Page 6, 2nd November 1951

2nd November 1951
Page 6
Page 6, 2nd November 1951 — The Admirable Kreisler

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Organisations: Austrian army, Catholic Church
Locations: New York, Vienna


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The Admirable Kreisler

By GRACE CON WAY pROFESSOR caritatis et humani tads. So did the Lord Mayor of Vienna describe Fritz Kreisler in October, 1921, when he conferred the title of professor on one of the city's most illustrious sons. He was honoured no

being honot only as a great a artist but as man whose works for charity know no bounds. A man of compassion as well as a genius—rare alliance.

It is typical of Kreisler that he has never written his autobiography. though he must he one of the most literate musicians who ever lived. When Louis P. Lochner, art American journalist—an old friend—. to write a book about him, he had to gather his material from all kinds of journals and magazines.

Best of all, he was able to talk to Kreisler himself and to Mrs. Kreisler (Harriet): they now live in retirement at their home in the United Stares. The only work they have not relinquished is their work for charity.

A prodigy w NO matter ho we dislike child prodigies, it has to be admitted

that Kreisler was one. could read He that Kreisler was one. could read music almost before he could read printing.

His father, from whom he seems to have inherited his scholarship and broad humanitarianism. was a Viennese doctor whose distraction after the labours of the dae was to get a few of his musical friends together and play chamber music, In turn, all his sons learned to play better than he could—but he took it philosophically and changed to another instrument until the last and youngest buy superseded him.

His great hoax FRITZ Kreisler R ockliff. 25s.) gives us a portrait in the round

of one of the most lovable personalities who has ever stepped on a concert platform. Anyone who has heard Kreisler at

one of his recitals will endorse wholeheartedly the account of -the wave Upon wave of affection that would soar across the concert hall at the end: of how the tall, serious. soldierly man would return again and again to play those well-loved short pieces—mostly his own compositions — which have now become part of the violin repertoire for all time. In a chapter to itself is told the story of the "great hoax " concerning these same pieces which Kreisler would slip into a programme as " hitherto unpublished works" by Pugnani. Couperin or some early composer. He even went so far as to say that he had found the MSS hidden away in an old monastery. When, years after, it was discovered that he and he alone was the composer, critics rounded on him savagely, for often they had said that these " old masterpieces " were too

to be put alongside Kreisier's


to be put alongside Kreisier's awn works.

Reconciliation KRE1SLER, although he has had

world-wide success and affection, has had his troubles, too.

After fighting iii the Austrian army in the first World War, he went to America. First, America welcomed him. and then, when she herself entered the war, hounded him hysterically from the concert platforms as an enemy spy.

Now that is all forgotten. Kreisler is an American citizen. As Mrs. Kreisler was a divorcee, the Kreislers were not married in the Catholic Church, though both were Catholics.

After 45 years, under the guidance of their old friend, Mgr. Fulton Sheen. they returned to the Church and received her blessing on their marriage. On hit '75th birthday—when the great and the famous assembled in New York to do him honour, Pope Pius XII sent him his Apostolic Blessing; and there was a special greeting from Cardinal Innitzer, to whom Kreisler had sent many thousands of dollars for the relief of European war orphans. Cardinal Spellman and Mgr. Sheen brought their congratulations in person.

His violins ON his world trav Kreisler reisler col

lected most valuable incunabula — rare and exquisite books and manuscripts. Some of these he pre A

sented to the American museums; the rest have been sold for an enormous sum that has been given to charity.

The chapter on the violins Kreisler has used is fascinating reading, and one doesn't have to be a violinist to appreciate it. Strange to say, he preferred his Guanerius to the Stradii varies.

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