Music Appreciation

《Tambourin Chinois, for violin and piano, Op. 3》

Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962)

Antonio Stradivari "Joachim-Elman", Vi (1722)
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Fritz Kreisler was one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century. His father began teaching him the violin at the age of four; at the age of seven, he received special permission to enter the Vienna Conservatory, where students normally had to be at least ten years old. In addition to studying the violin under Joseph Hellmesberger Jr., he also studied music theory under Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) , and learned to play the piano by himself. After graduating from the Vienna Conservatory at the age of ten and having won first prize in the Conservatory’s violin competition, he traveled to France to study at the Paris Conservatory, from where he graduated when he was twelve, having once again won first prize in the school’s violin competition. This was the starting point of his career in music. Kreisler is one of the relatively few violinists in history who can fairly be said to have been born with a genius for the instrument. Both during his time at the Vienna and Paris conservatories and later on, while working as a professional musician, the amount of time he spent practicing was much less than that needed by other violinists. The violin came naturally to him; with it, he was able to produce sounds of amazing beauty almost effortlessly. Tambourin Chinois, the piece presented in this recording, was inspired by a street performer that Kreisler saw playing the Chinese “flower drum” when traveling to China. The piece, written for the violin, is intended to portray the bustling atmosphere of a Chinese temple fair. It is structured in three sections: the allegro in the first section starts the piece off with a delicate rhythm, and is then followed by an elegant, songlike music in the second section The final section takes up the theme of the first section again to bring the piece to a conclusion. The rhythm used in this piece was intended to create the same kind of effect as a Chinese flower drum; the delicate staccato and “Eastern” melody are complemented by effective use of the chromatic scale, giving the piece a truly unique feel.