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Justin Lee

Musings of an Amateur Violinist: Married to your Violin yet?

October 4, 2009 at 7:45 PM

I must say, I have some personal bias and national pride when it comes down to my favourite violinist that I’ve yet listened to.  If you’re read my blog before, it’ll come to no surprise that it’s James Ehnes.  He’s Canadian, born around the same time as me.

I read right here on our own’s interview with him about the stories surrounding his various violins.  His quest for his first master instrument, a Riccardo Antoniazzi - just seemed like being in the right place at the right time.  You can also feel the struggle and heartbreak on his quest for his current violin, the 1715 Marsick Strad.

Also in this interview, the book “The Violin Maker” was introduced – James was asked about modern luthiers and whether he could find a modern instrument to replace his Strad.  He’s yet to find one, but I’m sure he’d play it if he did.  Incidentally, the book is an awesome read!!

Today, I was doing some reading about another favourite violinist of mine, Hilary Hahn.  Also in a interview – she speaks about her Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume copy of Paganini’s Guarneri del Gesù Cannone.  In it, she speaks about her relationship with her violin as something of a marriage.  Each complementing the other, and when the match is perfect – sparks fly.  She doubts she’ll ever replace it.

As for my own violin currently, it’s an Eastman Strings 2007 VL305.  As someone who set aside the violin for 15+ years, it’s a good instrument that suits my short and mid term goals.  I haven’t gone so far as to name it yet, but we’re starting our relationship together.  Who knows, maybe it will open up to be the violin that I’ll play for the rest of my life.  Or I may chance to come across that “dream” violin that will make the latent Paganini within my soul stir.

I must say though, after reading from some of our many luthier members here on, I’d love to be able to even just play on a contemporary master instrument, just to see what I’m missing out on.  If I could ever afford one, I’d love to have a modern master instrument made for me.

As for my long term goals, I’ve pretty much set my mind to being able to play my favourites from Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas before I'm 40 (Ciaconna from Partita #2, and Andante from Sonata #2 are some of the most exquisite music ever written for solo violin).  I have ~5 years to try to reach this goal.

If you have been so lucky as to find that “marriage” with your violin, I’d love to hear your story too.

Everyone knows the Ciaconna well, but here is the Andante.  Couldn't find James, so I present Hilary.  :)

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on October 4, 2009 at 11:34 PM

Hi, thanks for this wonderful video!

We can never say never but I really think I'll keep my violin for the rest of my life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would have to pay a very very high price according to my teacher to have a maybe little better one(I don't want to tell this price because I have an hard time to believe it but she has much more experience than me)   Definitivly, except if I won the lottery, this is out of the question!!!   Also, you often pay big money for an old instrument that has gained value over the years because the maker is dead or because it has been played for decades.  I think I'm lucky to have a modern violin for this reason. It looks really new and doesn't have the "prestige" of an old varnish but who cares if it plays as well...   You can see the rest on the thread you talked about in this post.

So old or modern, what counts is that it plays magnificiently to your taste!  I couldn't ask for a better instrument so you can consider I'm married : ) and chances are very very very slight that I'll earn ennough money to afford to divorce. And what's the sense getting an old "prestigious" ($$$) one when I'm just an amateur??? Anyway, I consider my "husband" priceless!!!

Good luck with your new violin! I hope it is the one you'll "married" : )


From Justin Lee
Posted on October 5, 2009 at 5:47 PM

Anne-Marie, that's great that you found your instrument "mate".  :)

Hopefully, if/when you find your real life partner they aren't jealous of your husband.  You speak very highly of your violin from the various posts I've read of yours.  Would you mind sharing what kind of violin it is?

Would love to hear of other people's stories!!

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on October 5, 2009 at 7:33 PM

lol ok I'll send you this.   Well, I really love it that's all.    Yet, I really don't think it's because it's "mine".  I'm super picky with my things and strict with myself.  (sometimes too much)    I'm not saying it's a stard or anything (I hope this is clear) but I can't find a problem with it even if I try.  So I see this as a luck when I see much people complaining about the lack of this and this and searching and searching. It frightens me in a way and realize I could have search for 50 years... I don't know why, it's like if I know it's always my fault and see the potential of this instrument. I don't know, its sounds haunts me???  In a way, it's sad though, and very suffering because I know I will never succeed to benefit of all this potential, of this dream sound (for me).  The problem is that my ear is better than my ability and it's probably my ear who lead me to my violin. This will be for the next player who will own it... However, I prefer having it even if it is difficult to accept that I'll never going to use it at its full capacities and potential. To come back to your question, I feel as if I'm married to someone with talent when I'm just an ordinairy musician lol  But I repeat, I'm not saying it's a strad since I have never tried a real strad  and won't : )



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