Szeryng's strings

March 13, 2004 at 09:16 PM · Any one know what kind of strings he used?

Replies (8)

March 14, 2004 at 04:04 AM · Allen,

Very good question. I have spent some time trying to find a colour image of Mr. Szeryng with his violin (including all his album covers) that was of sufficient resolution so that I could discern the colour coding on the string windings. All I have (that is of any use) are black and white photos and black and white movie footage. In most cases the angle of the violin in the picture makes string identification difficult.

That said, in one photo I have, the violin is sufficiently well photographed that I can tell he was *most probably* using a Pirastro metal E and Pirastro wound gut strings. This photo is not dated but my guess it was taken in the late 1950s to early 1960s.

In the photo concerned, his E string carries the Pirastro trademark of the soft oval shaped tone filter used over the bridge. This was used on Pirastro strings for many years, and to my knowledge there was no other make that employed this sort of tone filter technology - at least not in the period we are talking about. It has only been in relatively recent times that Pirastro has adopted some consistency in their E string packaging in that they now come with thin plastic tube string protectors.

At the time I was student, synthetic strings weren't available and the strings available were pretty much the same as what had been available in the 1950s and 1960s. The Pirastro Chromstal E and Olive E were the two strings most commonly packaged at the time with the yellow oval tone filters (you can see an example of this in the book the Violin Hunter, where Ricci's Del Gesu is pictureed carrying a Chromstal E with the yellow oval tone filter). I can't remember how the gold label was packaged back then. The Eudoxa E usually had a tough, thick black tube shaped tone filter unlike modern day offerings. So my best guess is that the E string he was using at that time was either a Pirastro Chromstal or Olive.

As for the lower strings, the spacing of the windings and the pattern of the windings (together with the gut loops at the tailpiece end) suggest they could be Pirastro Eudoxa (purple and white), Pirastro Olive (olive and white) or the original Kaplan (yellow and pink). Back in the 1950s and early 1960s there was not much choice other than this for soloists in terms of wound gut strings (there were a few alternatives but they were usually the exception rather than the rule), and the designs never really changed (nor the colour coding) over the years that ensued.

As to which of the three, without colour footage it is hard to tell. My only colour photo of Szerying with his violin has both the tailpiece and pegbox covered :( My "best guess" is the lower strings are either Eudoxa or Olive or a combination thereof. The recordings I have of Szeryng are all on the Mercury label recorded in the 1960s and his tone defintely has that Pirastro wound gut "edginess", earthiness and complexity to it. I am less certain about his A string. When I was a student, most Eudoxa and Olive As were packaged with ball ends like they are today. In the picture of Szeryng to which I am referring, the A has a loop end. Whether Pirastro packed their Eudoxa or Olive A with loop ends back in the 1950s and 1960s I don't know, although I know Kaplan packaged them with loop ends.

Of course, everything I have said above is based on my knowledge from the early days and deduction, so there is a fair chance I'm wrong, but also a fair chance I'm right. If I could find any high resolution colour footage (photo or otherwise), it would be a lot easier to answer your question.

Myabe someone with more historical knowledge or resource material can come right in and give a definitive answer without any guesswork required.

March 14, 2004 at 09:06 AM · Thanks, Jonathan!

March 15, 2004 at 12:45 AM · These were the best shots I could capture from the new Szeryng dvd.

There are two bonus pieces which were filmed in color:

Mozart's Serenade No. 7, K250 - IV. Rondo Allegro and Kreisler's Recitativo and Scherzo - Caprice, Op. 6

they were filmed in 1975.

March 14, 2004 at 09:39 PM · Great Shot Chris L. Thanks!

Although it isn't crystal clear, he would *appear* to have a Pirastro Gold E, a Kaplan wound gut A and Pirastro Olive D and G.

Don't ask me what gauges they are LOL!!!

btw, I must get this DVD when I can afford it.

March 15, 2004 at 01:50 AM · The Szeryng DVD is definitely the best of the DVD that came out on the 10th of February.

March 15, 2004 at 02:32 AM · I just looked it up and it says it is region 0. I understand that to mean it will work anywhere. Is this correct?

March 15, 2004 at 03:13 AM · It should play on all DVD players, but where did you find a region 0 copy of that DVD?

March 15, 2004 at 03:25 AM · Hi Anton,

I found it here. Unfortunately all the EMI DVDs seem to be region 1 though.

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