Fritz Kreisler (02.02.1875 – 29.01.1962), the Austrian-born, America violinist was also a “secret” composer of short violin pieces¹. Kreisler was born in Vienna and was a true child prodigy entering the Vienna Conservatoire at the age of seven. By the age of 12, he won a first prize at the Paris Conservatoire and began touring as a violinist by the age of 14.
After a brief period studying medicine at university and then becoming an Austrian army officer Kreisler returned to performance around the turn of the century. Kreisler is the dedicatee of Elgar’s Violin Concerto in B minor, Op. 61 and he gave the first performance of the work in London in 1910, with the composer conducting. Sadly plans for them to record the piece for HMV never came about. Instead Elgar made a recording of it with the teenaged Yehudi Menuhin in 1932.² Fritz Kreisler was one of the earliest stars of the gramophone age and fortunately many of his archive recordings are still avialable. Interested readers should investigate the series on the Documents label and on the Naxos
Historical label (in the Great Violinists series) to experience for themselves Kreisler’s characteristic intensive vibrato and economical bowing.
However our top choice of archival Kreisler recordings must be Fritz Kreisler: The Charming Maverick issued in 2009 by Warner Classics.
¹ His Classical Manuscripts, published as his arrangements of works by composers such as Antonio Vivaldi, François Couperin, Johann Stamitz and others, were eventually admitted to be works of his own.