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Everything posted by gowan

  1. SOme replies above have mentioned that attention should be paid to the bow as well as the violin. There is an entire reperoire of bow strokes, especially as the pieces reach high skill level. Unfortunately many "student" bows simply can't do the strokes required. $5000 is a typical price for a professional level bow. To complicate things bow and violin have to fit with each other. People buying professional level violins often find they have to get a new bow at the same time. Before I bought a violin by a highly respected luthier I played a Mirecourt (French workshop) violin. Before I spent $20,000 a friend suggested I get a better bow and I found that a better bow made a big improvement in what I could do with my Mirecourt violin. Then when I finally bought my bench made instrument I used the good bow to help decide on the instrument.
  2. The Metropolitan Opera in New York City usually includes a modern opera in its offerings every year. For example Philip Glass's operas "Einstein on the Beach" and "Akhnaten", or one by Nico Muhly, which were certainly well attended. There have been many other modern operas at the Met. The community orchestra I play in performed Glass's violin concerto No. 2 which was one of the best size audiences we got except for holiday concerts. Certainly modern music can be put on successfully by classical organizations. Making this work requires creative promotion work and represents taking a risk. Unfortunately most classical music organizations are struggling financially, even world class groups like the Met, so we should not be surprised that producers go for works they know will pay the bills.
  3. For those interested in great antique instruments, the record label Onyx issued a wonderful CD in 2008 of James Ehnes playing short pieces using several amazing Strads, Guarneri "del Gesu" violins, and violas by da Salo, Andrea Guarneri, and Guadagnini. All the instruments came from the collection of David Fulton. For those interested in comparing the sound of the instruments, Ehnes played all the violins on a section of Bruch's Scottish Fantasy, and the violas on a section of Berlioz' Harold in Italy. Accompanying the CD is a DVD displaying all the instruments with the camera moving around each instrument giving as good views as possible short of actually holding the instruments.
  4. IIRC Drucker didn't keep his Zygmuntowicz violin. He sold it to Joshua Bell(!) who apparently liked it.
  5. I played in a community orchestra for 25 years and the programming was thoughtful and creative. The programming was done by the music director with support from a committee of orchestra players. Most concerts had a theme that related pieces being played. For example we did a "Scottish" program consisting of Mendelssohn's "Scottish" Symphony, Bruch's Scottish Fantasy, and Pee tr Maxwell Davies Orkney Wedding. The latter was not an old warhorse in any way. Another themed concert was based on folk music: Bartok, Copland, and Dvorak. I think we educated the audiences' taste in this way as well as providing a way into contemporary music. Having an imaginative, charismatic director made all this work. I think young people are more open minded about music. Surveys showed that the young, adult audience members were much more receptive to "new" music than the older people. People who enjoy TwoSet might also enjoy the interviews on YouTube by Nick Canellakis and Michael Brown
  6. First I've heard of that Mozart being played in scordatura. I agree that E-flat sounds good on viola tuned the usual way but I wonder whether tuning it up a half step might make it easier to play. I have played some Baroque pieces on violin where the score was printed with the usual key signature, etc. but the piece was to be played scordatura. That made it difficult for me because to be played scordatura the printed note was played (scordatura) the sound didn't match what my mind expected.
  7. It is interesting to consider what about the sound we hear tells us that it is from a violin. It is easy to tell often that synthesized "violin" sound is supposed to sound like a violin but is recognizable as fake. When we hear recorded sound, from LP, tape, or CD, we usually easily identify it as a recorded violin sound. What is it that we recognize? Frequencies seem to be important but recorded sound from an LP lacks much of the frequency spectrum. Back in the years when high fidelity pretty much meant LP (say in the 1970's, pre CD) the high end audio people used to say that frequencies above 20000 Hz, though mostly inaudible to the human ear, had an effect on the quality of reproduced sound at audible frequencies.
  8. The particular attic might also give useful indications. Suppose the violin had been found in the attic of a villa known to have been occupied by a friend of a friend of Count Cozio di Salabue ...
  9. In my experience that often bows get broken at the head and can be repaired with a spline in the head. Also often the actual playing with the bow does not suffer at all. Of course the money value of the bow takes a big hit with such a repair with the repaired bow having a money value 30% or less of the value of the bow in good unbroken condition. The repair can be done so as to be practically invisible. If you really like the bow and weren't hoping to trade it in in the future, this way you can get a great playing bow.
  10. I also love the piano quintet. It is a wonderful piece for the violist, especially the second (Dumky) movement
  11. I think many sources that sell instruments via mail include a clause in the trial agreement that the item must be returned in original condition and may charge for excessive use.
  12. When people have been marginalized or even excluded from a society, it isn't surprised to see them reject the culture of the oppressors. As for "classical" music there is much appreciation by members of minority groups, for example many African-American jazz musicians appreciate the materials of classical music. There are music conservatories that offer studies from outside the classical mainstream, such as Berklee College of Music in Boston, and there are others.
