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The Kronos Quartet Biography

Home > Music > K > Kronos Quartet, The > Biography

Birth Place: San Francisco, California, United States
Years Active: 1973-present
Genres: Contemporary Classical

Kronos Quartet is an American string quartet based in San Francisco. Kronos Quartet plays contemporary classical music and was founded in 1973 by violinist David Harrington. Since 1978, they are based in San Francisco, California. Since 1985, the quartet's music has been released on Nonesuch Records.

Early recordings by the quartet contain contemporary classical music and adaptations of more popular music, such as jazz and rock and roll. Since the 1980s, and especially with the release of “Cadenza on the Night Plain,” written as a collaboration between composer Terry Riley and the quartet, much of the quartet's repertoire and album releases contain music written especially for them, by composers such as Terry Riley, Kevin Volans, Henryk Górecki, and Ástor Piazzolla.

Kronos has recorded five soundtracks including the 1998 score by Philip Glass for the 1931 silent movie “Dracula,” and has contributed to the soundtracks of five other movies, including “Heat” and “21 Grams.” Outside the genre of classical music, Kronos has collaborated with a great number of other artists, especially pop artists, such as Joan Armatrading, Dave Matthews Band, Andy Summers, Nelly Furtado, Amon Tobin, Nine Inch Nails, Faith No More, Tiger Lillies and David Grisman.

The quartet has achieved considerable commercial and critical success and by 1998 -- the quartet's 25th anniversary – they had sold more than 1.5 million albums. Many of Kronos' albums have entered various Billboard charts. Their 1992 album “Pieces of Africa” reached #1 in the Billboard World Albums chart. In 1998, the quartet worked with the Dave Matthews Band on their album, “Before These Crowded Streets.” The quartet won a Grammy for the 2003 album “Lyric Suite.” In 2007 Kronos appeared on Nine Inch Nails’ remix album, “Year Zero Remixed.”

In 2009, the quartet contributed an acoustic version of “Dark Was the Night” for the AIDS benefit album, “Dark Was the Night” produced by the Red Hot Organization. In 2013, the record label Anti- released the album “Aheym” featuring the first recordings of The National’s Bryce Dressner’s compositions, performed by Kronos Quartet.