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Of all the great violinists of the past, Fritz Kreisler is perhaps the easiest to listen to. The reason is not far to seek. Not only did Kreisler make a consistently beautiful sound—he had one of the loveliest, yet most individual tones—but he played with a relaxed ease that seemed to invite the listener into the music. Not for him the stressful, tense playing of some of today’s soloists. He seemed to have all the time in the world to play each phrase; and that timing was just one aspect of the art which concealed art.

Friedrich ‘Fritz’ Kreisler was born in Vienna on 2 February 1875, the son of Sigmund Freud’s family physician, and could read music when he was three. His first violin lessons came from his Polish father Salomon, an enthusiastic amateur, and he went on to Jacques Auber, leader of the Ringtheater orchestra. In 1882 he became the youngest student admitted to the Vienna Conservatory (studying violin with Josef Hellmesberger Jnr, theory with Anton Bruckner) and made his début at Carlsbad (now Karlovy Vary).

At ten he won the gold medal at the Conservatory, was given a three-quarter-size Amati by friends and transferred to the Paris Conservatoire (violin with Joseph Massart, composition with Leo Delibes). He met Cesar Franck, played in the Pasdeloup Orchestra and in 1887 took a first prize in violin. In 1888/9 he toured America with the pianist Moriz Rosenthal. He spent two years in Vienna, broadening his education; thought of following his father’s profession and completed two years’ medical training; then did his military service. In 1896 he decided on music and began his career as a travelling virtuoso. He toured Russia, met Glazunov, found a wealthy sponsor and gradually advanced himself, getting to know Brahms, Joachim, Wolf and Schoenberg.

In January 1898 he made his concerto début in Vienna with Bruch’s G minor, conducted by Hans Richter, and a year later he had an even greater success when he played Bruch’s D minor, Vieuxtemps’s F sharp minor and Paganini’s Non più mesta Variations for his début with the Berlin Philharmonic under Josef Rebicek. In November 1899 he was back in Berlin to play the Mendelssohn E minor under Arthur Nikisch. In 1900 he toured America and in 1902 he first appeared in London, with Richter conducting. His marriage to Harriet Lies that year was crucial to his career, as she organized and motivated him. In 1904 he was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Gold Medal, in 1911 he gave the first performance of the Elgar Concerto and by World War I, in which he was conscripted, wounded in the leg and reported killed, he was famous.

He moved to the United States, giving generously to help war orphans and refugees and playing charity concerts. When America entered the war, he was sidelined as an enemy alien; the enforced rest resulted in his operetta Apple Blossoms and his String Quartet. From 1924 Kreisler made his home in Berlin but with the rise of Hitler, he refused to play in Germany any more. After the Anschluss of Austria in 1938, he took French citizenship, then moved to United States. In 1941 he was hit by a van while crossing a New York street and was in a coma for four weeks. The accident ended his big-time career, although he remained a much-loved figure in America (taking citizenship in 1943) and did not stop playing until after the 1949/50 season. He died in New York on 29 January 1962.

Box Set Release Catalogue Number
Night Music Vol 1 Naxos 8.505008
Romantic Piano Favourites Vol 1 Naxos 8.505028
The Very Best Of Naxos 8.502020

Albums featuring this artist are available for download from ClassicsOnline.com
View by Role: Classical Artist | Classical Composer | Arranger
Role: Classical Artist 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
BACH, J.S. / MOZART: Violin Concertos (Kreisler) (1915-1945) Naxos Historical
BEETHOVEN / MENDELSSOHN: Violin Concertos (Kreisler) (1935-1936) Naxos Historical
BEETHOVEN / SCHUBERT / GRIEG: Violin Sonatas (Kreisler / Rachmaninov) (1928) Naxos Historical
Chamber Music
BEETHOVEN: Violin Sonatas (Complete) (Kreisler) (1935-1936) Naxos Historical
Chamber Music
BRUCH / BRAHMS: Violin Concertos (Kreisler) (1925, 1936) Naxos Historical
Orchestral, Concertos
Chamber Music
KREISLER, Fritz: Complete Recordings, Vol. 1 (1904, 1910) Naxos Historical
Chamber Music
KREISLER, Fritz: Complete Recordings, Vol. 2 (1911-1912) Naxos Historical
Chamber Music
KREISLER, Fritz: Complete Recordings, Vol. 3 (1914-1916) Naxos Historical
Instrumental, Concertos, Chamber Music, Vocal, Instrumental, Vocal, Chamber Music, Instrumental, Chamber Music, Vocal
KREISLER, Fritz: Complete Recordings, Vol. 4 (1916-1919) Naxos Historical
Chamber Music, Concertos
KREISLER, Fritz: Complete Recordings, Vol. 5 (1919-1924) Naxos Historical
Chamber Music, Concertos, Orchestral, Concertos, Chamber Music
KREISLER: Kreisler Plays Kreisler (1942-1946) Naxos Historical
Orchestral, Concertos, Orchestral
MCCORMACK, John: McCormack Edition, Vol. 4: The Acoustic Recordings (1913-1914) Naxos Historical
MCCORMACK, John: McCormack Edition, Vol. 5: The Acoustic Recordings (1914-1915) Naxos Historical
MCCORMACK, John: McCormack Edition, Vol. 6: The Acoustic Recordings (1915-1916) Naxos Historical
MCCORMACK, John: McCormack Edition, Vol. 7: The Acoustic Recordings (1916-1918) Naxos Historical
MCCORMACK, John: McCormack Edition, Vol. 9: Victor Talking Machine Company Recordings (1920-1923) Naxos Historical
MCCORMACK, John: Remember (1911-1928) Naxos Nostalgia
MOZART / BRAHMS: Violin Concertos, Vol. 2 (Kreisler) (1924, 1927) Naxos Historical
Chamber Music, Concertos


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12:39:28 PM, 20 April 2014
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