Fritz Kreisler

An American violinist and composer of Austrian birth, Fritz Kreisler lived out his long life on two continents against the backdrop of major world events. Born in Vienna on February 2, 1875, he was a prodigy on violin. The 7-year-old Fritz entered the Vienna Conservatory. He won the premier prix given by the Paris Conservatoire at 12. After a tour of the United States in 1888-89, he returned to Vienna to study medicine and perform his military service before resuming his musical career. Called to active military service in 1914, the young Fritz was soon wounded and dismissed. Between the two world wars, Kreisler moved first to Berlin and then to Paris. In 1939 he moved to America (his wife's native land) and renounced his brief French citizenship (gained to get him away from the Nazis) for that of the United States. As a performer, Kreisler was renowned for his sweetness of tone and interpretation of standard classics, including the Concerto by Elgar (1910), which is dedicated to him. As one of the first recorded instrumentalists, he had a great influence of later generations of violinists. Kreisler composed string quartets and many pieces for the violin that are considered "charming" including Caprice Viennois and Tambourin Chamois. He is also remembered today for his operetta Apple Blossoms (with Viktor Jacobi, 1919). He was known to attribute his compositions to other writers out of modesty. Fritz Kreisler died January 29, 1962 in New York.