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The World's Greatest Violinists - Fritz Kreisler

Updated on December 5, 2012

Fritz Kreisler

Fritz Kreisler
Fritz Kreisler
My Mother with her Violin
My Mother with her Violin

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The World’s Greatest Violinists – Fritz Kreisler

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When my mother was a young woman, she began taking violin lessons. Unfortunately, she was severely burned when her dress caught on fire while she was adding kerosene to a stove on her parent’s farm. She ran outside screaming which only made the flames worse. Fortunately, her brother heard her and came running in from the field and rolled her in the grass to put out the flames.

The same heavy clothing, which caught on fire so easily, probably also saved her life but she was burned over much of her body. With her arms, legs and body severely burned, she was unable to play the violin for over a year and she never resumed her studies.

Fritz Kreisler was my mother’s favorite violinist and she passed on her love for his playing to me. After graduating from college in 1962, I began accumulating my own record collection and Kreisler’s recordings were a significant part of the violin section. Unfortunately, most of his recordings were made before electronic recordings came along so that it is not always easy to appreciate the full extent of his playing.

Besides playing the violin, Kreisler was a prolific Composer. During his 61-year career, he composed 4 operettas, 8 cadenzas, 1 concerto and more than 40 pieces for violin and piano. We begin with two of his best known compositions:

Liebesfreud (Love’s Joy) and Liebesleid (Love’s Sorrow).

Liebesfreud - Love's Joy Written and Played by Fritz Kreisler

Liebesleid - Love's Sorrow Written and Played by Fritz Kreisler

Fritz Kreisler and his Dog
Fritz Kreisler and his Dog

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Fritz Kreisler was born in Vienna in 1875. He studied at the Vienna Conservatory and later in Paris. He made his United States debut in 1988 and toured America in 1988-1889 with Moriz Rosenthal.

He then returned to Austria and left music to study medicine. He also spent a brief period in the army before returning to the violin in 1899 to give a concert with the Berlin Philharmonic. This concert and a series of American tours from 1901 to 1903 brought him his first real recognition.

He served a second time in the Austrian army in World War I and was honorably discharged after being wounded. He returned to New York in 1914 and spent the remainder of the war in America. He returned to Europe in 1924 but returned to the United States in 1939 when World War II broke out and he became an American citizen in 1943.

The following selection is the Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor - 3rd movement - recorded in 1935.

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Mendoelssohn Violin Concerto in E

Stradivarius Violin
Stradivarius Violin

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Fritz Kreisler was known for his sweet tone and his expressive phrasing. The sound of his playing was immediately recognizable. Kreisler’s emotionally expressive manner is often contrasted with Jascha Heifitz’s infallible technical precision but less colorful sound.

It has frequently been observed that "while Heifitz was the most conspicuously perfect violinist, Kreisler was the most beloved". Kreisler’s early recordings of his own show pieces and popular songs of the day brought violin music to the masses much like Enrico Caruso did for opera. Here are two more of his famous recordings.

The following are two of his most loved recordings:

Meditation from Thais - Written bu Jules Massenet, and

Schon Rosmarin - written by Fritz Kreisler

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Meditation from Thais - Jules Massenet

Schon Rosarin - Written and played by Fritz Kreisler

The Mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetary where Fritz Kreisler is Buried
The Mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetary where Fritz Kreisler is Buried

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In 1941, Fritz Kreisler was involved in the first of two traffic accidents, which greatly affected his life. He suffered a fractured skull when he was struck by a truck while crossing a street in New York City and was in a coma for over a week.

He gave his last public concert in 1947. Toward the end of his life he was involved in another traffic accident which left him blind and deaf.

Prior to his death in 1962, he and his wife were converted to Catholicism and were received into the church by Archbishop Fultan J. Sheen, himself. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, N.Y but his music will live on long after his death.

My biggest problem in assembling this Hub was how to decide which musical selections to include – there are so many beautiful ones available. Here are two more that I am particularly fond of:

The Old Refrain - Written by Fritz Kreisler, and

Londonderry Air - Based onTraditional Music

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The Old Refrain - Written and Played by Fritz Kreisler

Londonderry Air

Vienna, Austria - Fritz Kreisler's Birthplace

Fritz Kreisler

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    • Londonlady profile image

      Laura Writes 

      5 years ago

      I like the incorporation of the map at the end. Beautiful hub, voted up!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      5 years ago from Arizona

      This is a lovely tribute. and there is nothing like the almost sad and beautiful sound of the violin. Thanks for sharing this wonderful hub.

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