B0083. Amy Biancolli. FRITZ KREISLER - LOVE’S SORROW, LOVE’S JOY. Portland, OR, Amadeus, 1998. 453pp. Index; Bibliography; List of Kreisler’s Works; Kreisler Chronology; Definitive Eric Wen Discography; Photos; DJ. Final Copy! - 9781574670370 1-57467-037-9
“A well written and necessary addition to the extant works on Fritz Kreisler. The primary existing work by Louis Paul Lochner was excellent especially considering that its content had to be approved by his widow, a very strong and controlling personality not disposed to objectivity or candor. This book makes up for what Lochner was compelled to leave out, and does so while many distinguished witnesses and colleagues were still alive to record their view of the story. Mostly it documents the near obvious that Lochner could not document if even hint at, e.g. almost everybody liked Fritz, a few of those could stand Harriet, and that Harriet was in fact an indispensable part of the legend and exerted enormous control over the artist with his very willing consent. Nothing from hell, from his point of view it seems. It is very arguable that Harriet is not exaggerating in the least when she says she ‘made’ Fritz Kreisler, the famed world class artist. On his own he might well have continued drifting along from gig to gig, having a very good time, beloved and admired by all who knew him, and doing very good work (once warmed up as he did not believe in practice) all but unnoticed rather than having a major career. We would have been poorer for that but I expect Fritz would have been fine. The underlying psychology here has filled and will continue to fill volumes. But as no one was harmed in the making of this life I am grateful for his existence and most of what happened.
Kreisler was a unique artist in his and our era. Menuhin said that he could readily imitate the style all the major violinists of his day, except Kreisler. He composed many fine small pieces that saw the spotlight and are still performed in an age when the divide between composers and performers was all but complete. He famously (or infamously to some) passed off a few of them as arrangements of lost works of past masters, only later revealing that they were entirely his own work to outrage of a few, the amusement of many (and the indifference of most). He knew full well that these slight but rich works would be dismissed out of hand by most critics and therefore played this game with them. When finally revealed and condemned he rightly challenged his critics to do better; I am not aware that any of them did or could….Slight as they might be, his little encore pieces have substance (where so many are flashy but shallow technical display, of little interest outside of the sheer dazzling showmanship of their presentation) and a personality that is as hard to simply knock off as his playing was for Menuhin to mimic. There is a reason that Kreisler's cadenzas to the Beethoven Concerto, in particular the one for the first movement, are still almost universally used today. The first movement cadenza is perhaps his most stunning bit of small scale composition, or rather, well condensed large scale composition. With considerable but not ostentatious technical display it distills the essence of the first movement into a powerful summary. So many cadenzas are just flashy lists of thematic citation, not bad but not very deep, they do the job intended in the concerto form. But Kreisler's is a real composition on its own.
Another indication of his individual value is the following. Upon hearing Heifetz, Kreisler is said to have remarked to some colleagues ‘Gentlemen, we may as well break our fiddles over our knees’. And it is true that Heifetz knocked most of the field back a notch, it appears to me that Kreisler was one of the least adversely affected, having his own identity well established, and one not so directly in competition with the emerging wunderkind, as were the other Auer graduates before and after (e.g. Elman and Seidel) who did suffer.”
- Ned Ludd