By Nicole Hamilton
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Composer Jonathan Kramer, former professor of composition and theory at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's program annotator for 25 years, died Wednesdayin New York City. He was 61.
"He was not only an excellent composer, but an excellent theorist, too. He was able to excel in two very different ways musically, utilizing two different sets of skills and talents. Most people don't do both. It would be like a great painter also being a great art critic," said Joel Hoffman, professor of composition and theory at CCM, who was hired by the university at the same time as Mr. Kramer.
At the time of his death, Mr. Kramer was a professor of theory and composition at New York's Columbia University, a position he accepted in 1988. After teaching at both CCM and Columbia for two years, he left CCM in 1990.
"Jonathan was highly regarded as a superb teacher, a thoughtful and inspiring mentor to many students, and a warm-hearted, collegial member of the faculty. He maintained strong friendships with CCM faculty and former students, all of whom will remember Jonathan with admiration for his many talents and generosity of time and spirit," said Robert Zierolf, a friend and former colleague at CCM.
From 1984 until 1992, Mr. Kramer served as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's new music adviser and wrote commissioned pieces for the orchestra, including "Cincy in C," and "Rewind: A Semi-Suite." Other works performed by the orchestra included a February 1984 performance of "Moments In and Out of Time," which was played again later that month on tour at Carnegie Hall.
"Jonathan's sudden death is both shocking and a great loss. His remarkable ability to communicate through his music and through his program notes was an important asset for the CSO. We were very fortunate to have him as our colleague, and we will miss him very much," said CSO president Steven Monder.
His compositions were performed in more than 30 countries by major ensembles, including the London Philharmonic, Warsaw Philharmonic and the Seoul Philharmonic. In October 2003, his work was performed by the Santa Monica Symphony.
Besides writing the program notes for CSO concerts for 25 years, he also served as program annotator for the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, the National Orchestral Association and the Pittsburgh Symphony. A collection of his program notes, Listen to the Music, was published by Schirmer Books.
As a music theorist, Mr. Kramer wrote several books and articles and lectured throughout Europe and Asia. His books include The Time of Music, and an edited collection, Time in Contemporary Musical Thought. At the time of his death, he was completing a book on music and post-modernism.
Born in Hartford, Conn., Mr. Kramer graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University before continuing his education at the University of California, Berkeley, where he received master's and doctoral degrees.
Mr. Kramer earned numerous honors, including the Ohio Governor's Award for Individual Artists.
Surviving are his father, Maxwell Kramer; his wife, Deborah Bradley of New York City; a daughter, Stephanie Kramer of New York City; a son, Zachary Kramer of California; and their mother, Norma Kramer.
Memorial services were held in New York. Another memorial service will be held in the fall at Columbia University.
Memorials may be made to the Jonathan Kramer Memorial Fund, Department of Music, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027.
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