Victor Kraft: Portraiture of a Musical Treasure

Today, Aaron Copland remains revered as the Dean of American Composers due to his influence in changing harmonies in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Throughout his career, Copland gained many friendships, and one of them was with New York photographer Victor Kraft.

Kraft was first a child violinist prodigy. He performed in concerts and attended the esteemed Juilliard School to study composition under Roger Sessions, a famed neoclassicist composer. Eventually, Kraft left music for photography, thanks to Aaron Copland. Having met in 1932, the two remained close, calling Kraft as his pupil, companion, secretary, and friend. Kraft’s career was mostly known for portraiture of the American music scene — iconic photos of Leonard Bernstein, Paul Bowles, Edwin Denby, Dmitri Mitropoulos and Robert Shaw.

Kraft eventually branched out to do photojournalism, trained under Margaret Bourrke-White. He worked for Life Magazine and the New York Times. He also contributed to Look Magazine and the French art journal L'Oeil. Of course, Kraft was still Copland’s go-to photographer, both lived and traveled together many a time, from Hollywood, Mexico, Cuba to Bemidji.

The relationship between Copland and Kraft remained a mystery to the public until Copland’s death. According to Interlude, the closest and the only romantic relationship in Copland's life was with the photographer. His last words regarding his intimate relationship with Kraft were: “I think I’ll leave that to you, boy.”


Images are from the Library of Congress under the public domain.

2018-04-30 #culture #portraiture #aaron-copland #victor-kraft

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