Albertus Bekker's blog

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Beethoven, God and us poor violin players...

ImageIt is said that Beethoven truly believed that he was communicating with God while composing. According to one legend a violinist (not a violist!) once complained to him about a very difficult passage in one of his compositions. Beethoven allegedly replied:


"When I composed that, I was conscious of being inspired by God Almighty," Beethoven replied. "Do you think I can consider your puny little fiddle when He speaks to me?"

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Paul Dateh: violinist of the 21st century

ImageOne of the most interesting violinists currently is the jazz/hip hop phenomenon called Paul Dateh. He was planning to enrol in the violin performance programme at the Southern California Thornton School of Music, but switched to the Jazz course on his first day. He hasn't looked back - his youtube videos have drawn millions of views. Enjoy!

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A brief history of the bow as a playing tool

Violin bowThe article below was written by Stefan Hersch and appeared on the old Soundpost Online website (not available any more). It gives an excellent review of the history of the modern bow and the how it developed through time.

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The violin bridge - what every player should know

Violin bridgeIn my workshop I often see violins with problems that could have been avoided if the player knew how to spot potential issues earlier. This is particularly true for the bridge -- that crucial piece of wood that holds the strings up. This article explains the functions of the violin bridge and how to spot potential problems early.

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How to clean a violin

Violin cleaningWhat is the best way to clean your violin? This is a question that I often encounter. Most players only want what is best for their violin. They are faced with a myriad of 'cleaners' and 'polishes' sold by music stores and violin makers. The answer to the question is deceptively simple and might surprise you.

The best and safest way to clean your violin is simply by wiping it after every playing session with a soft, dry rag! If you follow this simple routine, you will never need any fancy preparations or polishes.

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Violin maker the soul behind the sound

Perfect pitch: Violinist and luthier Phan Thanh Tien plays a viola pomposa he crafted himself.Violin making nowaday is an international craft that finds resonance in all cultures and peoples. This story about a vietnamese violin maker appeared in the Viet Nam News and was written by Duc Ngoc. Click here for more stories about the violin making process.

At classical concerts, audiences see the people who make the sounds, but few meet people who make the instruments. Duc Ngoc talks with artisan luthier Phan Thanh Tien. Tien, one of the country's few professional violin-makers, believes that every violin contains a soul, a mysterious life hidden within it.

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Sometimes it is better to just pay...

Image(Click on the picture to enlarge)

 

 

 

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Vuillaume's octobass

octobassThe French luthier, Jean Baptiste Vuillaume, built this monster around 1850. It is 3.48 meters high and required two musicians to play - one to bow and one to stop the strings through an elaborate system of lever and pedals. It still exists and can be seen in the Cité de la Musique just outside Paris. I'd love to hear it growl... 

A more modern take on this can be heard on a recording of a work by the composer Roscoe Mitchell.

(Click on the thumbnail to enlarge)

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Wielding a Violin for Change in Afghanistan

William HarveyThe violin is one object that transcends cultures and ages like no other. Here is a heartwarming story that appeared in the AOL news today. It was written by Bina Shah

William Harvey is a slight young man with a shock of brown hair, glasses and a gentle, unassuming air. But when this Juilliard-trained violinist takes the stage, he's the biggest man in the room. And that's a good thing, given the monumental task he's taken on: using music to bridge cultural divides, both as founder of a unique musical outreach program and as a violin teacher at the newly inaugurated Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul.

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Vanessa-Mae: I want to be an Olympic skier

ImageThis articles appeared in the Telegraph newspaper and was written by Olga Craig. It is true that she wants to ski in the Olympics, but the article also deals with her troubled relationship with her mother and the current state of her career.

Plonked on top of the modest piano in the lounge of Vanessa-Mae’s Swiss alpine apartment in Zermatt sits a somewhat battered ski helmet. “How hilarious is that?” she giggles. “But in a way it’s the perfect symbolism for my twin loves. Music, my life-long passion, and skiing, my life-long hobby.”

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e-mail: albertus@bekkerviolins.com