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What's a Perfect Classical Work to Close a Violin Recital?

Fritz Kreisler
Violin master Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962)

A lesser-known fantasy by twentieth-century violinist and composer Fritz Kreisler has captured the imagination of Benjamin Beilman, a 21st-century soloist on the rise. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more.

Listen to violinist Benjamin Beilman talk with WRTI's Susan Lewis about the music he's drawn to, and his philosophy of recording in this age of digital media.

On August 13th at 1 pm on WRTI 90.1, Benjamin Beilman plays Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto with The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Radio script:

[Kreisler] has a sense of soul and compassion that drips off of every piece he writes. The Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta is no exception.

Susan Lewis: Born in 1875 in Austria, Fritz Kreisler became a star violinist. He also composed for violin, and admitted in 1935 that he had attributed some of his early works to other composers. In 1948, towards the end of his solo career, he published his Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta.

Benjamin Beilman: It’s essentially a nine-and-a-half minute piece that is pure gold.

SL: Violinist Benjamin Beilman says while it’s not well known, the work is ‘traditional Kreisler.’ 

Fritz Kreisler with colleagues Harold Bauer, Pablo Casals, and Walter Damrosch at Carnegie Hall on March 13, 1917

BB: Wonderful melodies, luscious warm texture he creates...

SL:  A Curtis Institute of Music grad, Beilman learned of the work from his teacher Ida Kavafian.

BB:  She studied with Oscar Shumsky, who recorded all the Fritz Kreisler works known to man essentially.  When I heard it, I thought, I have to do this. I love this writing. This is exactly what I want to close recital programs with.

SL: Why is it such a good closer?

BB: Everybody at the end of the day wants comfort. I think Kreisler, almost above all other composers, can provide that. He has a sense of soul and compassion that drips off of every piece he writes. The Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta is no exception.

SL: Beilman plays Kreisler’s Viennese Rhapsodic Fantasietta as the last piece on his CD, Spectrum, which also includes music by Schubert, Janacek, and Stravinsky. 

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.