What strings did Henryk Szeryng use?
Hi. I’m really enjoying some recordings by Szeryng. I like the kind of sound he got. I wonder if anyone knows what kind of string did he use. Gut-strings? Dominant strings? Thank you.
Thank you, Gordon. That's an efficient and fast answer!
I'm pretty sure the Kaplan A doesn't exist anymore... If you want to try his setup, then probably go for an Eudoxa A.
I recall seeing his instrument strung with Pirastro Eudoxa. Milstein also used Eudoxas with a plain unwound gut A.
A certainly appreciate Gordon's revelation but there are so many new strings developed during the past 2 decades that knowing what some of the past masters have used, while interesting, I think it may be hardly relevant to string choices for a "random" instrument.
I suspect that Szeryng's wonderful sound was more a function of the violin he had and his talents as a violinist than the strings he used. I suspect he would have sounded as good with Dominants or any other good string on his violin.
I'm pretty sure the only strings to choose from for most (if not all) of Szeryng's performance career were wound gut and plain gut.
I have a theory that setups were made in Szeryng’s day to accommodate gut, as synthetics weren’t available. That could have meant different bridges, soundposts, etc. Just a few months ago I was able to get an older instrument singing better by using Eudoxa— in part, I think, because the bridge would have been made to complement those strings back in the 70s. EP or even Warchal Timbre were just a little too metallic-sounding. And the violins those sound best on might need some fussing around before they did their best with Eudoxa.
In what way would the bridge setup better suit gut strings? Thinner or thicker bridge?
Actually steel strings existed before the 20th century. Mischa Elman was using steel strings from at least WW2 to the end of his career. Synthetics were on the market already in the late 60’s and early 70’s. There’s a tremendous difference between the sound of gut and synthetic strings.
I was thinking of height, mostly. Could be totally wrong, but this particular setup is more forgiving of softer strings, that might sound less incisive on a more contemporary rig.
He had two instruments that he used for different works: a Strad and a Guarneri
Szeryng's "Leduc" GdG has been loaned to Augustin Hadelich earlier this year. https://youtu.be/vWbeFWfdXHw Looks like Hadelich prefers EP on the leduc.
I completely agree with what Tom Holzman said, but I asked out of pure curiosity. No doubt Szeryng was an exceptional player. I like how clear and clean his style was.
Ysaye was a Guarneri man, and would take Jacques Thibaud into a hall or church to compare his own violin vs Thibaud's Strad. Ysaye always got a lot more sound out of his del Gesu. But then they'd switch spots, and Thibaud always got more sound out of the Strad.
James Dong is both right and wrong (rhyme unintentional). Kaplan A Strings do exist, being sold by d'Addario; but the core is now synthetic, so no way could they be what Szeryng used.
Szeryng is my favorite violinist, so I've listened to (just a) few hours of his playing in my lifetime. Hearing Hadelich play that violin is very interesting--I do hear a little bit of Szeryng's sound in there--the bass richness really apparent in that violin. However, there was clearly more to Szeryng's sound than the tool (obviously). Szeryng has a cleanliness to his sound that is really unmatched by anyone else (a cleanliness well matched to maximizing the richness that violin brought to the table), and I really enjoy hearing the same violin played by someone else so the technical/artistic differences between two great players stand out even more.
Miguel, my father said any violin will sound better with quality strings. But then the cheap gut strings and steel strings of the time were indeed dire. Whether you'd get a better performance from your instrument with top quality gut strings than with e.g., Dominant, I don't know - I certainly got more expression out of my violin with Eudoxa/Golden Spiral than with the best quality steel strings available at the time (and probably now), when there were no synthetics suitable for bowed instruments. Steel strings did have the advantage that you got away with more shortcomings in your playing, but I got to the level where I felt I was good enough to play with gut and needed the additional expressive capability (I don't think synthetics are anything like as restricting in this respect as steel is). At the moment I've settled for synthetic because of its longevity, compared with gut. My E-string is a Warchal Amber, which is an improvement on any other E-string I've played on.
Thank you again, John Rokos. I'll keep trying new strings, and will end up trying Eudoxas sooner or later.
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