piccolo)

Clarinet in A (Double Bass Clarinet in Bb)

Violin

Cello

Bongos

Cowbells

Suspended Cymbal (Low)

Tam Tam

2 Snare Drum

Field Drum

Tenor Drum

Bass Drum (pedal)

2 Automobile Spring Coils

Vibraphone

Marimba

World Premiere by Dean Anderson (Soloist) and Boston Musica Viva on 17 September 1993
Concerto No. 2 for Timpani and Orchestra

The Grand Encounter[19]

2005 Theodore Presser Company Timpani

(15 Timpani are required)

3 Flutes (3rd double Piccolo and Alto Flute)

3 Oboes (3rd double English Horn)

3 Clarinet in Bb(3rd double Bass Clarinet in Bb)

3 Bassoon (3rd double Contrabassoon)

3 Horns in F

3 Trumpets in C

3 Trombones

Tuba

4 Percussion

Piano (Double Celesta)

Harp

Violins

Violas

Cellos

Double Bass

Player 1

Vibraphone

Crotales

Flexitone

Tam Tam

Brake Drum

Player 2

Glockenspiel

7 Almglocken

Bongos

2 Snare Drums

Field Drum

Tenor Drum

Bass Drum

Crash Cymbals

Suspended Cymbal

Tam Tam

Lath on Leather

Player 3

Glockenspiel

Marimba

3 Suspended Cymbals

Triangle

Sleigh Bells (High)

Vibraslap

Lath on Leather

Player 4

Chimes

Tuned Gongs

7 Nipple Gongs

Sleigh Bells (Low)

Tam Tam

Suspended Cymbal (Low)

Commissioned by Michael Tilson Thomas (music director of San Francisco Symphony Orchestra)

World Premiere by David Herbert (Soloist) and San Francisco Symphony Orchestra on 9 June 2005

Recordings[edit]

Compact discs completely devoted to Kraft's music can be found on Harmonia Mundi, CRI, Cambria, Crystal, Albany, and Nonesuch labels. Other works can be found on GM, Crystal, London Decca, Townhall, EMI, and Neuma. Recent works include Brazen, commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra; Quintessence Revisited and Concerto for Four Percussion Soloists and Symphonic Wind Ensemble, premiered and recorded by the New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble, Frank Battisti conducting. His 'Encounter' solo series has been recorded multiple times on all appropriate instruments. On Encounters he worked with guitarist John Schneider. Encounters II showcases unique techniques for tuba such as multi-phonics double pedal range. In 2010, the Los Angeles Philharmonic released a recording on DG Concerts of the Timpani Concerto No. 1 featuring Joseph Pereira as soloist with John Adams conducting.

Discography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Swed, Mark (February 17, 2022). "Timpanist and composer William Kraft, who helped usher in the modern L.A. Phil, dies at 98". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 30, 2022. Retrieved May 30, 2022.
  2. ^ Hernández, Javier C. (March 23, 2022). "William Kraft, Percussionist and Force in New Music, Dies at 98". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 30, 2022. Retrieved May 30, 2022.
  3. ^ "William Kraft - composer". LA Philharmonic. Retrieved 2021-09-08.
  4. ^ "William Kraft". UC Santa Barbara Department of Music. Archived from the original on May 30, 2022. Retrieved May 30, 2022.
  5. ^ "2 Sonatas on Monday Evening Concert Bill". Los Angeles Evening Citizen News. March 6, 1958. Archived from the original on May 30, 2022. Retrieved May 30, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ Goldberg, Albert (March 12, 1957). "Strange Music Heard At Monday Concert". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 30, 2022 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ Goldberg, Albert (April 9, 1961). "Noisemakers! No, Not That, Too, Mr. Critic!". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 30, 2022. Retrieved May 30, 2022.
  8. ^ "Psychic Killer (1975) Full Cast & Crew". IMDb. Retrieved 2021-09-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ "William Kraft". NAMM. Retrieved 13 February 2022.
  10. ^ "Timpanist and composer William Kraft, who helped usher in the modern L.A. Phil, dies at 98". Los Angeles Times. 18 February 2022.
  11. ^ "Four Composers Win Awards for New Work". The New York Times. Retrieved 2021-09-08.
  12. ^ "PAS Hall of Fame". Percussive Art Society. Retrieved 2021-09-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Shulman 2001.
  14. ^ UC Santa Barbara: Department of Music: William Kraft
  15. ^ Bridwell, Barry (1993). The Multi-Percussion Writing of William Kraft in His Encounters Series with Three Recitals of Selected Works of ERB, PTASZYNSKA, REDEL, SERRY and Others. University of North Texas: Barry D. Bridwell.
  16. ^ "Concerto for Four Percussionists and Symphonic Wind Ensemble". Presser. Retrieved 2021-09-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ "William Kraft: Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra". ISSUU. Retrieved 2021-09-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ "Concerto for Solo Percussion and Chamber Ensemble". PERCTEK. Retrieved 2021-09-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  19. ^ "William Kraft: Concerto No. 2 The Grand Encounter for Timpani and Orchestra". ISSUU. 2011-11-14. Retrieved 2021-09-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

Works cited[edit]

  • Shulman, Laurie. 2001. "Kraft, William". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.

External links[edit]