Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fritz Kreisler - A Reminiscence

This week I came across some recordings which I must have somehow gotten hold of in my young years; recordings I had completely forgotten about.
They are of the legendary Viennese violinist Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962) .
My primary reason for writing about him at this point in time was not only because of my finding these recordings, but also because I saw and heard this man in recital when I was a young boy, probably of elementary school age.
This particular recital was given some time after a near-fatal accident in New York city. He had been struck by a truck in, I believe, 1940. His advancing age, plus the effects of the accident left him with only a segment of his great technique, and some of his intonation was less than infallible; however, the golden sound was still there , flooding the hall with the unmistakable aura of Kreisler.
I remember seeing a photograph in the newspaper of Kreisler, unconscious, propped up against a curb or lamp pole. with a rivulet of blood running down across his face - some well-meaning but obviously ill-advised person or persons had pulled him into that position, not realizing the possibility of further damage to this great artist who had incurred a fractured skull and other lesser injuries.
This image of Kreisler must have accompanied me as I listened to him in that hall so many years ago.
As I recall, Kreisler continued performing for a few more years until about 1950.
He also composed, and some of his music is still heard today. There are recordings available of this man and his luminous sound.
He also studied medicine during his formative years, went to war in the Austrian army during World War I, and was wounded. His brief tome "Four Years in the Trenches" was published in Boston in, I believe, 1915.
If you are not familiar with the work of this defining artist, you can find some recordings rather easily.
(A note I have been remiss in forwarding to the reader):
All the material in my blog is material stored in this addled cranium. When I finally gave in to suggestions that I do this blog, I stated that the day I have to refer to the printed page or the Internet to aid me in this blog is the day that the blog will cease - it's a sort of 'game' with me, and I hope that you will continue with me as long as my memory apparatus holds out!

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