Violinist Louis Krasner, born on June 21, 1903 in Cherkassy, Ukraine, was brought to the USA at the age of five. Krasner graduated in 1922 from the New England Conservatory, where he studied the violin with Eugene Gruenberg and composition with Frederick Converse. Further studies in Europe, under Flesch, Lucien Capet and Ševcík, led to an active concert career there and in the USA, during which he became closely identified with 20th-century music.
In 1934 he commissioned Berg’s violin concerto and gave its première at the 1936 ISCM Festival in Barcelona, and that of Schoenberg’s concerto in Philadelphia in 1940; both concertos were also first recorded by Krasner. His other first performances included concertos by Casella (1928, Boston) and Sessions (1946, Minneapolis), as well as shorter works by Cowell and Harris. Krasner became the concertmaster of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra under Mitropoulos (1944–9), and then moved to Syracuse University, where he taught the violin and chamber music until 1972. In 1976 he joined the faculties of the Berkshire Music Center, as well as New England Conservatory where he taught for the remainder of his life. Krasner died in Boston on May 4, 1995.
This collection consists of one clamshell box (15 folders) containing solely paper files.
This collection was given to the NEC library by Krasner himself in the early 1990s. In 1992, Krasner also donated several hundred published scores of violin and chamber music that he had acquired while at Syracuse University. For an itemized list of this published music, click here
Access to the Krasner Collection is granted by the NEC Archivist. Appointments must be scheduled in advance. There are no restrictions pertaining to this collection.
All copyrights to this collection belong to the New England Conservatory. Permission to publish materials from this collection is granted by the Director of Libraries. This collection should be cited as the Louis Krasner Collection, New England Conservatory Archives, Boston, MA.
Scope & Content
The Krasner collection is organized into these four series:
- Biographical records
- Subject Files
Krasner’s Correspondence is divided into two categories, general and student. The general correspondence, arranged chronologically, spans the years 1950-1985 but is primarily from the 1970s and 1980s. The ‘student’ correspondence is either from a student or someone seeking Krasner’s advice. A few pieces of correspondence are thank you notes to Krasner. Finally, there is also a student term paper from 1991 in this file.
The Biographical records contain a variety of materials. The first folder in this series simply contains biographical information (vitae and brief biographical sketches) about Krasner as well as a photo clipping. There is one folder containing a few concert programs in which Krasner performed. The next two folders pertain to two grants Krasner applied for from the NEH and the Mark Rothko Foundation. The NEH grant file is much more detailed, containing the actual applications and proposal. The last folder in this series contains a small number of miscellaneous items…a postcard, flyers, advertisements etc.
The Writings/Speeches series consists of five folders. The first contains materials relating to the Krasner’s 1967 Tanglewood report entitled “String Problems, Players and Paucity”. The next two folders concern Krasner’s role as editor of the “Violin Forum” column of the American String Teacher magazine. The first contains related correspondence; the second contains articles submitted by Krasner and others. The folder containing ‘other’ speeches and writings includes a copy of the “String problem” report; “In Consideration of the Creative Arts”(A commentary on “A Model of Society: the American Case” by Robin Williams Jr., Cornell University); an article in honor of Schoenberg’s 100th anniversary; and a short story written by Krasner when he was a student entitled “The Master’s Cremona,” and “George W. Chadwick: “Just Play – Just Noodle – Alban Berg: Bitte Nur Preludieren” which is a reminiscence of Krasner’s early days as a student at NEC, specifically focusing on the violin competition for the Richard Sears Prize. The last folder in this series contains handwritten notes by Krasner, presumably used for articles, presentations, or class lectures.
There are only three Subject files in the Krasner collection. The first contains materials relating to Alban Berg’s violin concerto, which was commissioned and premiered by Krasner. This folder recounts the circumstances surrounding the composition and performance of this work. Included is a draft of Krasner’s paper, “The Origins of the Alban Berg Violin Concerto” which was presented at the Alban Berg Symposium (Vienna, 1980). The complete proceedings of this symposium, edited by Rudolf Klein, were published the following year by Universal Editions. This draft contains many handwritten markings.
The next folder consists primarily of correspondence between Krasner and friend Elizabeth Dorsey, along with correspondence from Don Engle. Krasner was seeking the support of those involved with the Minnesota Orchestra in establishing a faculty chair at NEC that would honor former Minnesota conductor, Dmitri Mitropoulos. Gunther Schuller was actively involved in this project as well. (See also the Schuller collection). The last subject folder contains materials pertaining to the International American Music Competition for violinists, for which Krasner served as a judge.
Series 1: Correspondence
Folder 1 – Correspondence, General
Folder 2 – Correspondence, Students
Series 2: Biographical records
Folder 3 - Biographical information
Folder 4 – Concert programs
Folder 5 – Mark Rothko Foundation grant
Folder 6 – NEH Grant
Folder 7 - Miscellaneous
Series 3: Writings/Speeches
Folder 8 – String Symposium
Folder 9 – American String Teacher, correspondence
Folder 10 – American String Teacher, articles
Folder 11 – Writings/speeches, Other
Folder 12 – Notes
Series 4: Subject Files
Folder 13 – Berg’s Violin Concerto
Folder 14 – Dmitri Mitropoulos Chair
Folder 15 – International American Music Competition for violinists