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Robert Craft

Robert Lawson Craft is an American conductor, noted for his association with Igor Stravinsky and his championing of the music of Anton Webern and other composers of the Second Viennese School.

Craft had a middle-class upbringing in upstate New York. After service as an Army medic during World War II, he studied at Juilliard and Berkshire Music Center and privately with Pierre Monteux. From 1947 to 1950 he conducted the Chamber Arts Society of New York, attracting attention for his adventurous programming.

His conducting led to a meeting with the 65-year-old Igor Stravinsky, who hired him as musical assistant and secretary. Moving to Stravinsky's home in Los Angeles, Craft assisted him with the English text of the opera The Rake's Progress. Craft also conducted two concert series in Los Angeles, the Evenings-on-the-Roof and its successor, the Monday Evening Concerts. Again, he scheduled music of Schoenberg, Webern, Varèse, late Stravinsky, and older music such as that of Gesualdo.

After the premiere of The Rake in 1951, Stravinsky found himself creatively blocked, but also unexpectedly stimulated by hearing Craft's performance of Schoenberg's Septet. The Russian master (generally considered the greatest rival of Schoenberg and his school) now asked Craft to provide some Schoenberg and Webern scores for study. Craft also gave Stravinsky Ernst Krenek's invaluable teaching books on the twelve-tone system. Over the next few years Stravinsky startled the musical world by embracing Schoenberg's system. Craft's position with Stravinsky altered from assistant to collaborator. The composer welcomed Craft's suggestions and advice even to the shaping of some of his late works. Craft also began rehearsing orchestras for Stravinsky to conduct in concert and for a great series of recordings for Columbia Records, making both endeavors possible.

In connection with the composer's 75th birthday, Craft suggested that he and Stravinsky prepare a written interview dealing with the most frequently asked questions and release it to the press rather than subject the old man to long, repetitive personal interviews. This format proved so successful that Craft and Stravinsky co-wrote several volumes of Stravinsky's memoirs and thoughts on music. After Stravinsky's death, Craft continued to edit Stravinsky documentation and write his own memories of life with Stravinsky.

Craft has pursued his own career as a lecturer, conductor, writer, and musicologist. While recording the Columbia Stravinsky cycle, he used odd moments available during studio sessions to produce the first integral recordings of the complete numbered works of Anton Webern. The turn of the 21st century found him recording the works of Stravinsky and of Schoenberg for Koch International Classics, which were subsequently licensed for reissue on Naxos.

He is a highly skilled and precise conductor who could no doubt have established a career of higher profile if he were more interested in the standard repertory and if he had not devoted much of his time to Stravinsky, both during and after the master's life. But he has gone firmly on record as saying the opportunity to know and work with the great man was, without doubt on his part, fully worth the trade-off.
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Schoenberg: Concerto for String Quartet & Orchestra; Lied der Waldtaube; The Book of the Hanging Gardens

Composer: Arnold Schoenberg
Title: Concerto for string quartet & orchestra (after Handel's Concerto Grosso, Op.6/7)

1. Concerto for string quartet & orchestra (after Handel's Concerto Grosso, Op.6/7): I. Largo, Allegro

2. Concerto for string quartet & orchestra (after Handel's Concerto Grosso, Op.6/7): II. Largo

3. Concerto for string quartet & orchestra (after Handel's Concerto Grosso, Op.6/7): III. Allegretto Grazioso

4. Concerto for string quartet & orchestra (after Handel's Concerto Grosso, Op.6/7): IV. Hornpipe, Moderato

Title: Suite for Piano, Op. 25

5. Suite for Piano, Op. 25: I. Praludium, Rasch

6. Suite for Piano, Op. 25: II. Gavotte, Etwas Langsam / Nicht Hastig - Musette / Rascher - Gavotte Da Capo

7. Suite for Piano, Op. 25: III. Intermezzo

8. Suite for Piano, Op. 25: IV. Menuett, Moderato / Trio / Menuette Da Capo

9. Suite for Piano, Op. 25: V. Gigue, Rasch

Title: Gurrelieder, Oratorio For 5 Soloists, Reciter, Chorus & Orchestra

10. Gurrelieder, Oratorio For 5 Soloists, Reciter, Chorus & Orchestra: Lied Der Waldtaube - Jennifer Lane

Title: The Book Of The Hanging Gardens, Cycle Of Songs (15) For Voice & Piano, Op. 15

11. The Book Of The Hanging Gardens, Cycle Of Songs (15) For Voice & Piano, Op. 15: Under The Shelter ...

12. The Book Of The Hanging Gardens, Cycle Of Songs (15) For Voice & Piano, Op. 15: Bushes In These Paradises ...

13. The Book Of The Hanging Gardens, Cycle Of Songs (15) For Voice & Piano, Op. 15: As A Young Man I Met You ...

14. The Book Of The Hanging Gardens, Cycle Of Songs (15) For Voice & Piano, Op. 15: Since My Lips Are Still And Burning ...

15. The Book Of The Hanging Gardens, Cycle Of Songs (15) For Voice & Piano, Op. 15: Tell Me, On Which Path ...

16. The Book Of The Hanging Gardens, Cycle Of Songs (15) For Voice & Piano, Op. 15: To Everything Now I Am Dead

17. The Book Of The Hanging Gardens, Cycle Of Songs (15) For Voice & Piano, Op. 15: Fear And Hope In Turns Oppress Me ...

18. The Book Of The Hanging Gardens, Cycle Of Songs (15) For Voice & Piano, Op. 15: If Today I Do Not Touch Your Body ...

19. The Book Of The Hanging Gardens, Cycle Of Songs (15) For Voice & Piano, Op. 15: Harsh Is Our Happiness And Hard ...

20. The Book Of The Hanging Gardens, Cycle Of Songs (15) For Voice & Piano, Op. 15: The Fair Flowerbed I Contemplate, Waiting ...

21. The Book Of The Hanging Gardens, Cycle Of Songs (15) For Voice & Piano, Op. 15: When We Behind The Flower-decked Gate ...

22. The Book Of The Hanging Gardens, Cycle Of Songs (15) For Voice & Piano, Op. 15: When I Holy Rest In Deep Hammocks ...

23. The Book Of The Hanging Gardens, Cycle Of Songs (15) For Voice & Piano, Op. 15: You Lean Against A Silver Willow ...

24. The Book Of The Hanging Gardens, Cycle Of Songs (15) For Voice & Piano, Op. 15: Speak No More Of Leaves ...

25. The Book Of The Hanging Gardens, Cycle Of Songs (15) For Voice & Piano, Op. 15: We Went Together Through The Evening Dark ...

Composer: Spoken Word
Title: A Conversation With Arnold Schoenberg

26. A Conversation With Arnold Schoenberg: A Conversation With Arnold Schoenberg - Arnold Schoenberg

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Track List: The Music of Arnold Schoenberg, Vol. III: Four Orchestral Songs, Op. 22 / Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31 / Music by J.S. Bach arranged for orchestra by Arnold Schoenberg - Robert Craft

Title: Chamber Symphony No. 1 In E Major, Op. 9
Title: Orchestral Songs (4) Op. 22
Title: Variations for Orchestra, Op. 31
Title: Transcription for orchestra of Bach's "Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heiliger Geist"
Title: Transcription for orchestra of Bach's "Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele"
Title: Transcription for orchestra of Bach's Prelude & Fugue in E flat major

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