Obituary: conductor, author, and Stravinsky assistant Robert Craft, 92

Posted on: November 17, 2015

An unsigned obituary in The Daily Telegraph (London) on Monday’s (11/16) reports the death of Robert Craft on November 10. Craft “was amanuensis to Igor Stravinsky for the last 23 years of the composer’s life, serving as companion, confidant, driver, editor, protégé, recording supervisor, surrogate son and general factotum. Craft even stood in as conductor when Stravinsky’s health failed…To his critics he was an insufferable gatekeeper…Craft’s supporters countered that he kept Stravinsky young by stimulating him as he approached old age… Craft would accept both arguments…” Born in Kingston, N.Y., on October 20, 1923, Craft “from the age of 12 was devoted to Stravinsky’s music.” His Juilliard studies “were cut short by military service. But he was soon at [Tanglewood] taking conducting lessons with Pierre Monteux.” A desire to conduct Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments in 1947 led to his meeting the composer, who then sought Craft’s advice on the libretto for The Rake’s Progress. “From the Rake of 1951 onwards, every work by Stravinsky, possibly as many as 25 major pieces, bore the imprimatur of Craft to some extent…” Craft’s writings include books on Stravinsky as well as such figures as Ingmar Bergman, Salvador Dali, and Pope John XXIII.

Posted November 17, 2015