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The violin maker book


PhilipKT
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I just finished reading the book, “the violin maker.”

I have pretty mixed feelings: it wasn’t engaging, and I kept reading hoping to find some kind of meaning. It wasn’t necessarily poorly written, but the author didn’t succeed in sharing any of the mystery of the art. I wonder if in order to write a book about some thing like violin making you must yourself know violins in addition to being a competent writer? I don’t know, that’s speculation. I don’t feel as if the author felt any of that himself.

I recently acquired another book called “the master violin maker” by Paul Fleischer, about a maker named John Larrimore. It’s a simple picture book, and in a bit of probably Unintentional comedy, The instrument on the cover is a pretty generic german Viola, ha ha. I enjoyed that book very much even though it is basically just a picture book story of a man making an instrument. It will be a gift to a dear friend’s children.

Anyway, reading the book me wonder whether any other living makers were the subject of such a book( The Larrimore doesn’t count: It has a different purpose and a different intended audience.) Did anybody write a bio of Vuilluame or Allard or Gand or Gemunder or whomever while he was alive?

 

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20 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

 

Anyway, reading the book me wonder whether any other living makers were the subject of such a book( The Larrimore doesn’t count: It has a different purpose and a different intended audience.) Did anybody write a bio of Vuilluame or Allard or Gand or Gemunder or whomever while he was alive?

 

If you were to write a “bio” of Burgess, I would write a review for the Strad magazine, if they sent me a free copy

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23 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

I just finished reading the book, “the violin maker.”...............

Anyway, reading the book me wonder whether any other living makers were the subject of such a book............

 

 

4 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

If you were to write a “bio” of Burgess, I would write a review for the Strad magazine, if they sent me a free copy

 

Do you need an imaginative illustrator?  :ph34r:

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On 8/4/2021 at 1:45 AM, PhilipKT said:

I just finished reading the book, “the violin maker.”

I have pretty mixed feelings: it wasn’t engaging, and I kept reading hoping to find some kind of meaning. It wasn’t necessarily poorly written, but the author didn’t succeed in sharing any of the mystery of the art. I wonder if in order to write a book about some thing like violin making you must yourself know violins in addition to being a competent writer? I don’t know, that’s speculation. I don’t feel as if the author felt any of that himself.

I recently acquired another book called “the master violin maker” by Paul Fleischer, about a maker named John Larrimore. It’s a simple picture book, and in a bit of probably Unintentional comedy, The instrument on the cover is a pretty generic german Viola, ha ha. I enjoyed that book very much even though it is basically just a picture book story of a man making an instrument. It will be a gift to a dear friend’s children.

Anyway, reading the book me wonder whether any other living makers were the subject of such a book( The Larrimore doesn’t count: It has a different purpose and a different intended audience.) Did anybody write a bio of Vuilluame or Allard or Gand or Gemunder or whomever while he was alive?

 

Lives of violin makers don’t have narrative action suspense. Maybe the epic descriptive broadness of Thomas Mann could have covered such a topic. Maybe the live of violin dealer DM could become a pretty interesting story.

A friend of mine said about me that one day someone will compose a song on me. I guess that’s good enough.

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10 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Lives of violin makers don’t have narrative action suspense. Maybe the epic descriptive broadness of Thomas Mann could have covered such a topic. Maybe the live of violin dealer DM could become a pretty interesting story.

A friend of mine said about me that one day someone will compose a song on me. I guess that’s good enough.

That is very true, it is difficult to write in an interesting way about what is basically artistic carpentry, I would imagine a biography of Duncan Pfeife Would speak very little about the artistry of what he did and focus more on where he lived and the circumstances of his life, because writing poetically about such a subject is really difficult, especially for 100+ pages.

And at the end of the book we didn't even learn whether  Drucker was ultimately happy with his violin.

 

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8 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

That is very true, it is difficult to write in an interesting way about what is basically artistic carpentry,

 

Well, Dmytro Didchenko shot and killed his wife in the New York Museum of Natural History, so maybe the story of a violin maker turning into a murderer would be interesting.

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To @Andreas Preuss's point, I am sure that there are actually many compelling personal stories about violin makers, particularly in the context of the history of their day. What was it like for the Italian violin makers when the plague hit?  What about the Civil War experience of Orin Weeman? Or Amédée Diedonne fighting in WWI? 

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5 hours ago, gowan said:

IIRC Drucker didn't keep his Zygmuntowicz violin.  He sold it to Joshua Bell(!) who apparently liked it.

Thank you, I wonder why that was left out of the book. Even as an epilogue it should’ve been included.

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BTW, in another post, Jacob shared an entire article circa 1956, from The New Yorker that had been behind a paywall. 
it is called ,”A Spray Gun For The Varnish.” Written by a well known violinist and writer, Joseph Wechsler, who had a 1608 Amati of his own.

It is difficult to describe why, but the article was not just riveting but beautiful. The author is sad and he helps us feel that same melancholy. “The Violin Maker” makes the same attempt but fails. We never got any meaningful emotional depth from any of the people mentioned in the book.

I wonder if the writer being himself a violinist of quality had a meaningful impact on the approach to the subject, which is mass producing violins rather than making them. We can certainly feel how he feels, even though he never expresses himself directly.

two thumbs up.

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7 minutes ago, PhilipKT said:

BTW, in another post, Jacob shared an entire article circa 1956, from The New Yorker that had been behind a paywall. 
it is called ,”A Spray Gun For The Varnish.” Written by a well known violinist and writer, Joseph Wechsler, who had a 1608 Amati of his own.

 

Joseph Wechsberg, not Wechsler

 

 

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Who is the target audience for biographical books on violin makers?  

IMO, all authors (maybe not authors of dictionaries) should write to engage a broad audience spectrum.  

A biography of a luthier does not have to contain action, suspense, and what have you, but it should be engaging.  

I am certain that if Maestronet forum members wrote biographies, they would be engaging!

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