December 8 2013

Fritz Kreisler (last post) interviewed by Abraham Chasens, musical manager of WQXR radio station, for his 80th birthday, February 2 1955. Before the interview, recorded messages from Mischa Elman, Yehudi Menuhin, Nathan Milstein, Erica Morini, Joseph Szigeti, Ruggiero Ricci, Isaac Stern. (The second clip ends abruptly, but this is all there is.) The two stills show him with Casals.

We learn the reason why he published his Alt-Wiener Tanzweisen as a set by Lanner (nobody knew they were by Kreisler until he was sixty). He published other pieces with false attributions.

He says how much he admires Barbirolli. His recording of the Brahms concerto with him and the LPO is here. Kreisler had owned the manuscript of that work until, as he tells us, his wife made him give it to “the public library”.

Elgar received three great compliments from Germans (or Austrians): from Richard Strauss, from Hans Richter and from Fritz Kreisler. Kreisler said to the Hereford Times, published October 7 1905:

“If you want to know whom I consider to be the greatest living composer, I say without hesitation Elgar. … I say this to please no one; it is my own conviction. … I place him on an equal footing with my idols, Beethoven and Brahms. He is of the same aristocratic family. His invention, his orchestration, his harmony, his grandeur, it is wonderful. And it is all pure, unaffected music. I wish Elgar would write something for the violin.” (Wikipedia)

He did. His violin concerto is dedicated to Kreisler, who gave the first performance with the LSO under Elgar on November 10 1910. What a pity that Kreisler never recorded it. Somebody needs to write the definitive story of Elgar’s rise and fall in Germany. Kreisler’s comment is fairly sensational coming out of that world, as was Richter’s.

One might be tempted to call him the Richard Tauber of the violin if it didn’t sound patronising. No proper track explanations on YouTube and I’m not adding them.

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