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Laurie Niles

Violin Community News 2010, Op. 25

October 22, 2010 at 6:12 PM

Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers has purchased the "ex-Molitor" Stradivarius violin for $3.6 million. The fiddle once belonged to Napoleon, according to a number of sources, and to a general in Napoleon's amry, Count Gabriel-Jean-Joseph Molitor, thus the name. The violin more recently was on long-term loan to Jascha Brodsky, through the Curtis Institute. Meyers will play it for the first time in public this weekend, when she performs the Barber Concerto with the Pasadena Symphony. The purchase price apparently broke a record, the previous record being set by the "Hammer" Stradivarius, which sold for $3.54 million at Christie's, New York, in 2006. Tarisio clearly is pleased!


Anne Akiko Meyers
Photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco.

* * *

I received several e-mails from members in Europe who are very concerned about the state of affairs in Netherlands, where the new Dutch government has announced plans to eliminate the Netherlands Broadcasting Music Center (MCO), closing three radio orchestras, the Netherlands Radio Choir, a music library and an education department.

A statement on the MCO website says: "Without any further explanation the future of four highly renowned broadcasting ensembles has become uncertain. The rug is being pulled out from under a distinctively Dutch music culture that can be heard in abundance via radio, television, online, and live in well-filled concert halls such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Vredenburg Leidsche Rijn in Utrecht, at the Holland Festival, Pinkpop and the North Sea Jazz Festival."

If you would like to sign a petition in support of the MCO, please do so on this page:

"They desperately need 100.000 votes till next Tuesday," wrote member Maria Held to me today. "The whole world envies Europe for its orchestral culture, and short-sighted politicians destroy the work of generations..."

Yes, much of this page is in Dutch. Here is a translation of what you'd be signing: "Yes, I support the MCO. The MCO is an indispensable pillar of the Dutch music scene and must stay." If you want to translate more of the page, here is the link for Google Translate, just cut and paste anything into there.

* * *

This weekend Russian violinist Mikhail Simonyan, 25, will fill in for Midori, who suffered a back strain and canceled her performance of the Shostakovich Violin Concerto with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Simonyan will play the Shostakovich in her place, with guest conductor Gilbert Varga.

* * *

If you are in Boston Nov. 4, you just might want to check out Berklee College of Music's first-ever String Showcase. First, you might be the audience member who wins the Yamaha electric violin that they will give away that night. Second, you might just want to see the alternate routes that many string players are choosing these days. Violin performance student Jakub Trasak came up with the idea for an allings event at Berklee, where the string department is growing as more string players are drawn to bluegrass and American music traditions. Trasak himself grew up in Prague, where classical music tends to be the focus for a violinist. Instead, he had a passion for bluegrass and country music. The String Showcase will feature a range of styles, from bluegrass, Americana, chambergrass and Irish to jazz, r&b, Latin, and swing. About 50 students will play violins, violas, cellos, mandolins, banjos, and harps.

Here's more information on the event:


From Jonathan Frohnen
Posted on October 22, 2010 at 8:13 PM

That's great news about the Strad!  I'm glad it won't be trapped behind glass in some museum.

From Bram Heemskerk
Posted on October 22, 2010 at 10:20 PM

It is terrible that they want to delete the MCO in the Netherlands 3 orchestra's, a choir and a music library (I have copied there pieces). Short time ago I heard 1 of those orchestra play Szymanovski violin concerto with Simone Lamsma in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. They better can reduce the high salaries of conductors and soloists.

Conductor Lorin Maazel earned 3, 3 millon dollar  (about 2,5 millon euro), as written in an article of the New York Times for 1 season for the  New York Philharmonic, they wrote on the classical Radio4-website. That is 500.000 dollar (385.000 euro ) more than the season therefore.

I can imagine that politicians did not want to spent public money for this absurd salaries and than choose to close the whole orchestra.

From Rosalind Porter
Posted on October 23, 2010 at 7:43 PM

Laurie:   Any chance you could do an interview with Anne Akiko Meyers about her new Strad?  

I'm especially fascinated that she would play it in concert so soon after acquiring the instrument.  Wouldn't it take a while to really get to know an instrument like that?  Or maybe it plays really easily and didn't need any period of adjustment with its new violinist?  

The Netherlands situation is very worrying, one can only hope that some kind of compromise will be found....

From Laurie Niles
Posted on October 23, 2010 at 10:21 PM

 Indeed, I spoke with her yesterday while she was in Pasadena. Actually she is still here, playing the Barber concerto tonight with the Pasadena Symphony. So you will see that interview soon. :) P.S. yes I did get to take a look at this very beautiful instrument and play a few notes. Very happy for her, it is a very special fiddle.

From Hayne Kim
Posted on October 24, 2010 at 1:21 PM

I hadn't realized there was a strings program at all at Berklee. It's absolutely true and fascinating that many violinists are seeking "alternative" routes to their music careers these days, and often by dabbling in non-classical genres. It was kind of a culture shock for me to come in as a freshman violinist to Manhattan School of Music and be assigned to play in their Jazz Philharmonic orchestra and be told that in the world today, I would be needing this kind of exposure. It took some getting used to but by my second year I got to the point where I almost started enjoying playing music which I had initially thought was unfitting for my instrument and incomprehensible by myself. This event sounds like a lot of fun - I hope it is a success! 

From Rosalind Porter
Posted on October 24, 2010 at 6:26 PM

Wow, that's very cool about the interview Laurie - I'll definitely be looking out for that!!

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