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Ron MacDonald

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Everything posted by Ron MacDonald

  1. "Mr. Darnton uses a Del Gesu model for the viola in his book. . ." Interesting! I'm lucky to have a Darnton viola which is a Strad model--exactly like the one he shows being made on his website.
  2. I have two violas. One, by Sarah Beaton of England, has shoulders on the scroll (a copy of the Conte Vitali) while the other has none. I notice absolutely no difference in weight that could be attributed to the scroll. When I asked Sarah about the scroll, she simply mentioned that she was copying the original. Aesthetically speaking, I rather like the shoulders.
  3. Diagnosing causes and cures of pain and discomfort falls outside the competence of most teachers. I recommend the book: "The Athletic Musician" by Barbara Paull and Christine Harrison, a physiotherapist and a violinist.
  4. Odd that he singles out Canada as the country to which he will not ship.
  5. James, I've heard and played only my friend's viola but it has a wonderful sound. I don't know its exact size but I reckon it's over 17 inches. I'm sure Joachim chose it for its sound--he could have had most anything he wanted.
  6. I've a friend, shown in my avatar, who plays one of Joachim's violas--also very large. The instrument which dates from the 17th century was made by Joachim Tielke, principally a viol and lute maker, and my friend still has the receipt issued to Joachim (violinist) when he purchased it from Vuillaume in the 19th century. Joachim also had a Stradivari viola at one point in his career.
  7. I have a Rocca of about the same date with similarly coloured varnish and exactly the same craquelure. I acquired it from my teacher at the time, Alfredo Campoli. Alfredo attributed the craquelure to the fact that the instrument had been in India for many years. Oddly enough, the instrument is mentioned in the current issue of The Strad in an interview with Alfredo reported in the Archive column. ". . . he cherishes his Roccas, one of which was recently brought from Calcutta where the rigours of the climate flaked the varnish but did not harm the tone." p. 97, December issue. Chances are that the "flaking" would have occurred long before the instrument went to Calcutta and would have occurred no matter where the instrument was located.
  8. A beautiful sounding instrument--but it might be his Guadagnini. My dear old teacher, Alfredo Campoli sold him the Guadagnini when he acquired the Dragonetti Strad. The Guadagnini was subsequently purchased by the recently deceased Joseph Silverstein.
  9. Especially remarkable since the Szigeti/Schnabel as well as the Szigeti/Arrau were live performances!
  10. On mine, I hold down "ALT" and type 135 for "ç" and 128 for "Ç"
  11. The "Messie" has been played by Joseph Joachim amongst others. Here is a letter written by him on the 23rd March, 1871: Dear Mr. Crawford, I received your kind note, and it is a great pleasure to be reminded of the most pleasant hour I had the privilege of spending in your house, surrounded by the treasures in your picture gallery and playing your splendid fiddles. Of course the sound of the Strad that unique Messie turns up again and again in my memory, with its combined sweetness and grandeur, that struck me so much on hearing it. It is indeed justly celebrated, and I hope that I may again put my bow to it someday. . . . Yours most sincerely, Joseph Joachim
  12. As a non expert, I'd just like to say that I am enormously grateful to Peter, Ben and Bruce for sharing their expertise here. I've seen the "messie" three times and I shall feel even better about it when I see it again.
  13. Yes, Hugh Bean was also the real deal. He played in our city and stayed with us while he was here. He let me try his Peter Guarneri. Wonderful recording of the Elgar Concerto.
  14. In addition to Alfredo Campoli there was also Albert Sammons many of whose recordings are still available on CD. I was lucky to study with Alfredo and I have one of his violins. Another of my teachers was a pupil of Sammons so I heard a great deal about him.
  15. Dwight, I wonder which of Szigeti's Guarneris your friend played. I was very lucky to be good friends with Szigeti over the last ten years of his life. I was only a student at the time but he was very kind to me--invited me to his masterclass in 1965 and for a visit and dinner at his home during the summer of 1972 and to his 80th birthday party at the Chateau de Chillon. He had a Peter of Venice and a Peter of Mantua that he carried around in a very heavy wooden double case. I'm very sorry that in many discussions I had with him, we never talked about his instruments. I know that Isaac Stern once remarked about one of them that it was the finest violin in existence. More recently, Mark Steinberg of the Brentano quartet has played one of Szigeti's Guarneris on loan from his daughter, Irene Magaloff (now deceased). Irene was married to Nikita Magaloff, the great pianist. One of the Guarneri had belonged to Tartini--but I don't know which.
  16. Hi Will. I can't comment on that particular performance but concerning the Guad, Alfredo Campoli told me that it was the most powerful instrument he had owned. He got it in anticipation of playing at the Proms in the massive Albert Hall.
  17. That Guad was formerly owned by Grumiaux and before him, Alfredo Campoli was it not?
  18. According to Norman Pickering, who studied the issue very carefully, bow hair does not wear out though it needs to be cleaned occasionally. The only justification for rehairing is loss of hair. I read this many years ago just as I was about to have my favorite bow rehaired. I decided not to do it and used it for another 12 years before loss of hair justified having it rehaired. I did wash the hair several times over its lifespan.
  19. I was once playing a Scottish violin (an Alexander Smillie) when to my astonishment the neck came off in my hand. It then became apparent that the only thing that had been holding the neck on was the glue joint between the button and the neck. Luckily, the button didn't come off with the neck so the repair wasn't difficult.
  20. Steel strings used to be popular among Eastern European violinists and violists but I don't think that's true any longer. In this case, the first violin is using Evah Pirazzis while the second violin and viola are using Dominants.
  21. I once poked at an alligator--but I was only 20 at the time. I wouldn't try it now.
  22. Have you tried putting the upper bows in the case with hair on top?
  23. Congratulations to Christina! Very impressive.
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