October 19, 1928: Violinist Frits Kreisler plays the Armory

On this day in Duluth in 1928, renowned violinist Fritz Kreisler entertained a crowd of over 5,000 at the 1915 Duluth National Guard Armory. Kreisler was a native of Austria who had lived in the U.S. from 1914 to 1923 after he was honorably discharged from the Austrian army after being wounded in World War I (he was nearly 40 years old and already established as a virtuoso musician when he enlisted). Kreisler was “known for his sweet tone and expressive phrasing.” The lead of the Duluth News Tribune’s story on the concert gushed, “To ‘criticize’ Fristz Kreisler would be like trying to criticize a sunset, or truth, or a waterfall. You don’t analyze such things; you just appreciate them.” The Austrian-born virtuoso played several selections by Grieg, Lalo, Ravel, and Dvorak, including “Gypsy Song,” which the Duluth audience insisted on hearing twice. The crowd kept calling for encores, and Kreisler answered with a rendition of his own “Rondo,” “Seranade Espagnole,” and “Caprice Viennois.” The News Tribune’s reviewer maintained his viewpoint that to criticize “the beloved violinist” was futile, adding that “adjectives have lost their use in praise of Kreisler. His art has triumphed. His appeal carries with it a spiritual quality. We release the cares life consistently places upon us and are lost to our sense of enjoyment and inspiration.”

Fritz Kreisler. (Image: Public Domain)