A. WALTER KRAMER, well-known editor of Musical America, critic and composer, was born in New York on September 23, 1890. His father, who had come from Moravia, was a highly reputable musician who taught music at the Horace Mann High School in New York, and also at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. It was from his father that Walter received his first training in music. After some elementary lessons on the violin, more competent teachers had to be called-- and so young Walter studied under Carl Hauser, then a member of the New York Philharmonic. In harmony, Walter has been mainly self-taught. At the same time, he began to study the viola, and turned his pen to producing some original compositions for two violins which he and his father could play in spare hours.
In the meanwhile, Kramer pursued his academic studies in the New York public schools, and at the College of the City of New York, where he performed in the school orchestra. While at College, Kramer considered studying medicine. But in 1910 he met and became a friend of Arthur Judson, now famous concert-manager, who turned Kramer's thoughts more and more seriously towards music. It was Judson who induced Kramer to become a staff member of Musical America, and in accepting that position Kramer definitely bade farewell to all thoughts of medicine and launched himself upon a musical career.
He had not abandoned composing. In 1908 Carl Fischer issued his first published work, a Gavotte for violin; and three years later, Schirmer accepted a song, Die Ablösung. This was all the encouragement that Kramer needed. His fertility proved to be such that, during his Musical America period, he published several hundred works.
Fearing that his multifarious duties on Musical America were retarding his progress as a composer, Kramer resigned on November 1922 and sailed for Europe. After several months of travel, he settled for a while in Asolo, Italy--the home town of Malipiero, the
famous Italian modernist. For almost eight months, Kramer came into daily contact with the famous Italian composer, deriving much advice and inspiration from him. Here Kramer composed some of his major works for chorus and solo instruments.
In May 1925 Kramer returned to America and, several years later, he accepted the post of editor of Musical America which he holds today.
"In his music," writes John Tasker Howard, " Walter Kramer shows two distinct influences; one an essentially German pattern, with its simplicity and directness; the other a French mysticism, with its delicately tinted atmosphere and lack of formalism. These are the principal classifications into which his work unconsciously falls, altho there are notable instances in which the composer consciously casts his mould in the idiom of the American Negro, the naive mirth of the English folk song, or the exotic harmonies of the Scandinavians. To these influences is added an individuality which is becoming more and more apparent in his later works."
Concerning Kramer's personal tastes, he feels that the highest peaks in music have been reached by Beethoven, Wagner, Debussy and Strauss; among modern composers he thinks most highly of Ravel, Sibelius, Schönberg, and Malipiero. In literature, his tastes run to
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Publication information: Book title: Composers of Today:A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations. Contributors: David Ewen - Editor, David Ewen - Compiler. Publisher: H. W. Wilson. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1934. Page number: 147.