Fritz Kreisler - that inextricable link between the 19th and 20th century.

Fritz Kreisler - would have been 140 in February this year.
Fritz Kreisler – That inextricable link between the 19th and early 20th century.

– Fritz Kreisler – 80th birthday celebration – Feb. 2, 1955 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Fritz Kreisler was probably one of the most famous and recognizable violinists of the early 20th century. He came along at the dawn of recording, and so he became one of the most recorded violinists from the early 1900’s to the 1940s; his last recording was made in 1950. As an artist for the fledgling RCA-Victor Records, Kreisler’s commercial recordings sold in the hundreds of thousands, unheard of at the time – but then, it was all new.

In addition to a busy and lucrative recording career, Fritz Kreisler was also a much in-demand performer and toured extensively throughout the world where appeared, not only as a solo artist, but with most all of the great orchestras of the world. And was a composer of a huge number of short violin works which have become the basis for most violin student’s practice regimen.

Since Fritz Kreisler died in 1962, he has fallen somewhat off the recognizability chart – the passage of time and newer artists on the scene just do those things. But Kreisler was unique and he was widely admired for his tone and expressive phrasing – it is, for the most part, a technique not applied all that much anymore, and maybe a bit quaint to hear if you’re listening to some of the examples on this interview for the first time. But the music of Fritz Kreisler represents a distinct style of playing at a precise moment in time; that of pre-World War 1 Vienna, which was Fritz Kreisler’s birthplace.

So on February 2nd 1955, NBC Radio (who was owned by RCA, and in turn owned RCA-Victor at the time) celebrated Fritz Kreisler’s 80th birthday with an interview, tributes and some of his recordings.

If you’re a violin student, have a listen to someone you will no doubt know about in your travels, if you don’t already. If you aren’t familiar, have a listen to someone who was hugely popular and very much a part of the artistic life in the world of the last century.

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