David Krakauer

Guest Artist

Only a select few artists have the ability to convey their message to the back row, to galvanize an audience with a visceral power that connects on a universal level. David Krakauer is such an artist. Widely considered one of the greatest clarinetists on the planet with his own unique sound and approach, he has been praised internationally as a key innovator in modern klezmer as well as a major voice in classical music. In 2015, he received a Grammy nomination as soloist with the conductor-less chamber orchestra A Far Cry.

Krakauer began his journey with the music of his Eastern European Jewish cultural heritage at the end of the 1980s as the Berlin Wall was falling, and culture from “behind the Iron Curtain” began to emerge in the West. Inspired by these massive cultural shifts, he began to explore klezmer music as he sought to connect with his Jewish identity in a deeper way. He very quickly became a creator in his own right; first as a member of the ground-breaking band The Klezmatics (that launched the second klezmer revival of the early 1990s), then as an integral part of John Zorn’s Radical Jewish Culture movement, and ultimately as a composer, soloist and band leader in the klezmer genre.

His wide array of projects, solo appearances, and multi-genre collaborations includes ensembles, conductors, composers and individual artists such as the WDR Big Band, Abraham Inc. (co-led with Fred Wesley and Socalled), the Emerson Quartet, Marin Alsop, Wlad Mathulets, Leonard Slatkin (Orchestre de Lyon), Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, Quatuor Debussy, JoAnn Falletta, George Tsontakis, Anakronic Electro Orkestra and Kathleen Tagg (pianist and co-creator of Breath & Hammer).

Krakauer’s discography contains some of the most important clarinet recordings of recent decades. Among them are The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind (Osvaldo Golijov and the Kronos Quartet/Nonesuch), which received the Diapason D’Or in France, The Twelve Tribes (Label Bleu) which was designated album of the year in the jazz category for the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik, and Paul Moravec’s Pulitzer Prize-winning composition Tempest Fantasy (Naxos). He has also recorded with violinist Itzhak Perlman/The Klezmatics (Angel) and Dawn Upshaw/Osvaldo Golijov (Deutsche Grammophon). Other notable releases include his 2015 album Checkpoint with his band Ancestral Groove (Label Bleu), Mathew Rosenblum’s concerto “Lament/Witches’ Sabbath” with BMOP (New Focus), Klezmer NY (Tzadik), Tweet Tweet and Together We Stand with Abraham Inc. (Label Bleu) and Breath & Hammer on his own label, Table Pounding Records. He can be heard in Danny Elfman’s score for the Ang Lee film Taking Woodstock and throughout Sally Potter’s The Tango Lesson.

Most recently Krakauer has been co-composing a number of large-scale works with Kathleen Tagg including a fantasy for concert band, a clarinet concerto for the Santa Rosa Symphony with conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong and the score for Minyan by filmmaker Eric Steel.

As an esteemed educator, David Krakauer is on the clarinet and chamber music faculties of the Manhattan School of Music, the Mannes College of Music (New School) and The Bard Conservatory.

Banner photo by Susan and Neil Silverman Photography
Photo by David Krakauer by GMD

David Krakauer