The Violin Beautiful

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  1. A couple more: ”Together”—2002. Playing by Chuanyun Li ”The Magic Bow”—another Paganini movie, but not wild like the Kinski movie
  2. Not luthier movies, but violin-related: —“Intermezzo,” starring Leslie Howard, and (I believe) Ingrid Bergman’s debut, with playing by Toscha Seidel: —“They Shall Have Music,” featuring Jascha Heifetz. The full movie isn’t on YouTube, unfortunately, but it’s worth watching. —“Humoresque,” featuring playing by Isaac Stern (Heifetz turned it down). Also not on YouTube, but it has one of the greatest endings on film. SCTV did a spoof of a few scenes in the 80s and Eugene Fodor played the music.
  3. I use my chinrest tool. It fits nicely into the hole in the side of the cutter. A little twist of the handle and it disengages easily. When I first got the tool, the shop where I was working used G2, which is a very strong marine epoxy. Over time I’ve moved away from using epoxy in favor of something that’s easier to undo.
  4. I hate to disappoint you, but you’ll never get the hard data you seek, because that data is deliberately kept from the public. It’s not as though auction houses want to advertise that they have things that have problems and couldn’t sell elsewhere, and the owners don’t want it known that their instruments are problematic. Many people who put instruments up wish to remain anonymous (for many reasons). Also, I have to say that I still stand by the statement that the majority of lots are things that have been passed over. I’m not sure if all firms do this, but some offer private sales, and many decent things are snapped up and withdrawn before the auction begins. Again, there are some good finds, but they aren’t plentiful. The thrill of finding the proverbial needle in the haystack is something that attracts people to the auctions.
  5. I base this on my time in the field. I’ve seen a lot of the instruments that went to auction and heard many of the reasons they went there. There are good finds from time to time, but there are a lot of things to watch out for.
  6. A known name is not a guarantee of an auction result. There’s always the chance of success, but keep in mind that most of the lots in auctions are things that failed to sell elsewhere. A lot of people use auctions to dump things that have issues, not all of which are structural.
  7. Auction prices are traditionally closer to wholesale prices. When it comes to the most expensive instruments and bows, they are in a class of their own, and the auction prices tend to be unrelated to wholesale. In the last decade that has been changing, though. Before the rise of the online auction market, most violin auctions were populated by dealers. Prices were generally fairly low. But once there was a wider exposure and more types of buyers started participating in the auctions, prices began to rise. Now some lots are priced moderately and some are priced higher. Occasionally a bidder will get a hunch and take a leap of faith by bidding above the auction house’s estimate. Other bidders see the activity and start to wonder if the one who went above the norm knows something they don’t and they make counter bids in the hope they can cash in on someone else’s discovery. To some extent that’s the nature of auctions, but the knee-jerk bidding effect seems to have increased considerably. Once a new record is reached for a particular maker, that record is taken as a new standard for pricing. As an example, once a Roth sold for $19,000, people started asking $12,000 or $14,000 for violins that would have otherwise been closer to $8,000 or $10,000. It’s worth considering that there has been a misconception for a while now that auction prices and retail prices in shops should be the same. It’s not uncommon for someone to come to a shop to look for violins having looked up past prices online or in the Red Book. When they see different prices on tags, they say “But the same violin sold for ____ less at ____ auction house.” Over times many people have turned more to just buying from auctions instead of shops, hoping to get the same thing for a better deal. That means that it gets much more difficult to use auction prices as a standard for pricing, as some lots sell below value and some sell far above (for whatever reason). This is not a criticism of auction houses. It’s just an observation that wider market exposure has changed or sometimes eliminated the standards of price structure. There seems to be a push for auction prices to define the retail market, and perhaps that is how it’ll end up. Currently it’s a bit of a gamble. You can put something up for auction hoping that it’ll cause a bidding war that’ll push the purchase price above the norm, but there’s always the chance that it won’t get much attention and will either sell low or not at all, which can put a bit of a black mark on its reputation among watchful bidders.
  8. Was it red? I’ve seen a few bows that had some kind of putty or glue in the hair with no knot. In those cases the hair was very old. Once the hair was out, the remaining red stuff would just crumble away when I touched it with a chisel or pick.
  9. I think an important part of what makes Bach’s music truly great is its timelessness. The music lends itself quite well to different stylistic interpretations. If one really wants to go for the sound of the time period in which the music was written, one might as well go the whole way and use a baroque setup with gut strings and a period-specific bow. I don’t think simply cutting out vibrato makes the music more genuine. It’s just a stylistic choice. I often choose to use minimal vibrato when playing early music, but that’s my personal interpretation. If I’m going for historical accuracy, I change the equipment I’m using as well as the playing style.
  10. You’re right. I was looking for information on that brand and got my dates wrong by looking at info on the other DRP that was a political party and was founded post-war. So to be more accurate, the DRP brand on the ferrule refers to a patent that would have been granted by the German government between the 1890s and 1952, when the DRP stamp was retired.
  11. My mistake, I meant D.R.P. Stands for Deutsche Reichspatent, which was a patent institution in Western Germany. DRGM is another common brand from that period (Deutsches Reichsgebrauchsmuster). It means that the bow had a patent registered with the government of Western Germany.
  12. I’ve seen a couple bows similar to that one. The mountings were the same color, but they were plated, not actually gold. One had that same D.R.G. stamp on the ferrule. It was in much better condition but it was a very weak stick. I think that one was stamped Albert Nurnberger. Its mountings were original to the stick. With the crude spline in the head and the misalignment issues, I’d stay away from that bow.
  13. Janos Bodor worked at Moennig in Philadelphia for a while before going out on his own. He’s currently making violins, violas, and cellos for the Violin House of Weaver. The violas have been made in the style of Otto Erdesz at Mr. Weaver’s request. The workmanship is quite nice and there have been plenty of positive responses from players.
  14. If you’re using a tight grip on your bow, I think that issue is with the bow hold. The bow should be held delicately, so much so that one could easily pluck the bow out of the player’s hand. The bow is held primarily between the thumb and middle finger, and the other fingers rest on the bow to provide extra stability and weight. A simple exercise to position your fingers is to begin by making a circle with that thumb and middle finger. The frog fits into that circle between the thumb and middle finger. Then the other fingers can drop into place. Another good exercise is to practice holding the bow only with the thumb and middle finger. This builds up a sense of stability and helps one to appreciate the stabilizing effect of the other fingers.
  15. True! It’s good that you’re spreading the word. So many shops use polishes and cleaners with oils by the gallon on their instruments. It always drove me up the wall when the rental staff in a shop where I worked in the past would use Goo-Gone and an extremely oily polish to “clean” the rentals; they were always shocked at how much dirt got on the instruments and how much cleaning they needed when they came back. Kids can make some unbelievably sticky messes, but they’re not entirely to blame when the instruments they’re given are liberally coated with the best dirt-attracting oil on the market!