Kreisler, Fritz

Friedrich Kreisler (February 2, 1875 – January 29, 1962) was an American violinist and composer who was born in Austria. He was famed for his lovely tone and expressive phrasing. He was one of the most well-known violin masters of his day and is regarded as one of the best violinists. Like many other outstanding violinists of his period, he had a distinct sound that was instantly recognizable as his own. Despite being influenced by the Franco-Belgian school in many ways, his style is reminiscent of pre-war Vienna's gemütlich (cozy) lifestyle. Kreisler composed several violin works, including solos for encores like "Liebesleid" and "Liebesfreud." Some of Kreisler's works were purportedly pastiches in the style of other composers. They were first attributed to older composers such as Gaetano Pugnani, Giuseppe Tartini, and Antonio Vivaldi before Kreisler confirmed that he wrote them in 1935. When opponents objected, Kreisler responded that the compositions had already been considered worthy: "The label changes, but the value remains," he stated. He also composed operettas such as Apple Blossoms in 1919 and Sissy in 1932, a string quartet, and cadenzas for Brahms' Violin Concerto, Paganini's D major Violin Concerto, and Beethoven's Violin Concerto, among others. His cadenzas for Beethoven's concerto are among the most popular among violinists today.

He composed the music for Josef von Sternberg's 1936 film The King Steps Out, which was based on the early years of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Kreisler recorded and performed his version of Paganini's D major Violin Concerto's first movement. The orchestral opening is redone in some sections, and the movement is rescored and reharmonized in several areas. The overall impact is that of work from the late 1800s. Kreisler owned several antique violins produced by luthiers Antonio Stradivari, Pietro Guarneri, Giuseppe Guarneri, and Carlo Bergonzi, most of which were renamed after him. He also owned an 1860 Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume violin, which he frequently used as his second violin and often leased to Josef Hassid, a young prodigy. His Giuseppe Guarneri was presented to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., in 1952, and it is still used for concerts there.

Kreisler's recording style is similar to that of his younger contemporary Mischa Elman, with a preference for spacious tempi, a continuous and varied vibrato, expressive phrasing, and a melodic approach to passagework. Kreisler used portamento and rubato extensively. However, in more significant works from the standard repertoire, such as Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, the two violinists' methods are less similar than in lesser pieces. In his 1928 autobiographical novel Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, Siegfried Sassoon describes a trip to a Kreisler concert. Kriesler (later a subsidiary of Philips), an Australian electronics and consumer goods business, was allegedly named after Fritz Kreisler but purposefully misspelled the name to prevent potential legal action from third parties.

Viola Compositions of Fritz Kreisler | Animato Strings


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