Fritz Kreisler on Violin Playing.
Edited by ROBERT BRAINE
FRITZ KREISLER ON VIOLIN PLAYING.
The views of Fritz Kreisler on the violin art are always of interest, since he occupies a position as one of the world's greatest violin artists, and aside from his supreme excellence in violin playing, he is a musician of broad attainments, and a man of wide general culture. Mr. Kreisler, in a chat with the Musical Courier, discussed a number of subjects of great interest to the violinist and violin student.
When asked what concerto he liked the best, he said: "The Brahms. Do you know it makes me sad to think that Brahms and Beethoven wrote but one concerto each for the violin. And Chopin! What a pity that he devoted all his time to the piano! We might just as well have had many more great concertos."
Continuing, he said that there are so few really great concertos that violinists must play the really notable ones over and over again. There are no really great modern concertos, the old ones stand supreme.
Of violins he said: "You know the possession of a 'Strad' is more or less a fad. I once thought it essential that I should have one, and bought the best one I could find. I soon discovered, however, that I did not need it, and rarely used it. I have just sold it to an American dealer. I have three instruments in Europe besides those I carry with me. The violin I use the most, and which I like best, is my Joseph Guarnerius. I use a Tourte bow."
Of strings Mr. Kreisler said that he finds good ones everywhere, and buys them wherever he happens to be. He is not a "faddist" as regards any particular kind of string.
A BROAD-MINDED VIEW.
He considers American orchestras excellent—as good as any in the world. As to the present generation of violinists, he did not care to rank them, but said: "There are many great players. Ineed (sic), there are many very fine ones who are quite unknown to the world in general. A few of us have been fortunate, but there are others equally as good who have not. No artist should speak against another. No one has the right to mention another's shortcomings. We are all mortal. We all have our faults. If we cannot say anything good, let us say nothing. There is some good in every one. Let us speak of that."
Of string quartet playing Mr. Kreisler said: "Ah, that is a luxury for which I have very little time. When I get the chance I love quartet playing. I look forward to the summer, when Ysaye, Thibaud, Casals and the 'cellist Pugno and I meet in Paris. Ysaye and I alternate in playing viola, but the queer thing about it is that we all want to play second violin. Among artists it is only professional courtesy which forces one to assume the first part."
The violinist's method of composing is to work out his compositions mentally before he puts a single note on paper. He pursues a similar method in memorizing violin compositions. Of this he said: "I know the music so well that I do not even keep the violin parts. In fact, I do not possess any. I study the part from the orchestral or piano score, and never practice it on the violin. I get it into my head with its accompaniment. It is all mental. I sometimes play it over on the piano to get a general idea of the whole, and I often play compositions in public which I have not tried on the violin previously."
KREISLER'S PRACTICE METHODS.
The violinist stated that he was never troubled with cold or clammy hands, sweating fingers or with nervousness. "I do not feel the need of excessive practice," he said. "I am never troubled with stiff fingers, either. I can get off a train after an all-day ride, and go to the concert hall and play as well as ever. My greatest anxiety is to preserve my enthusiasm, and to be able to make my playing fresh and buoyant. When I play for myself I always do so to distract my mind. I never practice compositions which I am to play in the near future. I must have them fresh. I must not allow myself to become tired of them. I have to play many things I do not like, and it is difficult for me to play them con amore. That is my only trouble."