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About DR. S

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  • Birthday 01/10/1959

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    North Central Texas, USA
  • Interests
    Supporting the arts. When I have time I love to golf, walk/hike/camp, and travel.

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  1. It is a strange market. Yes the value has to do with more who made it, when, and where, than how good it is - directly. But indirectly, that value is at least historically based on how good, in general are the instruments that were made by that maker, then how good were the makers in the general time and vicinity that the specific instrument was made. The instrument I have on loan to me now, while we have not yet determined the maker, we know it is Italian and from the late 17th century, and that is high probability from Cremona. That in itself makes the instrument quite valuable, but does not guarantee that it is a great instrument (which luckily for me, it is). I have played several golden age Cremonese instruments that were awful, but still valued in the 6 figures. However, until you have actually spent some time with one of these instruments (a good example I mean), it is difficult to understand just how magnificent they are. I have played many great modern instruments, but not one of them can compare to the best Old Italians that I have played. Maybe perhaps in sound qualities, there may be some moderns that can match closely, but in feel and playability there is no match. There was a pretty well circulated study done years ago, where some fine players were asked to play a large number of very fine instruments, both old greats and some of the best moderns. The Author wrote the article to conclude that there really was no big difference. This was based on perceived sound qualities by judges and the players, but ignored the players' preferences and thought on playability. Some of the participants came out later to state that the old Italians were the ones they preferred to play, and while they were not told what instruments they were given, they could easily tell the difference by playing them. Perhaps in 200-300 years these moderns will be every bit as good as the old Italians are now. Who knows. However, all that being said, there are some really nice moderns being made for relatively reasonable prices, and yuo can also find some older instruments, without a pedigree, that are also very good and if you are patient and persistent you can find something to suit you for a reasonable price. But still, I dread the day I have to give the old Italian back, I will not find it's equal again - that I can afford, but it does, once it is has been looked at and appraised by the right people, need to be put in the hands of a master.
  2. Perhaps I can shed some more light on this one. Good older instruments are almost always easier to play. Now perhaps for an aggressive, inexperienced and lesser skilled player there may be some issues in that it may be easier to overplay one of these instruments, but other than that, really everything comes easier. Now there are a few exceptions, for instance, the Guarneri del Gesu Cannon is notoriously difficult to play. I have read accounts of great violinists having fits for the first couple of days with that instrument, but ultimately, once they figured it out, they all agree it is the most powerful, sonorous instrument in existence. Perhaps not so good for chamber music but great in front of an orchestra with a concerto, or a solo recital in a large hall. I know a player who has a Strad that he said took him a while to learn to play - but I am currently using an old Italian (Cremona @1688-1698, maker yet undetermined) that instantly made me better, its magical.
  3. The instrument was found on the Tarisio auction site. As it was in need of considerable restorative work, they apparently did not recognize what they had. I don't know what the cost was.
  4. Indeed I am lucky in being able to have this instrument in my possession for my personal use for a time. Cursed in that it will be taken away at some point. I must admit that my mind has been turned in the debate of old Italian versus modern. It really just is not fair. Soundwise perhaps there is a debate but feel and nuance, it's apples and oranges. Perhaps it's just 320 years of aging?
  5. DR. S

    I have been way for many years

    This forum is basically hung up on strings, perfect or tempered tuning, and bow grip, but I guess that is pretty much the world of violin playing. ;-) I ran across HKV in another forum, probably violinist.com, but not sure.
  6. While some of these factors do come in to play in many cases and I have said similar things in the past, it does not apply to this violin, because when I first played it I had no idea whatsoever what it was, and when I did see the label - it had no meaning - not at all uncommon to see a label like that in a German reproduction. All I knew was that it was a spectacular violin. The best violin I have ever played - and I spent some significant time playing it - was a Bergonzi owned by the man who made my violin. It was frequently borrowed by a concert violinist who used it in preference to a wonderful golden age Strad on loan to him (that he was contractually required to use for specific events in conjunction with his employment). The Bergonizi is without doubt better, than mine probably most anything else you can come up with, but this instrument is close and just keeps getting better. Just tonight I was practicing a passage and the violin was just ringing and ringing, it was surreal. And I keep discovering new capabilities, new nuances, and subtitles that I have never experienced before. The sound of my modern instrument is still pleasing to me, but the playing characteristics are clunky in comparison and it is far mor limited in many ways. For example, i can play the Old Italian up the G string all the way up to the end of the fingerboard and it sounds fantastic, Mine breaks down halfway up. And harmonics are 10 times easier on the Old Italian. People can definitely tell the difference between my instrument and this one, this is one of those rare instruments that turns peoples heads when you start playing it.
  7. DR. S

