April 3, 2006 at 6:17 AMI've been trying to hide it from the world but... I'm in love.
With a violin!
What to do, what to do. I was just going to date this fiddle, and now it's asking me to get married, and this time my parents have not volunteered to pay for the wedding.
It was a chance meeting, I live just a block away from a violin shop, and while I was there after hours, getting some strings, my good friend who I'll call for the moment My Dealer or maybe Mr. Matchmaker, said, "Hey, I've got this violin you might like. Why don't you give it a try?"
Yeah, right, right, I'll humor him. As if I'm even thinking about a new violin at this point. It's a Gagliano family fiddle, with a later scroll, with a number of cracks that bring down the price, though not so much that it wouldn't still be a tremendous feat to buy it. Right, I'll try it!
So I played it. I played in that room for a mighty long time, Mr. Matchmaker there listening to me play. "After all these years, Laurie," he said. "I've never heard you play. I never knew you played so well!" Frankly, I never knew I played so well, either. I played everything I could remember on it, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Meditation, more Bach. I think it liked me, because suddenly I felt like the fiddle itself was making requests. Suddenly I was playing the Wieniawski Concerto, which I hadn't played in nearly 20 years. I even found myself playing the Brahms, until I realized, hey wait, I don't know how to play the Brahms. I took this fiddle off my chin and looked at it. Enchanted piece of wood?
"Take it home for a few days, see what you think," said my friend. As he was signing out the fiddle, I nearly started to cry. "What's wrong, Laurie, this is a good thing!"
But I actually want it! This is not a good thing!
In a state of insanity, I called my parents. I called my coach. This was all while I was walking home. I came into our apartment.
"Laurie what took you so long?" asked Robert.
"This violin!" I said excitedly, and I started opening the case, had the fiddle out, started playing. "See, see! It's responsive! I can play so much, I just can't believe it..."
"Laurie," Robert said soberly, "You weren't looking for a violin. Especially at... that price."
"I know," I said slowly, "But I'm just going to die one day, whether I get a good violin or not. I can wait till I'm 65 and can afford it, or find a way to get it while I'm still playing, while it still makes a difference."
"Okay..." Robert said. "See what you think in a few days."
My Dealer has let me borrow the violin a bit longer. I'll use it for my LA Phil audition. I've shown it to a lot of people, and I know all its cracks and flaws. And I still love it, and I still want it. I've had people fall in love with it, too. And I've had other reactions. One person looked at the cracks, said it wasn't worth the price, said he could find me a better one for less. I've tried about 10 others, but I still want this one. Another said, "Sad to say, but the price isn't all that bad, for a really fine instrument. I mean, yes, it's that bad. But, no, it's not that bad!"
Another person whom I trust a lot looked it over and said, "I think it is what it is. The back matches the front, matches the ribs. It has all the characteristics. And it has a nice sound." Another violin maker said, "It has that Gagliano, honey sound." I've two different people play it for just a minute and hand it back, saying, "It's just so different from mine, I don't even know what to make of it."
But I do, I know exactly what to make of it: as much music as possible. Getting a violin like this would be a huge commitment, a commitment to make a lot of music, and make it well. No one can make this decision for me, about whether it's right to plunk down big money on a fine instrument. It really is like getting married, you have to decide yourself, is this the one? Then... it's a big commitment!
The violin the inspires you to play, well, what else could a violinist ask for from an instrument? Find one perfect without craks and all, but does not give you the same level of inspiration, you are better off as a violinist with the one you love even with cracks.
Just my 2 cents. Besides, it is a very, very beautiful violin! Have a wonderful wedding!
Good luck with your decision making, Laurie!
Laurie, I hope for you that you can get the fiddle! I know that feeling; had it last summer when I tried a fantastatic Guagagnini, which I could never afford (and wasn't for sale also). Hope it works. Nice to be able all that you want on an instrument.
The fiddle looks beautiful!
I know from experience how addicting violin-shopping can be... be thankful he only let you try ONE fiddle! ;)
Laurie, just remember... you can live in the box the violin comes in. Who needs a pesky house to pay a mortgage on if you have a great violin?
I've never been the same since.
If you can do it, go for it! Matches happen so rarely in the instrument world with this kind of intensity!!
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