Born: August 21, 1950
The first artist from North America (though Austrian-born, he was reared in Canada) to have won the Segovia International Competition in Mallorca, Spain (1985), Norbert Kraft has achieved a reputation as one of the world's finest guitarists. His ascent to celebrity began with his winning the Grand Prize in Canada's CBC Radio Competition in 1979. Kraft also founded and serves as artistic director of the internationally respected Toronto Guitarfest. Following his success in the Segovia Competition, Kraft began recording. His first solo CD for Chandos was cited by several music magazines as one of the year's best recordings. Appearances with major orchestras came soon thereafter, including those in the United States and Canada. A frequent guest of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Kraft also made solo appearances on CBC television, writing and hosting several radio programs, and later presenting a CBC radio series entitled The Art of the Guitar, on which he was joined by many of Canada's finest chamber musicians. Kraft was heard, too, on the BBC in England and on National Public Radio in the United States. In addition to acclaimed performances of the established guitar repertory, Kraft has commissioned new works and has won the admiration of composers whose works he has championed, Sir Michael Tippett and Elliott Carter among them. For Naxos, Kraft has recorded an outstanding series of solo and concerto performances. He has also served as artistic director for the steadily growing and critically honored Naxos Guitar Collection. Aside from his other burgeoning responsibilities, Kraft maintains an active recital and orchestral concert schedule worldwide. He has toured North America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and Japan, also giving command performances for several heads of state. He represented Canada in cultural programs at the World Expo 1990 in Osaka, Japan, and at Expo 1992 in Seville, Spain. Respected performer that he is, Kraft has attracted students from many world regions. As a faculty member at the Manhattan School of Music and professor at the University of Toronto and Toronto's Royal Academy of Music, he has been an important influence on a new generation of classical guitarists. Within Kraft's extensive discography for Naxos are excellent recordings of works by Villa-Lobos, Sor, Paganini, Rodrigo, and Tippett.