Happy birthday Fritz Kreisler!

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Fritz Kreisler (February 2, 1875 – January 29, 1962) was an Austrian violinist and composer who is known for his expressive phrasing and characteristically sweet tone. Although he briefly gave up his music to study medicine and then join the army, he returned to the violin in his early twenties.

Kreisler wrote a number of pieces for the violin, including several acclaimed. compositions which were originally attributed to earlier composers like Giuseppe Tartini and Antonio Vivaldi. When Kreisler revealed later that he was the original composer, critics tried to attack the work. Kreisler responded, "The name changes, the value remains."

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Friedrich "Fritz" Kreisler began playing the violin as a young child, studying at the Vienna Conservatory and in Paris under teachers like Anton Bruckner and Jules Massenet. When he was 13, he made his debut in New York City at Steinway Hall, and soon toured the United States with Polish pianist Moriz Rosenthal. He then returned to Austria and auditioned for the Vienna Philharmonic. He was unsuccessful, and opted to study medicine like his father.

In 1899, Kreisler returned to the violin and gave a concert with the Berlin Philharmonic. A subsequent series of tours in America between 1901 and 1903 earned him true acclaim and helped him establish his performance career in earnest. In 1910, Kreisler gave the premiere of Sir Edward Elgar's Violin Concerto, commissioned by and dedicated to him.

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Following a brief period of service in the Austrian Army during WWI, from which he was honorably discharged, Kreisler spent the rest of the war in America. In 1943, he would become a naturalized citizen of the United States.

 

Kreisler's own compostions for the violin include the operettas Apple Blossoms in 1919 and Sissy in 1932, along with cadenzas for several major concertos.

 

Kreisler owned several antique violins by luthiers Antonio Stradivari, Pietro Guarneri, Giuseppe Guarneri, and Carlo Bergonzi. 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 violin prodigy Josef Hassid.

In 1941, Kreisler was seriously injured in the first of two traffic accidents that would deeply impact his life. While crossing a street in New York, he was hit by a car and fractured his skull. He was also in a coma for a week. He recovered and continued to give concerts until 1950. Near the end of his life, Kreisler was in a car accident which left him blind and deaf for the rest of his life. He was interred in a private mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Sunday, 02 February 2014
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