Fritz Kreisler was a Jewish-Austrian musician and composer who established himself as one of the twentieth century's great violinists.
Born in Austria in 1875, Kreisler began playing at the age of four and was accepted at the Vienna Conservatory at the age of seven. He studied composition at the Paris Conservatory, and gave his performance debut in 1888, at the age of thirteen. When an audition at the Vienna Philharmonic did not materialize for him, the young Kreisler returned to his studies and would give up the violin for nearly a decade. Instead, he studied medicine, and even served as an officer in the Austrian army.
But his love of the instrument eventually brought him back in 1898, when he resumed performing. An appearance with the Berlin Philharmonic in 1899 officially launched his international career and soon he was a worldwide sensation. He spent most of the following thirty years as an international performer, and lived a very enjoyable life. Throughout the mid-1920s and early 1930s, Kreisler made his home in Berlin. However, Hitler's rise to power eventually forced him out, and he fled to the United States by way of France. He would live there until his death.
Although Kreisler was not celebrated for his compositions, he wrote a number of classical pieces that he initially ascribed to celebrated composers such as Vivaldi and Pugnani, among others. He later confessed that they were his own compositions, but that as a young man he had feared that they would be dismissed as the works of an unknown composer. Kreisler's cadenzas for Beethoven and Brahms, in which he inserted solos into Beethoven and Brahms pieces, were so spectacular that they have been transcribed, and are regarded as standards for violinists.
Kreisler continued until 1950, when age and fatigue brought an end to a sixty-year long performance career. He died in New York City a few years later.