Tuesday, August 28, 2012

William Kroll

William Kroll was an American violinist, teacher, and composer born (in New York) on January 30, 1901.  As were violinists Joseph Achron, Christian Sinding, Benjamin Goddard, Ottokar Novacek, and Arthur Hartmann, he is famous for a single composition, Banjo and Fiddle, which most concert violinists learn and play at one time or another.  He began his violin studies with his father (a violinist) at age 4.  At age 9 or 10, he went to Berlin to continue his studies with Henri Marteau, Joseph Joachim’s successor at the Berlin Advanced School for Music.  He returned to the U.S. after World War I broke out in 1914.  In New York, he studied at Juilliard (Institute of Musical Arts) with Franz Kneisel from 1916 to 1921.  He actually made his public debut in New York at age 14.  One source describes his debut as “prodigious.”  Although Kroll concertized as a soloist in Europe and the Americas, he dedicated a great deal of time to chamber music as a member of various chamber music ensembles, well-known in their time: the Elshuco Trio (William Kroll, Willem Winneke, and Aurelio Giorni, 1922-1929), the South Mountain Quartet (1923-), the Coolidge Quartet (William Kroll, Nicolai Berezowsky, Nicolas Moldavan, and Victor Gottlieb, 1936-1944), and the Kroll Quartet (William Kroll, Louis Graeler, Nathan Gordon, and Avron Twerdowsky, 1944-1969.)  The Coolidge Quartet was being paid $400.00 per concert in 1938, a good sum in those days – the equivalent of $6,550.00 today.  From a very early age, he taught at several music schools, namely Juilliard (1922-1938), Mannes College (1943-), the Peabody Conservatory (1947-1965), the Cleveland Institute (1964-1967), and Queens College (1969-)  Kroll made very few commercial recordings but an interesting one is a recording of three Mozart Sonatas available here for about $120.00.  It includes the famous K454 sonata which Mozart wrote in 1784 for Regina Strinasacchi, one of the very first female concert violinists.  You can listen to a short Kroll recording on YouTube here.  Among his violins were a 1709 Stradivarius (the Ernst Strad, aka as the Lady Halle Strad, owned and played by Heinrich Ernst, and, later, by Wilma Neruda) and a 1775 G.B. Guadagnini.  Kroll died (in Boston) on March 10, 1980, at age 79.  


  1. As was his father, Kroll's uncle was a violinist. His cousin (Leon Kroll) was a painter, known as the dean of American nude painters.