  13. If you visit almost any violin shop, even high level ones, you will find many violins hanging by the scroll or in open cubbies, exposed to the air of the room. Obviously, leaving an instrument out of its case is more risky than its being snuggly in its case, but if you are careful not to leave the instrument on the seat of a chair or couch or randomly on the floor it should be fairly safe. To keep it clean wipe it regularly with a dry soft cloth.
  14. Regarding managers requiring musicians to use, for example, wooden or brown instruments, has been known at every level of orchestra. At the top level I have heard of players auditioning for the top orchestras being told by the music director to get a better instrument. As for appearance, violists who play a Pelegrina, made by David Rivinus , have been told not to use that instrument because it looks so unusual. I can understand that because management wouldn't want a single strange looking instrument to stand out from the orchestra. As for blending and allowing a player to use any "fiddle" they might happen to have, how about an electronic violin, solid body or skeleton body, with amplifier and speakers? Also, blending can be too much. Some professional quartet had a matching quartet built for them by a well known luthier, all the instruments by the same maker and purposely designed to match. Ironically the quartet members gave up their specially built instruments, partly because some individuals didn't like their particular ones but also because the instruments were too similar and didn't allow for variety in expression.
  15. The chin rest is on the wrong side of the violin, too. I've never seen a chin rest that fits on that side of the instrument. Maybe this is a "left handed" violin. I wondered if the image had been "mirrored" but the arrangement of the pegs is normal. Some people like to play baroque music on a modern violin using a Baroque style bow, especially in the case of Bach. I guess it makes the Bach triple stops easier to play and same for some string crossing patterns.
  16. When you go to a maker (bow or violin) you will be asked how you play and what you want out of the bow. If you have never played a Baroque style bow you won't be able to say how you play with a Baroque bow. A Baroque style bow from a respected modern maker will cost the same as a modern style bow from the same maker, i.e. thousands of dollars. Personally I would be reluctant to spend so much on something I know so little about. I would recommend getting an inexpensive bow, something like what Shar sells (under $200). If you use such a bow enough to appreciate the difference between Baroque and modern style you would be in a position to make judgments about more expensive, better, bows. I was happy to see David Hawthorne mentioned in a post above. The late Judson Griffin was a well respected early music musician in the New York City area and he owned Bows by Hawthorne which he strongly recommended.
  17. At some point someone buying a fine instrument has to trust someone involved, either the seller, dealer, or maker. There are so many stories of faked instruments that fool even so-called experts, the "Balfour" strad for example. One would think that buying from a living maker would be reliable as regards authenticity but it seems that an unscrupulous maker could import a white instrument and "finish" it and sell it as completely his own work and for his much higher price. There are so many pitfalls. If I were buying an instrument I would put most importance on how it plays and sounds. It would be nice if, when I can no longer play the instrument, it could be sold for a good price but the market is so changeable due, for example, to flooding by Chinese instruments, I could not count on future prices.
  18. Two extremely hard woods are lignum vitae and ipe. I saw somewhere that Lynn Hannings used ipe as a bow wood. Of course it is a rain forest wood. It is widely used to make decks with.
  19. Rachel Barton Pine usually plays a del Gesu, the 1742 "Soldat". In the small NPR studio we are very close to the violin and, to me, it has a wirey edgy sound which might serve well in a large hall. The warmth and softness of Sato's instrument, a Giovanni Grancino (1695), would at least partly be due to the gut strings and Baroque technique. It appears he was playing in a rather large room, maybe in a church(?), but from the reverb it would seem to be heard some distance away. For comparison I listened to Rachel Podger's recording of the piece and her interpretation seemed close to what Sato does.
  20. I want to play in an early music group but I can't afford to buy or commission a violin to play historically informed performance style. I thought I could just put some gut strings on a modern violin, have a baroque style bridge installed and use a baroque style bow but I have heard that using the baroque bridge and bow won't work because the neck angle will be wrong, the bridge won't work properly with the stronger bass bar. Do any of the makers here know whether this makes sense ? Thanks for your comments.
  21. I know of several women of petite stature who play 7/8th or 3/4th violins. One woman played a full size violin professionally but tried a 3/4th testing the sound and setup for a student and found that she liked it so much she kept it for herself! I'd also say that you have to be very careful with exercises to make your hand do what it doesn't want to do. So many musicians have injured themselves doing hand stretching exercises, even ones from famous methods books . If it is painful don't do it is my recommendation.
  22. FWIW Gidon Kremer has been playing a Nicolo Amati violin and prefers it to the Guarneri del Gesu he had been playing.
  23. What happens when instruments are bought from the UK or from the EU by USA citizens?
  24. I think slab cut backs are common in violas. Anyone want to comment on this except to make a viola joke out of it? E.g. there are so many viola jokes because violas are often made from joke wood.
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