The Kreisler Violin
I am extremely fortunate to play on an 18th century German violin, formerly owned by virtuoso Fritz Kreisler. The violin was passed down to my great-uncle Tony Liguori, who bought it from Mr. Kreisler. Tony was a student of Fritz Kreisler, and later became a concert violinist who performed in Carnegie Hall.
My great-uncle Tony regrettably passed before I was born, sending the violin on a journey from the hands of one violinist to another. My Uncle Sonny, Tony's son, began to tell me stories about this violin; he would tell me about the sweet sounds that he remembered from his childhood when his father used to practice. He told me about how he would drag the Hebrew newspaper to his father, thinking it was sheet music, and begged him to play it.
At the time, the violin was being played by the Concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. I talked to my Uncle Sonny, and he kept telling me about this amazing violin. I had no idea that within a few weeks, it would show up at my doorstep.
One day, I returned home from middle school to find a large package with a return address from Seattle. I opened it, sorted through the plethora of styrofoam peanuts, and found a violin case. My jaw dropped as I unlatched the case and found a beautiful (and extremely cold) George Klotz violin, dating back to 1752.
Even being 13 years old at the time, when I began to tune and play the violin, I could immediately recognize the beauty of this violin. The tone was sweeter than that of any other violin I had played, and I instantly fell in love with the instrument. The more I played the violin (and the more time I gave it to recover from the frigid cargo flight from Washington), the better it sounded.
I've since named my violin Fritz, after its most well-known owner. I also found a picture of my great-uncle Tony with his violin before a performance at Carnegie Hall (shown below). Coincidentally, the violin made another journey to Carnegie Hall after exactly 80 years, after my piano trio was chosen to perform at Carnegie Hall's Weill Hall through the New York Youth Chamber Music Program.
It's hard to picture where Fritz will be in 80 years from now. It's survived everything from the USPS, to wine spills (indicated by the blotches of purple that can be seen on the inside of the violin through its f-holes). All I know is that I'm incredibly lucky to have the responsibility of keeping Fritz alive and playing.