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Kronos Quartet is a string quartet founded by violinist David Harrington in 1973 in Seattle, Washingtonmarker. Since 1978, the quartet has been based in San Francisco, Californiamarker. The longest-running combination of performers (from 1978 to 1999) had Harrington and John Sherba on violin, Hank Dutt on viola, and Joan Jeanrenaud on cello. In 1999, Joan Jeanrenaud left Kronos because she was "eager for something new"; she was replaced by Jennifer Culp who, in turn, left in 2005 and was replaced by Jeffrey Zeigler. With almost forty studio albums to their credit and having performed worldwide, they were called "probably the most famous 'new music' group in the world" and were praised in philosophical studies of music for the inclusiveness of their repertoire.

By the time the quartet celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary, in 1999, they had a repertoire of over 600 works, which included 400 string quartets written for them, more than 3,000 performances, seven first-prize ASCAP awards, Edison Awards in classical and popular music, and had sold more than 1.5 million records.

New music

Kronos specializes in new music and has a long history of commissioning new works. In fact, over 600 works have been created for the Kronos Quartet. They have worked with many minimalist composers including Arvo Pärt, Henryk Górecki, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Roberto Carnevale, Terry Riley, and Kevin Volans; collaborators hail from a diversity of countries--Kaija Saariaho from Finland, Pēteris Vasks from Latvia, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh from Azerbaijanmarker, Roberto Paci Dalò from Italy, and Osvaldo Golijov from Argentinamarker. Some of Kronos' "highly coveted string-quartet arrangements" were published in 2007.

Under 30 Project

When Kronos turned 30, in 2003, they decided on a commissioning process for composers under the age of 30, in the hope of bringing some of the talented young composers to light. The program is now run in cooperation with Carnegie Hallmarker, Cal Performances at the University of California, Berkeleymarker, and the Montalvo Arts Center. The first recipient was Alexandra du Bois (at the time a student at Indiana University, later a Juilliard Schoolmarker graduate), followed by Perez Santiago (born in Mexico in 1973), and Dan Visconti (born in Illinois in 1982); in 2007, Israeli composer Aviya Kopelman became the fourth.

Diverse genres

Kronos covers a very broad range of musical genres: Mexican folk, experimental, pre-classical early music, movie soundtracks (Requiem for a Dream, Heat, The Fountain), jazz and tango. Kronos has even recorded adaptations of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze", Sigur Rós's "Flugufrelsarinn", Television's "Marquee Moon", and Raymond Scott's "Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals".

Composers aside, Kronos has teamed up with artists from around the world, including Bollywood playback singer Asha Bhosle; Mexican-American painter Gronk; the American soprano Dawn Upshaw; jazz composer/performer Pat Metheny; Mexicanmarker rockers Café Tacuba; and the Romanian gypsy band Taraf de Haidouks.

Kronos has performed live with the likes of the late poet Allen Ginsberg, Astor Piazzolla, the Modern Jazz Quartet, Tom Waits, David Bowie, and Björk, and has appeared on recordings with such diverse artists as singer-songwriters Dave Matthews Band, Nelly Furtado, Rokia Traore, Joan Armatrading, Brazilian electronica artist Amon Tobin, Texas yodeler Don Walser, Faith No More, Tiger Lillies and David Grisman.

Most recently, Kronos appears on Nine Inch Nails' latest remix album, Year Zero Remixed, released November 20, 2007, doing a rendition of the track Another Version of the Truth. They also performed Lee Brooks' score for the short film 2081 , based on the Kurt Vonnegut short story "Harrison Bergeron."

Awards and recognition

Le Diapason d'Or de Mai
Rolf Schock Prize
  • 1999 Royal Swedish Academy of Music for Musical Arts in Music
Musical America
  • 2003 Musicians of the Year
Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences
  • 2005 The Recording Academy President's Merit Award


I've always wanted the string quartet to be vital, and energetic, and alive, and cool, and not afraid to kick ass and be absolutely beautiful and ugly if it has to be. But it has to be expressive of life. To tell the whole story with grace and humor and depth. And to tell the whole story, if possible.
:– David Harrington


Published music


  • 1995 - Musical Outsiders: An American Legacy - Harry Partch, Lou Harrison, and Terry Riley. Directed by Michael Blackwood.


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