Ian Krouse

Professor--Theory and Composition


Office: 2643
Chair's office (310) 825-1280

American composer IAN KROUSE is one of the foremost composers of guitar music working today. Born in 1956 in Olney, Maryland, he was hailed in Gramophone as “one of the most communicative and intriguing young composers on the music scene today”. Soundboard described his music as "absorbing, brutal, beautiful, and harsh, all at the same time." 

He is especially known for his pioneering efforts in the development of a brand new medium, the ‘guitar quartet’, of which he has composed ten to date, an increasing number of which are now featured regularly in the touring repertories of the leading groups of our time, including the Aquarelle, Fire, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Zealand, Miscelánea, Mexican, and Versailles Guitar Quartets.  

During the current season the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet is touring with his 9th quartet, while the British group Aquarelle just released a new recording of his 4th on Chandos. Earlier this year he completed his 10th, a rock infused work commissioned by the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, currently preparing its premiere, called StarWaves, a ‘Second Labyrinth’, in the spirit of his earlier Labyrinth On A Theme of Led Zeppelin, which the composer recorded as a guitarist with the LAQG in 1995.

Of this work critic Josef Woodard wrote in the Los Angeles Times in 1996: “On fresher turf, Ian Krouse’s “Labyrinth” takes, as a conceptual springboard, the Led Zeppelin song “Friends.” Rather than using the chamber-rock angle as a novelty, a la the Kronos Quartet’s “Purple Haze,” the composer pays respect to Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page – one of rock’s great exotic riff makers – by extending the harmonic language of the original tune. Extra-classical guitar effects abounded, with the use of picks, slides and open tunings…a gutsy attempt to bridge different musical worlds.”

Up-and-comer Krystin O’Mara, a protégé of Jason Vieaux, just released the premiere recording of his Trois Tableaux d’Andersen, a solo work written when the composer was still in his 20s, which has awaited its recording debut for 32 years. Meanwhile, Duo Tapas is touring New Zealand with his brand new Incantation and Fire Dance for violin and guitar, while the Miscelánea quartet is reviving his fiendishly difficult 2nd quartet known as “Bulerías.”

Though he is widely known for his guitar music, he has written in nearly every musical genre including opera, and his works are performed and recorded hundreds of times each season worldwide by major artists, such as the Chicago Symphony, and Ukraine Radio and Television Orchestras, the Cairo, Armenian, and New Zealand Philharmonic Orchestras, the Mexico City, and Pasadena Chamber Orchestras, as well as the Aureole Trio, Dinosaur Annex, 20th Century Consort, Remix, Pacific Serenades, Dilijan Ensemble, and Los Angeles Chamber Singers, to name a few. In 2009 Urtext Digital Classics released to critical acclaim the compact disc premiere of his setting in Spanish of the Biblical text Cantar de los Cantares (Song of Songs) with soprano Jessica Rivera.

In March 2009, as the culmination of a US tour, Ms. Rivera sang Cantar de los Cantares at her Carnegie Hall debut with clarinetist Todd Palmer and pianist Maryanne Kim. In 2010 Mr. Krouse’s newest choral work, an a cappella setting of Walt Whitman’s Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking received its premiere performance by the May Festival Chorus of Cincinnati under the direction of the work’s dedicatee, conductor Robert Porco. Of Mr. Krouse’s choral music Nick Strimple wrote, in the American Choral Review: “Krouse’s work is varied, surprising, engaging, and gorgeous.” In July 2010, the Musashino Academia Musicae Wind Ensemble culminated a tour of Japan with a recording for Brain Records of Mr. Krouse’s Crónica del último año en la vida de un mexicano, a concerto for seven percussionists and wind ensemble.

Other recent premieres include the composer’s first two works in the Armenian language: Nocturnes, on poems by Metzarents, Mahari and Terian, for baritone and string quintet, conducted by the composer last year in Los Angeles, Tuscany and Yerevan, with baritone Vladimir Chernov and the UCLA Camarades string ensemble, and Fire of Sacrifice, on poetry of Charents, for soprano and chorus, premiered earlier this year by Vatsche Barsoumian and the Lark Geghard Choir. Of Nocturnes, critic Charles Fierro wrote in 2010: “The most striking work of the day was the song cycle Nocturnes for baritone and string quintet…The metaphors of darkness and light, both physical and psychological, inform the words and the music with depth and empathy. The trajectory of Krouse’s score is powerful because it is complex and truthful. His expert use of a widely extended tonality conveys strong emotion, as witnessed by the enthusiastic audience response. This is music that will repay many hearings. It clearly deserves a place in the standard repertory.” Upon the completion of his current commission, settings in Ladino of several Medieval Sephardic songs for Suzanna Guzman and the Debussy Trio (flute, harp and viola),

Mr. Krouse will devote much of the upcoming year to the completion of his Armenian Requiem, an evening length work for soloists, choir and orchestra, commissioned by the Lark Musical Society in honor of the ‘100th year Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide’, to be premiered in Los Angeles in 2015.

Throughout his career he has received dozens of awards, including an AT&T American Encores Grant (for the second performance of an orchestral work), three opera development grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and several from the American Composer’s Forum and Meet the Composer, as well as those from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations and the Atlantic-Richfield Corporation.  He has won the BMI Award and the Gaudeamus Festival Prize, was a semi-finalist in the Kennedy Center Friedheim Awards, and a finalist in the Barlow Competition, and Big Ten Commissioning Project. 

His works have been recorded and released by Brain, Chandos, Delos, GSP, GHA, Koch, Lisaddell, Naxos, RCM, and Urtext Digital Classics among others.  His principal teachers have been James Hopkins, Morten Lauridsen and Halsey Stevens at USC. Early studies in composition at Indiana University at South Bend with Barton McLean, and David Barton, were later augmented with those at USC with Earle Brown, William Kraft, and Leonard Rosenman, as well as master classes with Pierre Boulez and Witold Lutoslawski. 

Mr. Krouse, who holds a Bachelor of Music degree, as well as Performer’s and Composer’s Certificates from Indiana University at South Bend, and Master of Music and Doctorate of Music degrees in composition from the University of Southern California, is a Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he serves as the Chair of the Division of Composition and Theory.  He resides in Southern California with his three children.

Visit Ian Krouse's website at: http://www.iankrouse.com/index2.html