Fritz Kreisler (1875 - 1962)

Among the most distinguished violinists of his time, Fritz Kreisler was born in Vienna and became a student at the Conservatory at the age of seven, studying with the younger Joseph Hellmesberger and later, in Paris, with Massart. His subsequent international career, interrupted briefly by diversion into medical studies and army service, consolidated his position as a leading virtuoso. As a composer he provided himself with a series of brief encore pieces, well suited to the then requirements of the recording studio. These took the form of arrangements and transcriptions as well as a more controversial series of pieces attributed to composers of the past but in fact by Kreisler himself. These too have become a standard part of violin repertoire and it seems strange, in retrospect, that anyone should have thought them anything but effective pastiche. His technique in performance involved a ubiquitous vibrato, applied to fast as well as slow notes.

Violin Music

Kreisler made useful additions to violin repertoire in his many transcriptions, his short compositions of acknowledged authorship, and a series of pieces that he attributed to lesser-known composers of the 18th century but were in fact his own work. Original compositions include the well-known Liebesleid (‘Sorrow of Love’) and its counterpart, Liebesfreud (‘Joy of Love’), transcribed for piano by Rachmaninov, and the pastiche Praeludium and Allegro that he attributed to Pugnani.