    Frank V. Henderson Bow

    Jay - I do indeed still have his bow and it is my primary viola bow, so there is no way I would part with it. While the workmanship is a bit rough, showing his age, the result is still a marvelous playing/sounding bow. I have tried out some very expensive, old, master maker French and English bows, but have not found anything better. He made it to my specifications and with those specifications I had pretty much nailed what I needed for my instrument. Benji, all I know is that I have been told by at least two bow makers who have seen my bow that they were familiar which his book and that it was must read for any serious bowmaker - of course this was 40 years ago, so it may have fallen out of favor by now. Brad - not surprised, just like my viola - among the best I have ever come across but not worth much more than I paid many years ago. I tried for years to find a 'professional grade' viola, but came to realized that the instrument I had, which I knew was good, was among the top tier of playing violas in existence. And this is not just my opinion. Valuation is a very complex subject having more to do with the makers reputation of the general quality of his instruments and little to do with the quality of that specific instrument.
  8. I currently have in my possession a violin found by a friend who is an amateur luthier and instrument restorer. It was in terrible shape when he got it (exactly where he found it I do not know at this time) and he restored it beautifully. When I played on it I knew it was something very special. Had that feel and nuance of a very old Italian (I've played a few), and an amazing rich colorful sound with tremendous capabilities of nuance - and so easy to play. As I have played on it, it has blossomed. The label is half missing but it says Cremona, (as so many fakes and replicas do, but does have a Paris repair label dated 1843). We sent it to a major house on the East Coast (US) and they sent it back saying basically that it is Old Italian, probably IS from Cremona, exhibits exquisite workmanship and design, but had no tell-tale features to give away the maker. They could not put a price on it because depending on who the maker is and if we will ever be able to ascertain that with any certainy, it's value could be anywhere between $50K to $6M. I have accepted the fact that I'll never be able to own it, but am enjoying the hell out of being able to play it for as long as I can. It was just played by the possessor of a Strad in the local Symphony and it compared very favorably both in sound and feel/playability. In fact when he started to play on it the entire room went hush and a crowd gathered around. Of course now, my personal instrument, which I loved, feels like a truck.
  9. DR. S

    I have been way for many years

    I remember you well - and HKV before he got booted off. He was piece of work, but have to admit, it was a lot more entertaining when he was on here. I only check in here about 3-4 times a year. Same old stuff, so I rarely post anymore.
  10. DR. S

    Forgotten Viola repertoire

    I'd say most of the viola repertoire - aside from the Bartok Concerto is forgotten and rarely played in public. It's too bad. I think in my lifetime I have had live opportunities to hear the Bartok maybe 4-5 times, the Walton once. And that is it. I think they played the Piston concerto on the local classical station once and Hindemith's der Schwanenderer once (which is such a beautiful work - Hindemith could only compose beautiful works for the viola it seems).
  11. There are only 4 variable. 1. Bow Speed, 2. Bow Pressure 3. Sounding point (where on the string the bow makes contact) 4. How much hair is in contact with the string - bow angle as held in the hand. Of course this assumes you have mastered pulling a relatively straight bow, and are not doing anything dumb with rosin (don't over rosin, just as much as you need - I only rosin up every few times I play, a little more as my hair wears out), and have serviceable hair on the stick - a cake of rosin will last years and years. I've never come close to using one us - it goes old well before that happens - and I play a lot. Play with these variables until you get the best sound possible. The one bit of advice or visualization tool that did it for me was a concept, when pulling or pushing the bow, best described as the feeling of 'pulling taffy' - to feel a smooth but constant resistance. Practice pulling the bow closer and closer to the bridge, listening to how it affects the sound - it gets more focused, but there is a point where it becomes harsh, you want to to that limit to get the best projections, but back off for warmth and a fluffier tone. You cannot play 'lazy' and have a great tone, you must always be 'working the sound - constantly adjusting these variable, but you can have such a pallet of colors to use once you get the hang of it, only the human voice is more expressive.
  12. DR. S

    Milstein's bow technique

    I believe the galamian hold is more versatile and less stressfull in general as it brings in more wrist and takes stress of the arm, so it is better for an Orchestra musician to avoid repetitive motion injuries. A soloist csn use a Russian grip to goid effect because it is grest for projecting, it sets up for a lsrge tone. But there are plenty of big tone soloists who use the Galamian Grip, Perlman, Zuckerman to name two. A user of the Galamian grio can certainly roll the bow flat, it certainly was one of the tone varianles I leatned go use.
  13. DR. S

    Paganini Biography

    To make things worse, he was somewhat secretive - trade secrets you know. Too bad, it would be a fascinating story I bet. Admired by all, known by few.
  14. DR. S

    Bad days

    We all have up and down days, in any endeavor. Natural biorhythms, nutrition, sleep, etc. However, working through these presents an opportunity to make a breakthrough. Often the most frustrating days are those right before a breakthrough.
  15. Schradiek Exercises. Excellent fluency exercises. And yes scales and arpeggios, but scale study needs to be systematic. Stand in front of a mirror and pull straight bows over and over and over. Get a good teacher. Do NOT get a bad teacher. A good teacher can lay out a plan, tell you what they want to fix with your technique and why (and why the technique they teach works). They should always be pushing towards relaxation and low stress positions. Playing the violin is very easy. Learning how to play easily is very hard. Look for a teacher who plays effortlessly and also has a good background in who they studied with.