Albertus Bekker's blog


Albert Einstein on the violin

Einstein playing violin"A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?"
— Albert Einstein





How her husband wished she played the violin...

Piano fro bedridden

[Click on the thumbnail left to enlarge the picture]

Seriously, does anyone know the history of this piano for the bedridden? One good reason to play the violin instead of the piano...


Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra and El Sistema in Venezuela

Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra and El Sistema in VenezuelaThe Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra in Venezuela, is very well known across the world. Coming from South Africa, a country that also struggles with high levels of poverty and related social problems, I am fascinated by the incredible achievements of the Venezuelan El Sistema with social upliftment through music. I have shamelessly copied excerpts from an article that appeared in The Strad of September 2010. It was written by Jonathan Govias. I am hoping someone in South Africa will read this and get inspired...


Heavenly conductor

ConductorSo the violinist dies and arrives at the pearly gates. St Peter asks him what he did for a living.
'Played fiddle in the local symphony,' answers the unfortunate soul.
'Excellent,' replies the saint, 'we have an upcoming concert and we can do with some help in the seconds.
The day of the first rehearsal arrives and our hero is sitting nervously in the third desk waiting for God, the conductor, to arrive. God appears and moves (in his normal mysterious ways) to the podium.
'What's He like as a conductor?' the violinists asks his stand partner.
'He's OK, except that He sometimes thinks he's Von Karajan!'


Tom Robbins on Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg

Nadja Salerno-SonnenbergOne of my favourite violinists is Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, known for her fearless interpretations and passionate, electrifying performances. One of my favourite authors is Tom Robbins, known for his off-beat, highly original writing. When I came across this piece -- by Tom Robbins on Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg -- I knew that it has to be something special. You be the judge...

(This appeared in Wild Ducks Flying Backward, as well as Esquire, 1989)


How to buy a cheap violin

ViolinThe vast majority of the phone calls that I (and many violin makers, I suspect) get on a daily basis are parents looking to buy a cheap violin for a child that wants to start taking lessons. Here is some advice that I normally give them.



What size violin is right for me?

Child violin playerI often come across children that play on violins that are too big or too small for them. This is bad for their technique and ruins their playing experience. So what size is right? It is fortunately quite easy to determine with a single measurement. 


Stradivarius or Stradivari?

Antonio StradivariWhat is the correct term: Stradivari or Stradivarius?

Both are used regularly and they actually mean exactly the same. The famous maker's name was Antonio Stradivari, but it was customary at the time to latinise names, hence Stradivarius. He used Stradivarius on his violin labels and therefore it has become almost customary to refer to a violin made by Stradivari as a Stradivarius. In fact it has almost become a superlative expressing the absolute best, i.e. to be the "Stradivarius" of any field means to be the best there is.

The same applies to the Amati family, i.e. an Amatus violin, or the Guarneri -- Guarnerius.


Free sheet music

ImageI have started a new section of the website to offer free downloadable sheetmusic. Click on the link below or use the menus above to find it. I am planning to add many more pieces, so remember to check regularly.

Free violin sheet music


The church organ in Cremona

Cremona churchThe first instruments that looked like what we recognise as a violin appeared around 1555 in Northern Italy. Around the same time the church organ in Cremona was overhauled and the pitch changed. Considering the fact that the church was the guiding musical force at the time, it is interesting to speculate around the effect this had on the design and use of the first violins. Here is an extract from the essay 'Music in the 16th century Cremona' by Francesco Rocco Rossi. 

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