Louis Krasner was born in Cherkasy, in present-day Ukraine. He arrived in the United States at the age of 5, and graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music in 1922. He continued his studies with Lucien Capet in Paris, Otakar Ševčík in Písek, Czechoslovakia, and Carl Flesch in Berlin. His concert career began in Europe, where he championed the concertos of Joseph Achron and Alfredo Casella.
In 1935 he commissioned Alban Berg's Violin Concerto, which he premiered in April 1936 in Barcelona, with Hermann Scherchen conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He also premiered Arnold Schoenberg's Violin Concerto in December 1940, with Leopold Stokowski leading the Philadelphia Orchestra. Among the American composers whose works he premiered were Roger Sessions, Henry Cowell and Roy Harris.
Krasner retired from solo performing to become concertmaster of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra 1944-1949. From 1949 to 1972 he was professor of music at Syracuse University. In 1976 he joined the faculties of the New England Conservatory of Music and the Berkshire Music Center. He won the 1983 Sanford Medal from Yale University and the 1995 Commonwealth Award.
He died in 1995 in Brookline, Massachusetts, aged 91.
Krasner owned one of the only surviving guitars made by Antonio Stradivari. He purchased the guitar from London based dealer W.E. Hill & Sons through Rembert Wurlitzer Co. in 1934. The antique guitar, made of spruce and maple, is not quite as large as the modern instrument and has five double strings. It is embellished with a decorative carved rose and inlaid mother-of-pearl. In 1986 the guitar was purchased for $165,000 by the Shrine to Music Museum at the University of South Dakota.
- Campbell, Margaret (15 June 1995). "OBITUARY: Louis Krasner". The Independent. London. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
- Kozinn, Allan (5 May 1995). "Louis Krasner, Violinist and Teacher, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
- "Krasner, Louis, 1903-. Papers: Guide". Archived from the original on 2016-02-19. Retrieved 2008-11-12.
- Commonwealth Awards
- Page, Tim (January 30, 1986). "South Dakota Museum Gets Stradivari Guitar". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 3 August 2019.