AT THE VIENNA CONSERVATORY
In reply to another query Mr. Kreisler reverted to the days when as a boy he studied at the Vienna Conservatory. “I was only seven when I attended the Conservatory and was much more interested in playing in the park, where my boy friends would be waiting for me, than in taking lessons on the violin. And yet some of the most lasting musical impressions of my life were gathered there. Not so much as regards study itself, as with respect to the good music I heard. Some very great men played at the Conservatory when I was a pupil. There were Joachim, Sarasate in his prime, Hellmesberger, and Rubinstein, whom I heard play the first time he came to Vienna. I really believe that hearing Joachim and Rubinstein play was a greater event in my life and did more for me than five years of study!”
“Of course you do not regard technic as the main essential of the concert violinist’s equipment?” I asked him. “Decidedly not. Sincerity and personality are the first main essentials. Technical equipment is something which should be taken for granted. The virtuoso of the type of Ole Bull, let us say, has disappeared. The ‘stunt’ player of a former day with a repertory of three or four bravura pieces was not far above the average music-hall ‘artist.’ The modern virtuoso, the true concert artist, is not worthy of the title unless his art is the outcome of a completely unified nature.
“I do not believe that any artist is truly a master of his instrument unless his control of it is an integral part of a whole. The musician is born—his medium of expression is often a matter of accident. I believe one may be intended for an artist prenatally; but whether violinist, ’cellist or pianist is partly a matter of circumstance. Violin mastery, to my mind, still falls short of perfection, in spite of the completest technical and musical equipment, if the artist thinks only of the instrument he plays. After all, it is just a single medium of expression. The true musician is an artist with a special instrument. And every real artist has the feeling for other forms and mediums of expression if he is truly a master of his own.
TECHNIC VERSUS IMAGINATION
“I think the technical element in the artist’s education is often unduly stressed. Remember,” added Mr. Kreisler, with a smile, “I am not a teacher, and this is a purely personal opinion I am giving you. But it seems to me that absolute sincerity of effort, actual impossibility not to react to a genuine musical impulse are of great importance. I firmly believe that if one is destined to become an artist the technical means find themselves. The necessity of expression will follow the line of least resistance. Too great a manual equipment often leads to an exaggeration of the technical and tempts the artist to stress it unduly.