Suite for Percussion : AFter Kraft
Duration: 7′ | Difficulty: Intermediate/Advanced
Trio for Percussion | Mixed Percussion
(See score for more information)
William Kraft (December 26th, 1923 – February 12th, 2022) is considered to be one of the most important and defining composers of percussion throughout the 20th century. His music was, and continues to be, some of the defining repertoire which has shaped multiple-percussion and percussion ensemble literature. Kraft’s innovative and colorful works became an immediate obsession of mine over the last year. After studying works such as, English Suite, French Suite, Suite for WeatherKings, as well as both of his timpani concerti, I was immediately inspired to write a work dedicated to him after his passing in early 2022.
Suite for Percussion ‘After Kraft’ is my reflection on his music. The three movements each serve as their own “reflection” to different aspects of his music and life. The first movement is my response and internalization of English Suite, as well as, Suite for WeatherKings. Kraft’s mastery of creating catchy melodies with “non-pitched” instruments is an incredible gift and was my goal when writing this movement. The main theme is my attempt to create my own melody in his style which forms the basis for the movement.
The second movement is less of a reflection on any specific work by Kraft and more a reflection on his life. This movement serves to paint an elegy of Bill’s important legacy in percussion. Throughout the movement, chimes of distant bells fill a spacial soundscape which call upon the melody of the first movement in reflection as well as long thumb rolls on the Bass Drum as if hearing whispers from his life and memories. Half way through the movement, the music becomes more introspective, serving as an aural painting of his life. As the movement concludes, the theme from the first movement is transformed into something new which is meant to represent the lasting effect that Kraft’s music will have on future percussionists.
The final movement is an abstract to the second movement of Suite for WeatherKings. This “jazzy” movement evokes playful ostinati which layer on top of each other to create a unique soundscape. This movement pays tribute to Kraft’s important career as the principle timpanist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. It is my hope that this work can serve as an important and reflective remembrance of Bill Kraft’s life which continues to inspire and inform the future of the percussion ensemble as well as composers like myself.
Bill Kraft will go down in history as one of the most important composers for percussion of the 20th century and his legacy will live on for many generations to come.