Friedrich "Fritz" Kreisler (February 2, 1875 –
January 29, 1962) was an Austrian-born violinist and composer.
One of the most noted violin masters of his day, and regarded as one
of the greatest violin masters of all time, he was known for his sweet
tone and expressive phrasing. Like many great violinists of his
generation, he produced a characteristic sound which was immediately
recognizable as his own. Although it derived in many respects from the
Franco-Belgian school, his style is nonetheless reminiscent of the
gemütlich (cozy) lifestyle of pre-war Vienna.
5 Further sources
6 External links
Kreisler was born in Vienna, the son of Anna (her original Hebrew
name, listed in her sons’ birth certificates was "Chaje Riwe"
(rendered as "Chaje Ribe" in Hugo's record) (née Reaches) and Samuel
Kreisler, a doctor. Of Jewish heritage, he was however baptised
at the age of 12. He studied at the
Vienna Conservatory and in Paris,
where his teachers included Anton Bruckner, Léo Delibes, Jakob Dont,
Joseph Hellmesberger Jr., Joseph Massart, and Jules Massenet. While
there, he won the "Premier Grand Prix de Rome" gold medal at the age
of 12, competing against 40 other players, all of whom were at least
20 years of age.
He made his United States debut at the
Steinway Hall in New York City
on November 10, 1888, and his first tour of the United States in
1888–1889 with Moriz Rosenthal. He then returned to
applied for a position in the
Vienna Philharmonic, but was turned down
by the concertmaster Arnold Rosé. As a result, he left music to study
medicine. He spent a brief time in the army before returning to the
violin in 1899, when he gave a concert with the Berlin Philharmonic
conducted by Arthur Nikisch. It was this concert and a series of
American tours from 1901 to 1903 that brought him real acclaim.
In 1910, Kreisler gave the premiere of Sir Edward Elgar's Violin
Concerto, a work commissioned by and dedicated to him. He served
briefly in the Austrian
World War I
World War I before being honourably
discharged after he was wounded. He arrived in New York on November
24, 1914, and spent the remainder of the war in America. He
returned to Europe in 1924, living first in Berlin, then moving to
France in 1938. Shortly thereafter, at the outbreak of World War II,
he settled once again in the United States, becoming a naturalized
citizen in 1943. He lived there for the rest of his life, giving his
last public concert in 1947, and broadcasting performances for a few
years after that.
Fritz Kreisler, Harold Bauer, Pablo Casals, and
Walter Damrosch at
Carnegie Hall on March 13, 1917
On April 26, 1941, he was involved in a serious traffic accident.
Struck by a truck while crossing a street in New York, he suffered a
fractured skull and was in a coma for over a week.
In his later years, he suffered from not only some hearing loss but
also sight deterioration due to cataracts.
Kreisler died of a heart condition aggravated by old age in New York
City in 1962. He was interred in a private mausoleum in Woodlawn
Cemetery, The Bronx, New York City.
Kreisler wrote a number of pieces for the violin, including solos for
encores, such as "Liebesleid" and "Liebesfreud". Some of Kreisler's
compositions were pastiches ostensibly in the style of other
composers. They were originally ascribed to earlier composers, such as
Giuseppe Tartini and Antonio Vivaldi, and then, in
1935, Kreisler revealed that it was he who wrote the pieces. When
critics complained, Kreisler replied that they had already deemed the
compositions worthy: "The name changes, the value remains", he said.
He also wrote operettas, including Apple Blossoms in 1919 and Sissy
in 1932, a string quartet, and cadenzas, including ones for Brahms's D
major violin concerto, Paganini's D major violin concerto, and
Beethoven's D major violin concerto. His cadenzas for the Beethoven
concerto are the ones most often played by violinists today.
He wrote the music for the 1936 movie
The King Steps Out
The King Steps Out directed by
Josef von Sternberg, based on the early years of Empress Elisabeth of
Kreisler performed and recorded his own version of the first movement
of Paganini's D major violin concerto. The movement is rescored and in
some places reharmonised, and the orchestral introduction is
completely rewritten in some places. The overall effect is of a
The mausoleum of
Fritz Kreisler in Woodlawn Cemetery
Kreisler owned several antique violins made by luthiers Antonio
Stradivari, Pietro Guarneri, Giuseppe Guarneri, and Carlo Bergonzi,
most of which eventually came to bear his name. He also owned a
Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume violin of 1860, which he often used as his
second violin, and which he often loaned to the young prodigy Josef
Hassid. In 1952 he donated his
Giuseppe Guarneri to the Library of
Congress in Washington, D.C. where it remains in use for performances
given in the library.
On recordings, Kreisler's style resembles that of his younger
contemporary Mischa Elman, with a tendency toward expansive tempi, a
continuous and varied vibrato, expressive phrasing, and a melodic
approach to passage-work. Kreisler makes considerable use of
portamento and rubato. The two violinists' approaches
are less similar in big works of the standard repertoire, such as
Violin Concerto, than in smaller pieces.
