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A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
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Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
|Can You Guess?
The story is told of a woman who rushed up to Kreisler after a concert and gushed, "I'd give my life to be able to play like that.
Can You Guess what Kreisler said in reply?
Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
|Violinist Fritz Kreisler died in New York January 29, 1962.
Fritz Kreisler was born in Vienna, February 2, 1875. His talent was obvious extremely early, and by the time he was 4 he was already studying violin with his father. At the age of 6 he was accepted as a student by Jacob Dont. He also studied with Jacques Auber until, at 7, he entered the Vienna Conservatory.
See Kreisler's Music
|Did You Guess?
Kreisler told the woman, "I did."
|1728 - Premiere of The Beggar's Opera by John Gay and Christopher Pepusch, at Lincoln's Inn Fields in London.
1782 - Daniel Francois Auber, French composer, was born.
1826 - Premiere of Schubert's d minor String Quartet Death and the Maiden in a private home. Schubert usually played viola in these performances, but was too busy completing and editing the manuscript to perform this time.
1882 - Premiere of Rimsky-Korsakov's opera "The Snow Maiden," in St. Petersburg
1932 - Premiere of Gershwin's 'Rhapsody No 2' orginally called Rhapsody In Rivets.
1960 - Cho Liang Lin, Chinese violinist, was born in Taiwan.
1979 - Emerson, Lake & Palmer disbanded
1981 - Premiere of John Towner Williams' Violin Concerto. Mark Peskanov and the St. Louis Symphony conducted by Leonard Slatkin. (revised in 1998)
1988 - Death, suicide, of American opera singer Bantcho Bantchevsky. He leapt to his death from the balcony of New York's Metropolitan Opera House during a performance of Verdi's Macbeth.
1996 - Garth Brooks refused to accept his American Music Award for Favorite Overall Artist saying that Hootie and the Blowfish had done more for music that year than he did.
|Brotherhood of the Bow
Violinist Tee Shirt
|In Vienna, Fritz's principal violin teacher was Joseph Hellmesberger Jr., his theory teacher was Anton Bruckner. Fritz gave his first performance at the conservatory when he was 9, and he was awarded its gold medal at 10. After completing his education in Vienna, Fritz moved to Paris to study at the Conservatory there. In Paris, Fritz's violin teacher was Massart. Massart wrote a letter to Fritz's father in which he stated, "I have been the teacher of Wieniawski and many others, but little Fritz will be the greatest of them all." He shared the premier prix in violin with 4 other students in 1887.
After his studies with Massart, he sought no further instruction. He traveled to the United States, making his US debut in Boston on Nov. 9, 1888. He then toured the country for the 1889-90 season. Although his technique was highly praised, critics questioned his interpretations. As such, he met with only limited success.
Fritz was disappointed. He returned to Vienna and gave up the violin. He took up the study of medicine in Vienna, then art in Rome. He enlisted in the Austrian army and served as an officerr, but when he turnied 21, Fritz picked up the violin once again. Determined to return to the concert circuit, he entered a period of intense practice, and returned to the stage after only 8 weeks. His return, Jan. 23, 1898, was with the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Hans Richter. His Vienna performance won the acclaim he felt he deserved.
Not only had Fritz regained his virtuosity on the violin, his respite had transformed him into a master interpreter. His 1900-1901 tour of the US was triumphant. On May 12, 1902, he made his London debut as a soloist with Richter and the Philharmonic Society Orchestra. Triumph followed triumph. Sir Edward Elgar composed his Violin Concerto for him, then conducted the work's premiere November 10, 1910. Naturally, Kreisler was the soloist.
At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Kreisler rejoined his regiment. He was wounded after only four weeks (see story), and was discharged. He then returned to the U.S. to pursue his career. When the U.S. entered the war in 1917, Fritz withdrew from public appearances.
With the war over, Fritz reappeared in N.Y. on Oct. 27, 1919 and once again resumed his tours. From 1924 to 1934 he made his home in Berlin, but in 1938 he went to France and became a naturalized French citizen. In 1939 he settled in the U.S., becoming a naturalized American citizen (1943). In 1941 he suffered a near-fatal accident when he was struck by a truck in N.Y.; however, he recovered and continued to give concerts until 1950.
While he was a virtuoso violinist, Kreisler was also a gifted composer. He wrote some of the most popular violin pieces in the world, among them Caprice viennois, Tambourin chinois, Schön Rosmarin, and Liebesfreud. He also published a number of pieces in the classical vein, which he ascribed to various composers (Vivaldi, Pugnani, Couperin, Padre Martini, Dittersdorf, Francoeur, Stamitz, and others). In 1935 he reluctantly admitted that these pieces were his own, with the exception of the first 8 bars from the "Couperin," Chanson Louis XIII, which were taken from a traditional melody. He explained that his motive in not claiming the pieces as his own that audiences would accept his playing concerts consisting of pieces by established composers far more readily than they would simply him playing his own compositions, since he was not known as a composer.
Fritz Kreisler. Speaker of seven languages, collector of rare manuscripts (in 1949 he donated the original scores of Brahms's Violin Concerto and Chausson's Poème for Violin and Orchestra to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.) and primitive paintings as well as violins (He was the owner of the great Guarneri "del Gesu" violin of 1733). He was made Commander of the Legion of Honor in France. He received the Beethoven Gold Medal in London. he was entertained by royalty. Indeed, he was universally honored as one of the rare outstanding citizens of the world.