EXPLORING MUSIC

Fritz's “Forgeries"

Author

David M. Greene

Publication

MHS Review 218 Vol. II, No. II March 6, 1978

Listen

Few people remember that Fritz Kreisler published a war memoir called Four Weeks in the Trenches. (Reading from left to right, the Weeks from Edwin L., John W., Raymond, and Willet III.) It was not a bestseller. It would have been had he called it With Bow and Fiddle on the Eastern Front. Other interesting facts about Kreisler are: that as a young man he went to the Gymnasium to take medicine, but was told to try the apothecary's down the street; that his first name was Fritz, which is like being named Fred with no erick; (Frederick the Great was sometimes called Fritz but usually behind his back. The Katzenjammer kids were really Jack and Fred, a fact that robs them of their mystery.) (should I repeat the semi­colon?); that he must not be confused with the football coach, the automaker, or the protagonist of E.T.A. Hoffmann's "Fantasy Piece in the Manner of Callot''; that his brother Hugo was a 'cellist and that they made some records together; that he became a Frenchman in 1938 and an American in 1943; and that when he admitted to fraud and forgery he was not asked to resign but was hailed as the perpetrator of a "delightful hoax."

 

That last reference is, of course, to Kreisler's admission that he had himself composed all those little works by Porpora and Pugnani and Francoeur that he was always playing in his concerts. To be sure this created the usual to-do about ''morality" and "ethics", but after all, his Teutonic contemporary Thomas Mann suspected that all artists were fundamentally crooks, and anyhow no one got hurt but the scholars who knew too little about the music of Porpora, etc. to tell the difference. Kreisler said that he did it because there was too little "old" music available to make a balanced program. Perhaps it really represented his unwitting contribution to Neo-Classicism.

 

Miss Kavafian's rather offbeat Kreisler recital contains a number of these "forgeries”: the "Francoeur" Sicilienne et Rigaudon; the "Pugnani" Tempo di minuetto, the "Boccherini" Allegretto, and the "Louis Couperin" Aubade provencale. There are also some transcriptions of genuine works by other composers, though the list provided me does not so specify. "La Clochette" is a version of the final movement of Paganini's second violin concerto, perhaps best known in Liszt's piano arrangement called "La Campanella." "Tango" is the old Albeniz chestnut (D major), "Mazurka" is Chopin, A minor, Op. 67, No. 4, and "Frasquita" is the song "My little nest of heavenly blue" from Lehar's operetta of that name. "La Gitana" and "Recitative and Scherzo" --the latter a "serious" piece for solo violin--are Kreisler as Kreisler, as is "Love's Sorrow," the one commonplace selection in this entire recital. "Melodie" eludes me for the moment.

 

The perpetrator of this interesting program is a young woman whose name has been hard to escape in musical circles lately, and who makes her recording debut here as a soloist. Ani Kafavian, Istanbul­-born and Juilliard-trained, is one of the most exciting fiddlers around. She has won many prizes and in the current season alone has played the Beethoven Concerto with the New York Philharmonic, the Mozart G major concerto in the "Mostly Mozart" Festival at Avery Fisher Hall, and appeared as featured artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. In the spring she will give her first Alice Tully Hall solo recital. She is a performer to be taken note of.

 

Kreisler also wrote the score to a film called ''The King Steps Out,'' starring Grace Moore and Fernand Gravet. Remember Fernand?

 

Fritz's “Forgeries"

Author

David M. Greene

Publication

MHS Review 218 Vol. II, No. II March 6, 1978

Listen

Few people remember that Fritz Kreisler published a war memoir called Four Weeks in the Trenches. (Reading from left to right, the Weeks from Edwin L., John W., Raymond, and Willet III.) It was not a bestseller. It would have been had he called it With Bow and Fiddle on the Eastern Front. Other interesting facts about Kreisler are: that as a young man he went to the Gymnasium to take medicine, but was told to try the apothecary's down the street; that his first name was Fritz, which is like being named Fred with no erick; (Frederick the Great was sometimes called Fritz but usually behind his back. The Katzenjammer kids were really Jack and Fred, a fact that robs them of their mystery.) (should I repeat the semi­colon?); that he must not be confused with the football coach, the automaker, or the protagonist of E.T.A. Hoffmann's "Fantasy Piece in the Manner of Callot''; that his brother Hugo was a 'cellist and that they made some records together; that he became a Frenchman in 1938 and an American in 1943; and that when he admitted to fraud and forgery he was not asked to resign but was hailed as the perpetrator of a "delightful hoax."

 

That last reference is, of course, to Kreisler's admission that he had himself composed all those little works by Porpora and Pugnani and Francoeur that he was always playing in his concerts. To be sure this created the usual to-do about ''morality" and "ethics", but after all, his Teutonic contemporary Thomas Mann suspected that all artists were fundamentally crooks, and anyhow no one got hurt but the scholars who knew too little about the music of Porpora, etc. to tell the difference. Kreisler said that he did it because there was too little "old" music available to make a balanced program. Perhaps it really represented his unwitting contribution to Neo-Classicism.

 

Miss Kavafian's rather offbeat Kreisler recital contains a number of these "forgeries”: the "Francoeur" Sicilienne et Rigaudon; the "Pugnani" Tempo di minuetto, the "Boccherini" Allegretto, and the "Louis Couperin" Aubade provencale. There are also some transcriptions of genuine works by other composers, though the list provided me does not so specify. "La Clochette" is a version of the final movement of Paganini's second violin concerto, perhaps best known in Liszt's piano arrangement called "La Campanella." "Tango" is the old Albeniz chestnut (D major), "Mazurka" is Chopin, A minor, Op. 67, No. 4, and "Frasquita" is the song "My little nest of heavenly blue" from Lehar's operetta of that name. "La Gitana" and "Recitative and Scherzo" --the latter a "serious" piece for solo violin--are Kreisler as Kreisler, as is "Love's Sorrow," the one commonplace selection in this entire recital. "Melodie" eludes me for the moment.

 

The perpetrator of this interesting program is a young woman whose name has been hard to escape in musical circles lately, and who makes her recording debut here as a soloist. Ani Kafavian, Istanbul­-born and Juilliard-trained, is one of the most exciting fiddlers around. She has won many prizes and in the current season alone has played the Beethoven Concerto with the New York Philharmonic, the Mozart G major concerto in the "Mostly Mozart" Festival at Avery Fisher Hall, and appeared as featured artist with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. In the spring she will give her first Alice Tully Hall solo recital. She is a performer to be taken note of.

 

Kreisler also wrote the score to a film called ''The King Steps Out,'' starring Grace Moore and Fernand Gravet. Remember Fernand?

 

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