William Kraft

William Kraft

American composer
Date of Birth: 06.09.1923
Country: USA

  1. Biography of William Kraft
  2. American Composer
  3. Early Life and Education
  4. Music Career
  5. Exploring European Music
  6. Further Education and Career

Biography of William Kraft

American Composer

William Kraft, an American composer, was born on September 6, 1923. He had Ukrainian roots. His father, Louis Albert Kasherevsky, immigrated to America at the age of eleven and changed his surname to Kraft. At the age of seventeen, Louis became a manager of a grocery store in Chicago, Illinois, and eventually became the owner of the entire store.

William Kraft

Early Life and Education

William Kraft grew up in San Diego, where his family moved in 1927. His father opened a small shop in the suburb of San Diego called Mission Hills. At the age of five, William started taking piano lessons as his parents insisted that their children learn to play a musical instrument. He attended a Jewish elementary school and was fluent in Russian and Yiddish, but spoke English outside of his home.

Music Career

In his early teens, William became fascinated with the drumming of Joe Jones. He convinced his father to buy him a drum set and started taking drum lessons. Within a year, he regularly performed in Balboa Park as part of a dance group led by Frank Comstock. He also tried his hand at conducting under Comstock's guidance.

After graduating high school in 1941, William enrolled at San Diego State University but left to take drum lessons from Murray Spivak in Los Angeles. However, his plans of becoming a fighter pilot were put on hold when the United States entered World War II. Instead, he joined the United States Air Force musical group based in Kingman, Arizona. Kraft played drums, piano, and worked as an arranger.

Exploring European Music

In 1945, Kraft was deployed to Europe. He visited France and Germany, where he became acquainted with the works of German composer Paul Hindemith. This encounter sparked his interest in 20th-century music.

Further Education and Career

Upon returning to the United States, Kraft enrolled at Columbia University and graduated in 1954 with a master's degree. He studied composition, orchestration, percussion, and musicology under the guidance of Jack Beeson, Henry Cowell, Henry Brant, Morris Goldenberg, and Sol Goodman. After completing his studies, he worked at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. He then joined the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and, eventually, in 1955, became a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

During his time with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Kraft rose from being a percussionist to an assistant conductor. His career in conducting and composition flourished as he went on to become a highly respected and influential figure in the American classical music scene.