Famous Fiddlers: Joseph Joachim and Fritz Kreisler
Items in the Exhibition:
Born in a village near Bratislava, the child prodigy Joachim made his professional debut in Pest shortly before his 8th birthday. At age 12 he began study with Mendelssohn in Leipzig, and by age 15 he was assistant concertmaster with the Gewandhaus orchestra. A more than competent composer himself, he was a longtime friend of the Schumanns and of Johannes Brahms, with whom he collaborated on the latter’s violin concerto.
Four bars from an unidentified composition. With an inscription to an unknown recipient, in German, expressing good wishes in connection with an upcoming visit to London. From the Leon Robbin Collection.
Thanking the recipient, the London impresario John Ella (1802–1880), founder of the Musical Union, for a check. An appended note by Ella explains a contretemps that arose out of Joachim raising his per-concert appearance fee without due warning. From the Leon Robbin Collection.
The letter to Édouard Colonne (1838–1910), founder of the “Concerts Colonne” orchestral group, outlines Joachim’s desires as to repertoire for a forthcoming visit to Paris. All his favorite composers come in for mention, including (besides his own works) concertos and other pieces by Viotti, Spohr, Mendelssohn, Bach, Beethoven, Bruch, and Brahms. From the Leon Robbin Collection.
The son of a Vienna physician, Kreisler was admitted to the higher (“undergraduate”) section of the Vienna Conservatory at age 7; he took a Premier prix at the Paris Conservatory at 12, and the following year made his first concert tour of America. A gifted though by no means prolific composer, he is best known for the pieces by early masters he claimed to have discovered but which in fact he wrote himself. Elgar composed his violin concerto for Kreisler.
Two bars of an unidentified composition accompanied by an inscription to a “Miss Lansing,” written just months before anti-German sentiment forced Kreisler to give up public appearances in the United States for the duration of World War I. From the Leon Robbin Collection.
The photograph (by Gessford, New York) is inscribed to a “Mrs. Ronalds,” in all likelihood the wife of Sir Landon Ronald (1873–1938), the conductor Kreisler preferred to accompany him in his British recording sessions. From the Leon Robbin Collection.
Written at midnight on the night before his departure for the first concert appearances in the United States in his renewed career on the stage, Kreisler gives his friend “Carl” the New York address of his American agent, Henry Wolfsohn, as a point for contact. From the Leon Robbin Collection.