Kreisler: Liebesleid (For Cello)

Perfectly playable in the same key as the original violin version, no notes have needed to be changed for the cello performance versions. Written in the same year (1905) as Schön Rosmarin and Liebesfreud these three little miniatures were published together as “Three Old Viennese Dances” and have quite a lot in common, starting with their charming, light, elegant Viennese style. “Liebesleid” translates into english as “love’s suffering”, not to be confused with “Liebeslied” which would translate as “love’s song”.

This piece is an interesting example of the difference between double dotting and normal dotting (see Dotted Rhythms). In the opening theme, Kreisler doubledots all the dotted rhythms (bars 2, 6, 10, 13 and 14) but in the immediate repeat of this theme he uses only single dots and likewise for the next 22 bars until the “meno mosso” section where once again he returns to the double dotting. As an experiment, we could also play the entire piece with either single dotting or double dotting. Certainly, the double-dotting exaggerates the lilting, playful, flirting viennese character of the piece. The Easier Version is only ever single-dotted.

This piece is also interesting with regard to its use of the dot as an articulation instruction. Kreisler obviously intends the staccato dot to mean a separation before the dotted note (and definitely not after it). To avoid confusion and ambiguity about how to interpret this staccato dot (see also Reading Problems), in the cellofun editions the articulation notation has been changed for these figures. Now, instead of a dot at the end of the slur, we have used a dashed slur with no dot. The dashed slur automatically implies a separation between the two “slurred” notes. The elimination of the dot also eliminates the possibility that we might try to separate the little dotted note from its following note, which would not only sound bizarre but also would be rather difficult.

Several historical recordings are available on Youtube of Kreisler himself playing this piece and these give us much food for thought. In all three of these recordings, he consistently plays several bars quite differently to how they are notated in the First Edition. So we need to decide what version to use as our “Literal Transcription” source: his recordings or the published score? Here, below, you can listen to Kreisler playing this piece:


Here now are the links to download the sheet music cello parts of the different versions. For the piano part, any standard violin accompaniment part can be used (available on

Edited Performance Version    Clean Performance Version    Easier Version    Literal Transcription

And here is a downloadable audio “play-along” file of the piano accompaniment of which several can be found on YouTube. A two-bar introduction has been added so that we can know when to start playing: