Fritz Kreisler (Austrian, later American, 1875-1962): Caprice Viennois
Yesterday we heard Paganini and Heifetz, violinists known primarily for their ability to perform unspeakably difficult pyrotechnics on the violin so perfectly and brilliantly it boggles the mind. Fritz Kreisler, an early 20th century violinist, could also execute technical feats with the best of them, but it was the warmth and sweetness he drew from the instrument which made him so beloved. He was also a gifted composer, so much so that he wrote many "fake" pieces in the style of other composers, hoping that people would be more likely to come to his concerts if the program included works by familiar names. (He eventually admitted that he wrote the pieces himself.) But today's selection was never meant to be anything other than vintage Kreisler. It is said to embody the idea of "gemütlichkeit," a German word which here represents some combination of coziness, nostalgia, and the charm of the old style Viennese waltz.
This is a VERY old recording of Kreisler himself playing, but despite the quality of the recording you can still get a sense of his gentleness and (bitter?)sweetness. In this case, I recommend listening to the Spotify version, because the sound is remastered and much cleaner...unless scratchy records are your thing, which they are for some people!
Scratchy version on YouTube
Cleaner version on Spotify
Here is a video I took in Vienna of someone playing a Viennese waltz on a very special instrument called the "zither." Apologies on it being sideways--if and when I figure out how to fix it I will!
In May 2017 I challenged my students to practice every day for 30 days in a row. In addition, I asked them to listen to 30 bite-sized musical selections I emailed daily. I collected my picks in this blog for posterity. So these are works I find particularly fun, interesting, or important, including a handful by composers who were born or who died in May. Please enjoy!