Fritz Kreisler, classical music composer

Fritz Kreisler image

Fritz Kreisler


Fritz Kreisler was lauded as one of the greatest masters of the violin. His playing was quintessentially Viennese, with a distinction of tone that was unmistakable, and an inclination towards expansive tempi, and expressive phrasing and vibrato. He commanded a passionate following of admirers and was among the earliest stars of the fledgling era of music recording.

Born in Vienna on February 2, 1875, Fritz was the son of Anna and Samuel Kreisler. His father was a well-known surgeon, but also an amateur musician that gave him his first lessons on the violin. He made his first appearance before a public audience at the age of seven. Indeed, Kreisler's talents at this young age must have shown great promise because shortly afterwards he was permitted to study at the Vienna Conservatory, despite the school's policy that no one under the age of fourteen be admitted. After three years of study at the Vienna Conservatory under Joseph Hellmesberge, Jr., he was taken to Paris for further instruction with Léo Delibes and Joseph Massart. At only twelve years of age, he won the Premier Grand Prix de Rome gold medal, besting forty other violinists and most nearly twice his age.

In 1888, Kreisler left Europe with the pianist Moriz Rosenthal for a tour of the United States, which brought him favorable reviews. Returning successfully to Vienna, he applied for a position in the Vienna Philharmonic, but was turned down by the concert master Arnold Rosé. Discouraged, Kreisler thought to give up music entirely and, following in the footsteps of his father, pursued a study of medicine. After a few years, he gave up the study and turned his efforts back towards the realm of art, albeit painting instead of music. This discipline, too, however, was unable to hold Kreisler's attention for long. After living in Paris and Rome, he returned to Vienna to enlist in the army. Only a year of service led him back to the violin. He resigned his commission and spent eight weeks in the country preparing for his return to music. A successful concert with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1899 set the stage, so to speak, for the remainder of Kreisler's career, and two successful concert tours of the United State in 1901 and 1903 set him firmly on the path to become one of the greatest violinist of his time.

With the outbreak of World War I, Kreisler returned to his native Austria from Switzerland to re-enlist in the army. Once again, however, is service was short after he was wounded in battle by the Russians and subsequently honorably discharged. He left Europe and took up residence in the United States for the remainder of the war. His intention was to still support his homeland with extensive concertizing. However, America's entry into the conflict left him in a rather awkward position, and he was resigned to live out quietly the duration of the war. He returned to Europe again in 1924, but his Jewish heritage eventually placed him in the crosshairs of the Nazi Party. Kreisler fled first to France, but left for America before the Nazi's invaded. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1943.

Kreisler continued to perform in public until 1947 and in broadcast performances until 1950. In his final years, he was plagued by hearing loss. He died in New York City on January 29, 1962 from a heart condition.

As a composer, Fritz Kreisler is most known for his encore pieces and the several cadenzas he wrote for the concertos of the standard repertoire. Of the latter, his cadenzas for the Beethoven concerto are frequently employed by violinists today. Among his encore pieces are the "Liebeslied" and "Liebesfreud." Some of his compositions he purposely wrote in the style of past composers and even attributed their composition to them. In 1935, he created quite a stir when he revealed that they were, in fact, his own creations. Critics were inflamed by this revelation, but the general public cared very little and continued to patronize his concerts.

Composer Title Date Action
Fritz Kreisler Liebesleid (arr. Rachmaninov) 02/24/2009 Play Add to playlist
Fritz Kreisler Recitative and Scherzo, Op. 6 01/09/2009 Play Add to playlist
Fritz Kreisler Recitativo and Scherzo 03/01/2009 Play Add to playlist
Fritz Kreisler Sicilienne and Rigaudon 01/13/2009 Play Add to playlist
Fritz Kreisler Tambourin Chinois, Op. 3 12/11/2009 Play Add to playlist
Fritz Kreisler Liebesfreud 01/25/2009 Play Add to playlist
Fritz Kreisler Gipsy Caprice 02/21/2009 Play Add to playlist
Fritz Kreisler Recitativo and Scherzo caprice 12/23/2011 Play
Fritz Kreisler Variations on a Theme of Corelli 01/25/2012 Play Add to playlist
Fritz Kreisler Liebesleid (arr. Rachmaninov) 03/27/2012 Play Add to playlist
Fritz Kreisler Lotus Land (after Scott) 02/21/2009 Play Add to playlist
Fritz Kreisler Syncopation 02/21/2009 Play Add to playlist
Fritz Kreisler Syncopation 11/16/2012 Play Add to playlist
Fritz Kreisler Liebesleid 11/16/2012 Play Add to playlist
Fritz Kreisler Liebesleid 05/08/2013 Play
Fritz Kreisler Praeludium and Allegro 06/25/2013 Play Add to playlist
Fritz Kreisler Liebesfreud 07/08/2013 Play Add to playlist