Kreisler Fritz

2 February 1875, Vienna - 29 January 1962, New York


Fritz Kreisler was an Austrian violinist and composer. To our days, Kreisler is considered one of the world's finest violinists. Fritz Kreisler was born in Vienna into a doctor's family. Music was often played at home, and on Saturdays, quartets were regularly played. At the age of four, when he received his first real violin as a present, Fritz played the Austrian national anthem himself. At the age of four, he studied the violin with Jacques Aubert and rather soon, he achieved great success. At the age of seven, he gained the right to study at the Vienna Conservatory (now the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts), becoming the youngest student in its history, admitted as an exception - the rules allowed no younger than 14 years old to enter the conservatory.

At the age of ten, Kreisler graduated with a gold medal from the Vienna Conservatoire. The violinist continued his musical education at the Paris Conservatoire, winning the Premier Prix de Conservatoire in 1887, competing against 40 violinists, all of whom were ten years or older than him. Two years later, the young violinist gave his first concert in the United States with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and then went on to make a successful tour through America with pianist Moriz Rosenthal. On 9 January 1888, Kreisler made his debut in Boston. His career as a concert violinist began. On 12 May 1902, the musician gave his first concert in London. The British music community enthusiastically received the violinist and in 1904, the Philharmonic Society of London decorated him with a Golden Medal.

The composer Edward Elgar dedicated his Violin Concerto to the violinist that performed was the first to perform it undrt the baton of the composer on 10 November 1910. In 1905, Kreisler created a cycle of violin pieces entitled “Classical Manuscripts” - 19 miniatures, written as imitations of the 18th century classical works. For the purposes of mystification, Kreisler concealed his authorship by passing off the pieces as transcribing.

With the outbreak of World War I, the violinist was called up for military service in the Austrian army as a lieutenant, but was soon mustered out of service after being wounded, and continued his musical activities. He played to packed houses in all of his European and American tours.

Kreisler was very kind and generous. The musician spent most of his fortune for charitable purposes.

From 1923 to 1925, Fritz toured to the East, Australia and New Zealand. Kreisler was an anti-fascist. After the Nazis came to power, the family moved to Paris, and in 1939 left for New York, USA.

On 26 April 1941, a truck hit Kreisler that was crossing Madison Avenue in New York. He was badly injured and for several days, his condition was considered hopeless. A month later, however, doctors were in no doubt that the musician's life was not in danger. Then an exciting question arose: would he ever be able to play the violin again? By the end of May, he already took the violin in his hands. Moreover, at the beginning of 1942 he had already made an album of recordings of his favorite compositions with the orchestra.

Kreisler wrote 55 works and over 80 transcribings and adaptations of various concerti and pieces, sometimes entirely revised original work. Nowadays, compositions by Kreisler are widely performed and enjoy great success with the audience. He also wrote operettas, including “Apple trees in bloom” in 1919 and “Sisi” in 1932.

Since the beginning of the recording era in the 1900s, Kreisler was immediately very active in this new form of performance in front of a microphone. He realized the immense possibilities of this type of performing activity, both for the popularization of classical and light music, and for the establishment and spreading of his own famousness in the remotest corners of the world. In the early 1930s, the Beethoven Society of London was able to arrange recordings of all of Beethoven's Sonatas for piano and violin performed by Fritz Kreisler and pianist Franz Rupp.

Fritz Kreisler was a regular on the Bell Telephone Hour in the 1940s, a popular programme broadcasting classical music concerts performed by the world's greatest stars over the telephone for the whole of America.

In 1950, Kreisler left the stage as one of the most beloved by audience virtuosos of the first half of the 20th century. His performance was notable for its technical flawlessness, precise phrasing, dainty and cordial sound, by dashing rhythm.

The vibrato technique was also one of his trademarks. Kreisler was unlike any other violinist in his bowing and stroke technique. He played with the bow away from the base and closer to the neck of the violon in short but dense strokes, making ample use of portamento1), saturating the cantilena2) with 'accents-breaths' or using portamentation to separate one sound from another with soft caesura3). The result was an austere, 'sensual' cantilena with a soft 'matte' timbre.

Shortly before the maestro's death (he died on 29 January 1962), David Oistrakh visited him in New York. "I had an overwhelming desire to see the great artist, to have a conversation with him. The violinist not hear and saw well. Kreisler was touched to learn from the posters, which I had brought to him that in Moscow his eighty-fifth birthday had been marked by a Gala concert at the Conservatory, with a programme consisting entirely of his works performed by the students in my class, narrated Oistrakh. “I have been forgotten. I already belong to the past," noted Kreisler. He was, of course, very modest. No one has forgotten him. His almost half-century of creativity has left a deep mark, going down in the history of violin music as the "Kreisler Era".
Kreisler is buried in a private mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York.

Kreisler owned several antique violins made by masters Antonio Stradivari, Pietro Guarneri, Giuseppe Guarneri and Carlo Bergonzi, most of which eventually came to bear his name. He also had a Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume violin of 1860, which he often used as a second violin.

He was married to Harriet Lies, a New York-born divorcée who was a Vassar graduate, the daughter of a German American tobacco tradesman. They had no children, and Harriet devoted her life to his career. They were married for 60 years, until his death in 1962.