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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Who is the most important father-figure for the violin?

June 18, 2011 at 9:46 PM

First, let me say Happy Fathers' Day to all you dads out there!

And now, I wanted to make this week's vote about father figures in the violin world. Some of them are actual fathers, some of them are not, but each of them has played a rather parental or fatherly role in the development of the art of violin playing. I'll describe why I have nominated each one, then you vote. Undoubtedly I will leave someone out, so if you have another candidate, please let us know, and feel free to add your thoughts!

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750): He was prolific both as a musician, and as a father. As a composer, he wrote more than a thousand works, including cantatas, choral works, sacred songs, organ works, other keyboard works, lute music, chamber music, orchestral music, canons and fugues, and of course our solo violin works. As a dad, he had 22 children with two wives (no, he was no polygamist, his first wife died, then he married again).

Antonio Stradivari (1644 - 1737): The father of modern lutherie, Stradivari made the violin the instrument that it is today. He made more than 1,200 violins, violas, cellos and other stringed instruments during his long life, and his craftsmanship and artistry remain unsurpassed and a source of inspiration for violinmakers everywhere.

Leopold Mozart (1719 – 1787): What would Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart have been without his pushy, overbearing stage-Dad? Seriously, Leopold was the force that gave young Wolfgang his early start and assured him the finest possible music education, and he sacrificed much to do so. Leopold also contributed greatly to violin technique in his own right, with his Treatise on the Fundamental Principles of Violin Playing, an exhaustive work outlining violin performance practice and technique that is still used (and sold) today. He also wrote many compositions for the violin; they are charming and clever works.

Shin'ichi Suzuki (1898 – 1998): He had no children himself, but he is the father of the Suzuki Method. Shin'ichi Suzuki literally taught thousands of violinists himself, and his Method spread around the globe like wildfire. How many people play the violin today, as a direct result of the Suzuki Method? It boggles the mind. He also revolutionized the way we think about talent, with his fundamental belief that all people are talented, given a loving learning environment and good instruction.

Ivan Galamian (1903 - 1981): His name appears on many of the editions of concertos and other music that students use today, because he edited so very many of them. He also wrote Principles of Violin Playing & Teaching, which is necessary reading for any teacher of the violin. Galamian taught at the Curtis Institute and was known for his ability to impart a high level of technique on all students, not just a special few. Juilliard superstar teacher Dorothy DeLay was his assistant, and many of today's finest violin teachers were trained by Ivan Galamian, or by proteges of Ivan Galamian.

From Michael Pijoan
Posted on June 18, 2011 at 11:36 PM

I voted for Galamian, but I'd also like to suggest Leopold Auer.

From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on June 19, 2011 at 2:50 AM

I also voted for Galamian but no name really jumped out at me and I thought that voting was the only way I could see how everyone else voted.   Laurie makes a good case for everyone, but Galamian is who my teacher follows.  Regarding Stradivari: No argument that building all those perfect instruments is quite an achievement, but remember that the bow is just as important and it was others who perfected it.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on June 19, 2011 at 4:07 AM

 True, what bowmaker would we nominate?

From David Beck
Posted on June 19, 2011 at 6:27 AM

None of the above ! Whoever it was that added the fourth string circa 1550 deserves the title. Could the threeing fiddles have survived ?

Conception was probably in Brescia, but actual paternity ?? As my violin fights me back I have frequently accused it of illegitimacy, uttering as I do so an all-too-frequently used vernacular expression.

From Ernst Spyckerelle
Posted on June 19, 2011 at 1:12 PM

My violin father is Ysaÿe. I know few violinists who have the same number of  works from high-class composers de voted to them.

He was a great compositor too, and as a teacher, his influence has always been underrated ( Lous Persinger, Menuhin's teacher, was his pupil).

From Viran Vuu
Posted on June 19, 2011 at 2:52 PM

I read in either the Stradivarius book or Guardineri book (by the HIlls) that the reason the violin surpass the viol was because of opera and the commercial side of things. So opera composers should be consider the fathers of the violin because with out the demand for violins to be produced for opera orchestras/companies, the violin would not have took hold as rapidly.

From marjory lange
Posted on June 19, 2011 at 4:26 PM

 I voted for JSB on 'existential' grounds, sort of the 'grandfather' of violin repertoire (those sonatas & partitas are like the bible of violin literature).  In terms of violin playing, though, I'm a 'grand-daughter' Galamianist--one of my most 'useful' teachers, James Buswell, was one of his lights.  

From Anne Horvath
Posted on June 19, 2011 at 5:58 PM

Archangelo Corelli.

From Mendy Smith
Posted on June 19, 2011 at 6:20 PM

 Papa Haydn :)

From David Beck
Posted on June 19, 2011 at 8:08 PM

This blog's gone père shaped already.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on June 19, 2011 at 8:21 PM


I also thought about including Joseph Gingold, who was a mentor to so many, including Josh Bell and many  many more. He also was an orchestral player, who put together three books of orchestral excerpts and also edited as much violin music as did Galamian.

Also, I am now thinking of Vivaldi, the Red Priest, a "Father." Hah!


From Andre A
Posted on June 19, 2011 at 10:25 PM

The most important father figure?  Who else?  How can 22 children be wrong. 

From Andrei Pricope
Posted on June 20, 2011 at 3:39 AM

I voted for Galamian, but would have loved to see Corelli, Locatelli, Tartini, BIber, Geminiani, even Vivaldi some place, but then how could one choose?!?

Not to mention the Romantics: Kreutzer, Spohr, Paganini, Vieuxtemps, Wieniawski, Ernst, Sarasate, Joachim, Auer...

Violin's mother was quite promiscuous, luckily for us...

From elise stanley
Posted on June 20, 2011 at 7:30 AM

Voted for stradivari.  twas a difficult choice between him and Bach - but major as the latter's contributions were they were not dedicated to this instrument but to all music of the time.   The popular figure of the violin can not be separated from the venerable luthier...

From Royce Faina
Posted on June 20, 2011 at 1:46 PM

I would put Stradivari as the father of the string family (Luthiers). I would like to see a weekend vote of Strings Father-figures; a) Luthiers (Bow et String makers). b)Players. c) Composers. d) Composers who played strings.

From Marina Akimova
Posted on June 20, 2011 at 5:30 PM

Auer is missing 

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