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Stradivarius psychology matters


Questions. Questions. Even more questions. Sometimes answers. More often assumptions. That is a today's view at Stradivarius violins.

What exactly is it that makes "a Strad a Strad"?

Talk to any expert and take your pick:

Is it the varnish?
Yes, definitely, say some; it contained secret lost ingredients and Stradivarius took its recipe to his grave. No, say others; the formula for the oil-based varnish Stradivarius used was common knowledge among violin makers when he lived and has been chemically analyzed to a fare-thee-well today.

The filler or sealer?
(See above answers for varnish.)

Perhaps the wood makes the difference
. Yes, absolutely, say some; Stradivarius selected his maple and spruce from local or foreign forests long since cut down and he treated it in a special, secret way. No, say others; equally fine wood is available now, easily obtainable, and the old methods for treating it can be duplicated.

Or maybe it is the arching of the violin's back
; the elegant, masterly shaving of the wood to fine gradations of thickness and thinness; the carving of the f-holes; the placement of the internal bass bar and sound post. All have been subjected to meticulous modern measurement and acoustical analyses. Exact copies can be--and have been--made.

What about the impossible-to-duplicate effects of aging on that marvelous wood, varnish and filler, not to mention two centuries of playing? Yes, say some; that is what gives Stradivarius instruments their extraordinary, unique sound; a sound that causes listeners such as poet Daniel Mark Epstein to envision "little cherubs with halos" fluttering about a Strad while it is being played. No, not quite, say others. "There are old violins that don't sound good . . .

So, what was Stradivari's secret?


"In my view, there is no secret," says Carlyss. As a member of the Juilliard String Quartet, the Library of Congress "resident" chamber music ensemble, from 1966 to 1986, he played all three Stradivari violins in the Library's collection. "It's like saying, What's the secret of Rembrandt? The Strads are works of art. They're the epitome of baroque art. The genius used in making these things is genius. And even if they copy it--and they can copy it--they still can't imitate it. It's just like imitating a Rembrandt. You can do it, but it's not the same."

This expert from a fantastic article by Neil Grauer "Heavenly Strings" explains a lot about a complexity of Stradivarius violins matters.




I could add some more aspects to the theme, but it is more than enough evidence that value of Stradivarius violins is artificially increased - look my article Fine violin.

Finishing I just would like to pay your attention at two short questions:

What is genius? Who create progress?

Who really create progress..?


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