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Craft, Robert (Lawson)

Craft, Robert (Lawson) , American conductor and writer on music; b. Kingston, N.Y., Oct. 20, 1923. He studied at the Juilliard School of Music in N.Y. (B.A., 1946) and the Berkshire Music Center in Tangle wood; took courses in conducting with Monteux. In 1947 he conducted the N.Y. Brass and Woodwind Ensemble. He was conductor of the Evenings-on-the-Roof and the Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles (1950–68). A decisive turn in his career was his encounter with Stravinsky in 1948, whom he greatly impressed by his precise knowledge of Stravinsky’s music; gradually he became Stravinsky’s closest associate. He was also instrumental in persuading Stravinsky to adopt the 12-tone method of composition, a momentous turn in Stravinsky’s creative path. He collaborated with Stravinsky on six vols. of a catechumenical and discursive nature: Conversations with Igor Stravinsky (N.Y, 1959); Memories and Commentaries (N.Y, 1960); Expositions and Developments (N.Y, 1962); Dialogues and a Diary(N.Y, 1963); Themes and Episodes (N.Y, 1967); Retrospections and Conclusions (N.Y, 1969). Resentful of frequent referral to him as a musical Boswell, Craft insists that his collaboration with Stravinsky was more akin to that between the Goncourt brothers, both acting and reacting to an emerging topic of discussion, with Stravinsky evoking his ancient memories in his careful English, or fluent French, spiced with unrestrained discourtesies toward professional colleagues on the American scene, and Craft reifying the material with an analeptic bulimia of quaquaversal literary, psychological, physiological, and culinary references in a flow of finely ordered dialogue. His other publications include Prejudices in Disguise (N.Y, 1974); Stravinsky in Photographs and Documents (with Vera Stravinsky; London, 1976;N.Y, 1978); Current Convictions: Views and Reviews (N. Y, 1977); Present Perspectives (N.Y, 1984); Stravinsky: Glimpses of a Life (N.Y, 1992). He also tr. and ed. Stravinsky, Selected Correspondence (2 vols., N.Y, 1982, 1984).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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