Fritz Kreisler

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Kreisler, Fritz

(krīs`lər), 1875–1962, Austrian-American violinist, studied at the conservatories of Vienna and Paris. He first appeared in the United States in 1889. After studying medicine, then art, Kreisler returned to the violin, making a sensationally successful appearance in Berlin in 1899. In 1901 he played again in the United States and afterward was perhaps the most popular violinist in the country. He served briefly in the Austrian army in World War I; in 1939 he became a French citizen and in 1943 a U.S. citizen. He composed the operettas Apple Blossoms (1919) and Sissy (1933) and numerous famous violin pieces, including Caprice Viennois, Tambourin Chinois, and Polichinelle Sérénade. In 1935 he revealed that a number of the pieces he had published as compositions of old masters were actually his own.


See biography by L. P. Lochner (1950).

Kreisler, Fritz


Born Feb. 2, 1875, in Vienna; died Jan. 29, 1962, in New York City. Austrian violinist and composer.

Kreisler studied violin with J. Hellmesberger and J. L. Massart and composition with L. Delibes. He made his debut in Vienna at the age of seven. In 1888 he toured in the USA and then temporarily abandoned the violin. In 1893, with concerts in Moscow, he renewed his performing career. Kreisler’s concerts in Berlin in 1899 brought him world fame. From 1915 until 1924 he lived primarily in the USA, where he finally settled in 1939. He gave concerts until 1947.

Kreisler’s career was an epoch in musical art. A unique melodiousness, feeling, brilliance, and elegance distinguished his playing. As a composer Kreisler was the unsurpassed master of small genres. He created a repertoire of short solo pieces (Caprice viennois and Pretty Rosemary Plant, for example) and published a series of pieces for violin and piano, Classical Manuscripts (1905), providing his own stylizations as arrangements of works by 17th-and 18th-century composers (F. Couperin, G. Pugnani, and L. Boccherini). Kreisler composed many transcriptions and cadenzas for concertos (including those of Beethoven and Brahms) and created new editions of violin works.


Iampol’skii, I. “Frits Kreisler.” Sovetskaia muzyka, 1955, no. 9.
Raaben, L. Zhizn’ zamechatel’nykh skripachei. Moscow-Leningrad, 1967.


Kreisler, Fritz

(1875–1962) violinist; born in Vienna, Austria. At age ten, he won a gold medal at the Vienna Conservatory and in 1887 he won the Grand Prix at the Paris Conservatory. The next year saw his American debut in New York. For some years he pursued medicine and military service, but returned to music in 1899. From then on he was one of the most beloved violinists in the world; he also composed light violin works (which he sometimes attributed to other composers) and two operettas. Having spent much time in the U.S.A., he moved there permanently in 1940 and retired in 1950.