Florizel Reuter was born on 21 January 1890 (other sources say 1891 or 1893) in Davenport (Iowa, USA). His father was a musician himself, and his mother could play the violin and gave Florizel Reuter his first violin lessons. He showed exceptional talent and was invited to study with Max Bendix, the concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, at the age of 5. He was invited to the White House to perform in front of president McKinley in 1899 and then went to Europe to study with Emile Sauret, Cesar Thomson and Henri Marteau. He graduated from the Geneva Conservatory in 1901 as one of the youngest students ever.
After the graduation Florizel Reuter toured through Europe and the US for many years. First he was promoted as a child prodigy, later in a mature age he added the „von“ to his name to indicate German aristocracy. In addition to his concert tours Florizel von Reuter took over the position of the director of the „Zürcher Musikakademie“ in 1916 to 1917 and later of the „Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst“ in Vienna from 1931 to 1933.
Beside his work as a soloist and teacher Florizel von Reuter was involved into parapsychology through his mother in the 1920s. He stated to be psychic and could contact deceased musicians like Paganini, Locatelli, Tartini or Sarasate and talk to them. So for a few years he also acted as a medium and wrote books and articles on the topic.
Florizel von Reuter stayed in Germany during the World War II. In the late 1940s he moved back to the US and settled in Waukesha (Wisconsin). He became the concertmaster of the Waukesha Symphony Orchestra (now called the Wisconsin Philharmonic) and worked as a teacher until his death. Florizel von Reuter died on 10 May 1985 in Waukesha.
Florizel von Reuter composed a small number of works, mainly for his own instrument, the violin. Most of his compositions are forgotten nowadays and it is symptomatic that the composer Florizel von Reuter is now best remembered for the completion of the „Andante and Rondo capriccioso, for violin and orchestra“ by Max Reger which was left unfinished (the work was also renamed by von Reuter to „Symphonic Rhapsody“).
Among the compositions for violin and orchestra by Florizel von Reuter are:
Full scores of all these compositions are available here on my site (please check below). The original manuscripts of the compositions of Florizel von Reuter are archived at the Wisconsin Philharmonic. Permission for publication by courtesy of the Wisconsin Philharmonic.
Violin concerto No.1
The violin concerto No.1 was composed in late 1933 and premiered on 10 January 1934 by Florizel von Reuter (violin), the Städtisches Orchester Görlitz under Walter Schartner (conductor).
The following review of the premiere was published in "Neue Zeitschrift für Musik", volume 101 (1934), issue 2, page 216:
"Violinist Florizel von Reuter already revealed himself as a composer through his empathic and stylish completion of the unfinished Symphonic Rhapsody (for solo violin and orchestra) by Max Reger. Now he just finished his new violin concerto in d minor during the days of Christmas and premiered it at the 367. symphony concert of the „Verein der Musikfreunde“ at the town hall in Görlitz on 10 January.
The single movement work splits into four sections and is a free fantasy on an own joyful, heroic-gorgeous theme. The main theme returns in the finale and gives the work a brilliant conclusion. The complete work is written in a traditional style and the composer did not want to arrange a new relation between solo instrument and orchestra: the orchestra mainly fulfills an accompanying part, the concertante style becomes noticeable just in a few echo effects. The orchestration is deliberately restrained and sparse, beside of certain bizarre sound effects in the Scherzo movement and some important thematic parts, which are emphasized and lead to lovely climaxes.
It goes without saying that the solo part is rewarding and written violinistically despite its difficulties. The concerto belongs to the category of lively virtuoso concertos at first sight, but gains greater interest because of its sensible warmth and inner truth which brings form and content to a regarded humanly and musically match. As a result the composer could forego cheap effects and unnecessary exaggeration without lowering his success.
The composer, whose obvious evolution from a virtuoso to a responsible artist was witnessed with increasing sympathy in Görlitz over the last years, performed the Brahms concerto at the same place last year in perfect beauty and now played his own work with beautiful clarity. The Städtische Orchester under the baton of Walter Schartner accompanied carefully and with exquisite sound; the success was powerful and without any doubt. It speaks in the works favour that the concerto could compete seriously with the Hiller Variations, the Symphonic Rhapsody and the Vaterländische Ouvertüre in a highly challenging Reger concert evening."
Violin concerto No.2
The Violin concerto No.2 was composed in 1958. There is no information about a premiere performance.
Full scores, sound snippets of and information about the other violin works by Florizel von Reuter will follow here in the next months.