Fritz Kreisler

1875 - 1962

Fritz Kreisler began his musical education from his father, a doctor and amateur violinist, at age four. By age seven he had gained admittance to the Musikverein Konservatorium making him the youngest student in the history of the Konservatorium. After winning the gold medal of the Konservatorium at age ten, Kreisler moved to the Paris Conservatoire where he stayed for two years until leaving in 1887, permanently ending his violin instruction.

After several years of touring, Kreisler returned to Vienna for two years of study at the Gymnasium, where he focused on pre-medical schooling before joining the military. During this period, Kreisler barely touched a violin but quickly regained his technique when resolving on a career as a musician in the mid 1890’s. The following years were marked with Kreisler gaining international success as a violinist, with Elgar composing his Violin Concerto specifically for Kreisler, who gave its premiere in 1910 with Elgar conducting.

World War I brought Kreisler back into the military and he was medically discharged in 1914. His plans for an American tour were quickly halted as he feared his arrival would not be well-received and wouldn’t return to the United States until 1919. From 1924 until 1934, Kreisler resided in Berlin, receiving shelter from the French government when the National Socialist party annexed Austria and, finally, in 1939, Kreisler returned to the United States of America and became a citizen in 1943. Despite having impaired hearing and eyesight from a traffic accident which occurred in 1941, Kreisler returned to his musical career. After his last broadcast in the 1949-50 season, Kreisler sold his collection of instruments keeping only an 1860 Vuillaume. Kreisler died in New York in 1962.