Albertus Bekker's blog


A Famed Violin's Fantastic Journey

ImageThis article first appeared in the Dallas Morning News and was written by Mark Wrolstad. It tells the story of a famous violin and its astonishing journey. Enjoy!

The mystique of the name Stradivarius has resonated beyond classical music for generations, finding a place in the popular imagination and even urban legend. You don't have to know a violin from a viola to know the stories - some apocryphal - about one of the exquisitely rare instruments turning up in an attic or junk shop. Now add another stanza to what may be the most contorted tale of all the world's prized violins - a masterwork lost for half a century, today in the hands of a new master.


Bach with a difference...

Django Reinhardt, Stéphane Grappelli and Eddie South Django Reinhardt, Stéphane Grappelli and Eddie South...



Caring for Your Bow

This article is by Peter Zaret and can be found here. It gives some very good advice on day-to-day bow care.

Bows are strong yet fragile implements and should always be handled gently. In wooden bows, the tip is particularly vulnerable to cracking. A bow belongs in a case when not being used, and most importantly, always loosen the hair of the bow when it is not in use, so that the stick is touching the hair.

The bow should not be used on anything or for anything other than the strings of a stringed instrument (ie. don't tap your music stand with it). There are some places in music where it calls for tapping the stick on the strings. This is called "col legno". If the bow is valuable even this should be avoided. (I used to tap the string with the ivory part of the tip). That usually satisfied the conductor. If the bow falls on the tip when it is tightened there is a very good chance the head will break. Even if it falls on the endscrew and the bow is tight the bow can break. Breaks in a bow are much more difficult to repair than cracks in a violin. Unlike the violin the bow loses most of its value, and the break is far more likely to open up again.


Play it again, Vieuxtemps. But for $18 million?

This article appeared in the NY Times recently and was written by Tom Hundley. The mind boggles...

After playing a few notes on the celebrated Vieuxtemps violin some years ago, Ruggiero Ricci, the American virtuoso, is said to have offered to trade his wife for the instrument.

After playing the Vieuxtemps, Mr. Quint said the instrument had “this ferocious power, this incredible beauty.”



One Russian is an anarchist, two Russians are a chess game, three Russians are a revolution, and four Russians are the Budapest String Quartet.   Jascha Heifetz


Mendelssohn by Chang

Here is a wondeful video of Sarah Chang playin the famous Mendelssohn concerto. If you feel brave you can get the sheet music at the link below. Enjoy!

F.Mendelssohn: Concerto in E minor Op.64 for violin & piano 



Gidon Kremer on his Amati

This is from an interview Gidon Kremer conducted with Pamela Margles and appeared in The Wholenote in 2007. Amati violins and Amati model violins are not generally known for their big sound, and it is interesting that Kremer's experience is directly the opposite. Another side note is that this particular instrument was stolen and surfaced recently before Kremer acquired it.


To pond or not to pond....

Over the years many people speculated that the Cremonese 'ponded' (soaking in water for a long period) their wood, either intentionally or unintentianlly as part of the transport process. Presumable this changed the chracteristics of the wood and explains the success of their creations. This paper by Barlow and Woodhouse appeared in 1990 and looks at the evidence around this theory.

The article is in PDF format and registered users can download it here.


Love to know the story behind this picture...


[Click on the thumbnail to enlarge]

Is that a bass made from a beam and a drain pipe? In a boat? Why?

If anybody knows the story, please enlighten the rest of us.



Top Billing

Noted violinist Jascha Heifetz, who often played with pianist Arthur Rubinstein and cellist Gregor Piatigorsky, often complained that Rubinstein always got top billing. "If the Almighty himself played the violin," he once remarked, "the credits would still read 'Rubinstein, God, and Piatigorsky - in that order."

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