Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Incomparable William Primrose

Today I offer two early recordings by the great viola virtuoso, the Scottish-born William Primrose (1904-1982).  Originally trained as a violinist (a few of his violin records can be sampled at the CHARM website), about 1930 he switched to the viola, and the rest, as they say, is history.  By 1934 he had made his first solo recordings as a violist, and by the end of the decade (at which time he was playing in Toscanini's NBC Symphony) he had committed several major works for the instrument to disc, including these two:

Brahms: Sonata in E-Flat Major, Op. 120, No. 2
William Primrose, viola; Gerald Moore, piano
Recorded September 16, 1937
Victor Musical Masterpiece set M-422, three 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 47.32 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 22.24 MB)

Bloch: Suite for Viola and Piano (1919)
William Primrose, viola; Fritz Kitzinger, piano
Recorded April 22, 1938
Victor Musical Masterpiece set DM-575, four 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 83.96 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 39.12 MB)

Gerald Moore's achievements as an accompanist are well-known, but I can find out little about Fritz Kitzinger, who copes splendidly with the very demanding piano part in the Bloch Suite.  He seems to have been a vocal coach and conductor as well as a pianist; he married the noted piano pedagogue Adele Marcus in 1940.  On records he also appeared as an accompanist for Charles Kullman, Ezio Pinza, and Friedrich Schorr, but this is his only collaboration with William Primrose.


  1. Always interesting items you share with us! Thanks again!

  2. Many thanks for these, Bryan. Primrose was one of the all-time "greats". I have a vague recollection that these were once on Biddulph (like the Primrose Quartet recordings) - I'll hunt around and see if I can find them.

  3. The Bloch was a revelation. I cleaned it up and would be delighted to share it.