Consider, if you will, the poor timpanist. At most symphony concerts, they sit quietly—waiting for the moment when a dramatic exclamation point is required from the kettledrums. While the violinists rarely get a break, the timpanist must sit patiently for most of the evening, biding their time, waiting for the precise moments to strike.
On rare occasions, however, the timpanist is the CENTER of attention as soloist in a timpani concerto. One such concerto was written by an American composer, William Kraft, who was born on this day in 1923. Kraft was a timpanist himself. In fact, Kraft served as a percussionist and timpanist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 26 years, from 1955-1981. He was that orchestra’s first composer-in-residence, and founded the LA Philharmonic’s first New Music Group.
William Kraft’s “Timpani Concerto” was written in 1983 for timpanist Thomas Akins of the Indianapolis Symphony, who premiered the work with that orchestra in 1984.
Kraft’s own description of his Timpani Concerto is as follows, "The first movement is very jazzy … the second movement is very beautiful, with two string orchestras and a lot of glissandi, and the third is hell-bent for leather."
Music Played in Today's Program
William Kraft (b. 1923)Timpani ConcertoThomas Akins, timpani; Alabama Symphony; Paul Polivnick, cond.Albany 302
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