While Cremona, Italy, is generally accepted as the birthplace of the violin, instruments by the great Cremonese makers quickly found themselves in the hands of skilled German craftsmen, who happened to live in a geographic and economic sweet-spot for violin making. German instruments have always made up a good portion of instruments available in the market, and the tradition goes back much further than the post-industrial era that German manufacturing is commonly associated with. Knowing some of the history of German violin making and the important towns and makers is vital for anyone beginning the process of finding and purchasing a fine instrument. The names of German makers, workshops, and towns are standard vocabulary for dealers, luthiers, appraisers, and players alike.
The history of the violin is a bit like the evolution of a migratory species. It didn't come about all in one place or all at one time; various factors influenced it's changes over centuries, and in many ways we are still writing the violin's history today, all over the world. Still, there are pivotal moments in the history of the way violins are made. One very important time and place in the influence of almost every instrument made today was 19th-Century France. Knowing a bit about violin-making in France might help you to know a bit more about your own instrument, and will certainly help anyone interested in buying a fine violin, viola, or cello to understand the wide variety in age, style, sound, and price of what's on the market.
Ever wondered just how crazy and/or avant garde your favorite composer was? SHAR Apprentices James Engman and Josephine Llorente have put together this handy graph! It displays, on X and Y axes, the relative sanity and aesthetic taste of your favorite compsers. Agree, disagree, or think the graph needs a slight change? Leave a comment for the SHAR Apprentices below!
In this week's letter to the violinist Alberta Barnes, I try to figure out what's so American about Dvořák's String Quartet No. 12.
I'm not sure if you all follow Alex Ross's music blog The Rest Is Noise but today I came across a post that has my brain in a tailspin. In a good way.
Ross's post is titled "The Appoggiatura Imbroglio", and whatever the words "appoggiatura" and "imbroglio" mean alone or together, the post is about Grammy-winner Adele and her song"Someone Like You". Apparently, the song makes EVERYONE cry. To help explain why, The Wall Street Journal featured an article on the science behind songs that make us cry. Here's what the article, "Anatomy of a Tear-Jerker", by Michaeleen Doucleff, says: