Louis Krasner '22 DP, '81 hon. D.M. (1904–1995) taught at NEC from 1976 through the 1995 spring semester. Ukrainian-born and American-schooled—including studies at NEC—Krasner was one of the foremost champions of 20th-century music. He premiered both the Berg and Schoenberg violin concertos, and the lyricism and emotion of these works in the austere 12-tone mode can be attributed to him.
Krasner once remarked that the idea for the Berg concerto came from his experience at NEC, where he was asked to "just noodle," playing not prepared works, but whatever was within him. When he arrived at Berg's house to begin planning the concerto, the composer, too, asked him to "just play." "He wanted to see the extent of my own creativity, fantasy, and imagination," Krasner recalled.
Krasner studied with Otakar Ševcik, Carl Flesch, and Lucien Capet. "I studied with many great teachers, and all of their teaching emptied into me. It's all been redeveloped, re-cooked on my own burner. I don't know what's me or what's my teacher. Of his NEC teacher, Eugene Gruenberg, Krasner said: "He inculcated in me during my early years that we are all a part of humanity and the universe. Gruenberg's humanity has stood me by all these 100 years." Gruenberg, who headed NEC's violin department, was a friend of conductor Arthur Nikisch who played under Nikisch in the orchestra of the Leipzig opera, then followed him to Boston to play in the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Not only did Krasner have legendary violin teachers; the piano accompanist at his graduation recital in 1922 was Jesus Maria Sanroma '20 DP, '63 hon. D.M.
The extent of Krasner's artistry was enormous. After a career as a virtuoso violinist and as concertmaster of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, he taught at Syracuse University and then at his alma mater, NEC. Among the string quartets to benefit from his expertise were NEC's Quartet-in-Residence, the Borromeo String Quartet.
Laurence Lesser said of Krasner:
When I became president of NEC in 1983, I found in our midst two living national/cultural treasures: Louis Krasner and Eugene Lehner. They were the essential flame of our chamber music department, and each an important link to the great composers of the early part of this century.
After Krasner's death, his teaching legacy was memorialized by the creation of the Louis and Adrienne Krasner Teaching Excellence Award at NEC.
Krasner's reminiscence of the first performances of the Schoenberg Violin Concerto appeared in the Journal of the Arnold Schoenberg Institute, Vol. II, No. 2 (1978).
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