The Violin Maker: A Search for the Secrets of Craftsmanship, Sound, and Stradivari – by John Marchese

If you have no interest in violins, I would suggest that this may not be a book for you. I, on the other hand, am interested in violins and found it to be an interesting look into the world of violin making.

It is pretty amazing that these music boxes made of bits of wood and string are such complex, yet simple, constructions. Even more amazing is that there are violins made long, long ago that are still being used and that are so valued that no musician can afford to buy one without either an inheritance or a patron. Indeed, many of the violins made by the old masters are owned by collectors and temporarily loaned to more renowned violinists for their use.

The book superficially follows the making of a violin by an accomplished craftsman, Sam Zygmuntowicz, for a well-known violinist, Eugene Drucker. It does not cover violin making in great detail, so don’t expect to be able to follow along and make one yourself. This book is more about the spirit of violin making.

As well as the making of the new violin, this book covers some of the history of the old violins, the Amatis, Stradavaris and Guarneris, as well as some of the violin players who use these old violins. These violins and their players exist at a level far above most violinists, but one wonders if the practical value of the old violins is a bit overblown. That is also touched on a bit in the book.

I started to learn the violin when I was in sixth grade, until I realized that it was going to be real work before I was able to play anything worthwhile. Like so many other things in my life, that reality led me to give it up rather quickly. I regret that. I now own a violin of my own with the thought that someday I am going to learn enough to turn out at least one tune, but we will see. As well, I would love to actually make a violin, whatever the quality may be, just to be able to say I have done it. Obviously this book had an appeal to me. If you are of like mind, or at least have an interest in music, perhaps it will appeal to you, too.

Finished 3/4/20