Born in Austria, he entered the Vienna Conservatory at the age of seven, where he studied violin and theory (the latter under Bruckner); he later studied composition with Delibes in Paris. In 1910, he premiered Elgar’s Violin Concerto, composed for him, and he continued to give concerts until 1950, nine years after a near-fatal road accident in New York (where he eventually settled). He was renowned for his brilliant technique and burnished tone.
Tribute by James Ehnes
Fritz Kreisler’s golden sound and consummate musicianship continues to be an inspiration and a marvel, more than 50 years after his passing. The grace, dignity, charm and beauty of his playing is what many music lovers think of first, but the incredible clarity, purity of intonation and digital dexterity from his prime is also astonishing, and perhaps unmatched. Year after year I return to his recordings, particularly those he made between 1910 and 1920, when he was in his heyday and recorded technology had advanced to the point of being able to capture the perfect purity of his tone. What I would give for a recording of him playing Elgar’s Violin Concerto! Few other musicians speak to me so movingly. He was a violinist who spoke directly to one’s soul, and he left a rich recorded legacy for which we should all be very grateful.