Monday, February 8, 2010

Fritz Kreisler

Friedrich (Fritz) Kreisler was an Austrian violinist and composer born on February 2, 1875 - it is assumed that Jascha Heifetz was born on the same day in February in 1901. Kreisler is rememberd for his warm sound, his singing style of playing, and for the many violin pieces he composed which became a permanent part of the violin repertory. As were Tartini, Vivaldi, Paganini, Spohr, Wieniawski, and Sarasate, he was a violinist whose compositions were not quickly forgotten. His attention was never spent on a showy display of brilliant technique. It has been said that he practiced sparingly or not at all. His early studies were at the Vienna Conservatory under Jacob Dont and Joseph Hellmesberger (Jr.), among many others. He also studied with Joseph Lambert Massart, from whom he almost certainly picked up a new thing for violinists (back then) called the continuous vibrato. On November 10, 1888, he made his U.S. debut (age 12) in New York City. He then toured the U.S. for a brief time. As a teenager, he tried joining the Vienna Philharmonic but was not accepted. Shortly thereafter, he gave music up entirely in order to study medicine. Then, in 1899, he took up the violin again and did not stop concertizing until about 1950. In 1910, he commissioned Edward Elgar's violin concerto which he subsequently premiered, though he never recorded the work. Between 1924 and 1938 he lived in Berlin (despite being semi-Jewish) then in France (until 1939.) He lived in the U.S. from 1940 until his death on January 29, 1962, at (almost) age 87. Several recordings of his are posted on YouTube, including an arrangement of the first Paganini Concerto in D, re-orchestrated and re-harmonized.

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