A trip to a Kreisler concert is recounted in Siegfried Sassoon's 1928
autobiographical novel Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man.
See: List of compositions by Fritz Kreisler
See also: "Musical Hoax"
Kreisler's work has been reasonably well represented on both LP and CD
reissues. Original masters were made on
RCA Victor and HMV. His final
recordings were made in 1950.
Bach Concerto for Two Violins in D minor,
BWV 1043, with Efrem
Zimbalist (second violin), and a string quartet. rec. January 4, 1915;
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61, with Leo Blech, Berlin
State Opera Orchestra. rec. December 15, 1926;
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61, with John Barbirolli,
London Philharmonic Orchestra. rec. June 16, 1936;
Beethoven Sonata No. 8 in G major, Op. 30, No. 3, with Sergei
Rachmaninoff, pF. rec. March 22, 1928;
Beethoven Sonata No. 9 in A major, Op. 47, with Franz Rupp, pf. rec.
June 17–19, 1936;
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77 with Leo Blech, Berlin State
Opera Orchestra, rec. November 21, 1927;
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77 with John Barbirolli, London
Symphony Orchestra, rec. June 18, 1936;
Grieg Sonata No. 3 in C minor, Op. 45, with Sergei Rachmaninoff, pf.
rec. December 14–15, 1928;
Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64, with Leo Blech, Berlin
State Opera Orchestra. rec. December 9, 1926;
Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64, with Landon Ronald,
London Symphony Orch. rec. April 8, 1935;
Violin Concerto in D major, K. 218, with Landon Ronald, London
Symphony Orchestra, rec. December 1, 1924;
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 6 (recomposed by Kreisler),
with Eugene Ormandy, Philadelphia Orchestra, rec. December 13, 1936;
Schubert Sonata No. 5 in A major, D. 574, with Sergei Rachmaninoff,
pf. rec. December 20, 1928;
attrib. Vivaldi, RV Anh. 62 (composed by Kreisler)
Violin Concerto in
C major, with Donald Voorhees,
RCA Victor Orchestra, rec. May 2, 1945.
Composed in 1917 after an 18th century Arabo-Spanish Gypsy song.
Performed by Carrie Rehkopf (2:54)
Problems playing this file? See media help.
Apple Blossoms (1919) – operetta – co-composer;
Continental Varieties (1934) – revue – featured composer for
"Caprice Viennois" and "La Gitana";
Reunion in New York (1940) – revue – featured composer for "Stars
in Your Eyes";
Rhapsody (1944) – musical – composer.
Kreisler, Fritz (1915). Four Weeks in the Trenches. Boston, New York:
Houghton Mifflin. OCLC 1161448.
^ a b "
Fritz Kreisler Dies Here at 86; Violinist Composed 200 Works;
Made His U.S. Concert Debut in 1888 at 13. Was Known for His
Arrangements". New York Times. January 30, 1962. Retrieved July 3,
2013. Fritz Kreisler, the world-famous violinist and composer, died
yesterday. He would have been 87 years old on Friday. ...
^ Morgenstern, Hans (1 January 2009). "Jüdisches biographisches
Lexikon: eine Sammlung von bedeutenden Persönlichkeiten jüdischer
Herkunft ab 1800". Lit – via Google Books.
^ Stepansky, Paul E. (1 January 1986). "Freud, Appraisals and
Reappraisals: Contributions to Freud Studies". Analytic Press.
ISBN 0-88163-038-1 – via Google Books.
Fritz Kreisler – Biography & History – AllMusic".
^ "The world of music". The Independent. Dec 14, 1914. Retrieved July
^ Life magazine, May 12, 1941 (pp. 32–33)
^ Fritz Kreisler: Love's Sorrow, Love's Joy, by Amy Biancolli (Amadeus
^ Catalog Record for the vocal score of Apple Blossoms
^ Second Fiddle by Philip Kass
Violin by Giuseppe Guarneri, Cremona, ca. 1730, "Kreisler"".
"John McCormack, Great Irish Tenor, in Houston Thursday". The Houston
Post. 5 Dec 1915. p. 29 – via Newspapers.com.
Fritz Kreisler's page at Carl Fischer
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fritz Kreisler.
Fritz Kreisler at AllMusic
Fritz Kreisler at the
Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
Fritz Kreisler at Project Gutenberg
Works by or about
Fritz Kreisler at Internet Archive
Fritz Kreisler at
LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
Free scores by
Fritz Kreisler at the International Music Score Library
An assembled edition of original pieces and arrangements for violin
and piano by Fritz Kreisler. From Sibley Music Library Digital Scores
Fritz Kreisler String Quartet in a minor Soundbites & discussion
Fritz Kreisler on Victor Records from the Encyclopedic
Discography of Victor Recordings (EDVR)
Fritz Kreisler on the
Library of Congress
Library of Congress jukebox
Awards and achievements
Charles B. Warren
Cover of Time Magazine
February 2, 1925
William Mackenzie King
ISNI: 0000 0001 0857 7654
BNF: cb13896157h (data)