Kraft, William

From TEK Percussion Database
Jump to navigation Jump to search
William Kraft


Born: September 6, 1923 - Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Died: February 12, 2022 - Glendale, California, U.S.A.

Country: Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A

Studies: Columbia University (B.S.1951, M.A.1954), Juilliard

Teachers: Norman Lockwood, Henry Cowell, Jack Beeson, Otto Luening

Orchestra: California - The Big List of timpanists - Los Angeles Philharmonic

Mention: Elected to the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame (1990)[1]

Born in Chicago but raised in Santa Barbara, William Kraft has been one of the West Coast’s most important musical voices for nearly four decades. In addition to his tenure as the Principal Timpanist of the LA Phil for 18 of his 26 years with the orchestra, he was Assistant Conductor for 3 years, and served as its composer-in-residence from 1981-1985, during which time he founded and directed the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group.

During his early years in Los Angeles, he organized and directed the Los Angeles Percussion Ensemble, a group that played a vital part in premieres and recordings of works by such renowned composers as Ginastera, Harrison, Krenek, Stravinsky, and Varèse. Kraft served as Stravinsky’s timpanist and percussionist in charge of all percussion activities for the composer’s Los Angeles performances and recordings. As a percussion soloist, he performed in the American premieres of Stockhausen’s Zyklus and Boulez’ Le marteau sans maître, in addition to recording Histoire du soldat under Stravinsky’s direction.

Kraft has received numerous awards and commissions, including two Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards (first prize in 1990 for Veils and Variations for Horn and Orchestra, and second prize in 1984 for Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra); two Guggenheim Fellowships; two Ford Foundation commissions; fellowships from the Huntington Hartford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts; the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Music Award; the ASCAP Award; the NACUSA Award; commissions from the Library of Congress, U.S. Air Force Band, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, Voices of Change, the Schoenberg Institute, consortium of Speculum Musicae/San Francisco Contemporary Music Players/Contemporary Music Forum, the Boston Pops Orchestra, consortium of Pacific Symphony/Spokane Symphony/Tucson Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, among others.

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 Air Lines 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. In November 1990, Kraft was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Percussive Arts Society. The Concerto for English Horn and Orchestra, commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was premiered on January 16, 2003, with soloist Carolyn Hove and Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting. His Second Timpani Concerto, commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony, was premiered in June 2005 with soloist David Herbert, Michael Tilson Thomas conducting.

Compact discs completely devoted to Kraft’s music can be found on Harmonia Mundi, CRI, Cambria, Albany, Crystal, and Nonesuch labels. Other works can be found on GM, Crystal, London Decca, and Neuma. Recent works include Brazen, commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and the Concerto for Four Percussion Soloists for Symphonic Wind Ensemble, premiered and recorded by the New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble, Frank Battisti conducting.[2]

Works for Percussion


2-4-1 - Snare Drum
A Trifle for Timothy - Multiple Percussion
Corrente II - Multiple Percussion
Da Dit - Multiple Percussion
Des Imagistes - Percussion Sextet; Narrator
Divinations - Multiple Percussion
English Suite - Multiple Percussion
French Suite - Multiple Percussion
Images - Timpani
L'Arlesienne - Multiple Percussion
Morris Dance - Multiple Percussion
M'SP - Timpani
Passacaglia - Percussion Solo
Theme and Metric Variations - Multiple Percussion
Two Drums in the Shape of an Etude - Multiple Percussion
Variations for King George - Timpani

Percussion Solos with Orchestra

Concerto for Solo Percussion and Chamber Ensemble - Multiple Percussion; Orchestra
Concerto for Timpani and Orchestra (Kraft) - Timpani; Orchestra
Concerto No. 2 for Timpani and Orchestra, XIII The Grand Encounter - Timpani; Orchestra
Three Miniatures for Percussion and Orchestra - Solo - Multiple Percussion; Orchestra
Triangles: Concerto for Percussion and Ten Instruments - Multiple Percussion; Chamber Ensemble

Percussion Solos with Strings

Music for String Quartet and Percussion - Multiple Percussion; String Quartet

Percussion Ensembles

Colorations - Variable Instrumentation; Graphic Score
Kandinsky Variations - Variable Instrumentation; graphic score
Quartet for Percussion (Kraft) - Percussion Quartet
Scherzo á Due - Multiple Percussion Duet
Suite for Percussion - Percussion Quartet
Trio for Percussion (Kraft) - Percussion Trio

Percussion Ensembles with Orchestra

Concerto for Four Percussion Soloists & Orchestra - Percussion Quartet; Orchestra
Configurations - Concerto for Four Percussion Soloists & Jazz Orchestra - Percussion Quartet; Jazz Orchestra
Momentum for Eight Percussionists - Percussion Ensemble (8)
Three Miniatures for Percussion and Orchestra - Percussion Quartet; Orchestra

Percussion Ensemble with Concert Band

Quintessence: Concerto for Five Percussion Soloists and Concert Band - Percussion Quintet; Concert Band

Percussion Ensemble with Voice

Songs of Flowers, Bells and Death: Contextures IV for Chorus and Percussion Orchestra - Percussion Ensemble (12); Chorus
Theme and Variations (Kraft) - Percussion Quartet; Narrator (optional)

Encounter Series

Encounters I - Multiple Percussion; with tape
Encounters II - Tuba
Encounters III - Multiple Percussion; Trumpet
Encounters IV - Multiple Percussion; Trombone
Encounters V: In the Morning of the Winter Sea - Multiple Percussion; Cello
Encounters VI - A Concertino for Roto-toms and Percussion Quartet - Percussion Quartet; Multiple Percussion
Encounters VII - Multiple Percussion Duet
Encounters VIII - Multiple Percussion
Encounters IX - Multiple Percussion; Saxophone
Encounters X - Marimba; Violin
Encounters XI: The Demise of Suriyodhaya - Multiple Percussion; English Horn
Encounters XII: The Gabrielic Foray - Multiple Percussion; Harp
Encounters XIII - Multiple Percussion; Woodwind Quintet
Encounters XIV: Concerto a Tre - Multiple Percussion, Violin, Piano
Encounters XV - Multiple Percussion, Guitar
Encounters XVI - Multiple Percussion, Flute
Encounters XVII - Multiple Percussion, Clarinet