Saturday, April 26, 2014

centennial



Today, more or less I suppose and why not, I'm celebrating the hundredth birthday of my violin, pictured above. Back when I acquired it on this day in 2007, Mighty Reader gave the instrument the nickname "Czech Hussy" because not only was it built (sometime in 1914) by a Czech luthier, this violin also alienated my affections from the serviceable Chinese violin I owned at the time. The Czech Hussy is a fine violin, not a world-class concert-quality instrument maybe, but certainly a pretty good fiddle. With the exception of the house, it's the most expensive object I own. I don't know if the man who carved all those bits of wood, glued them all together and varnished them in the shape of a violin had any idea his handiwork would still be in use a century later. I am happy that it is.


Violin shop, Saska Street, Prague, October 2013. Photo by Mighty Reader

I have a fondness for handmade objects that are both useful and beautiful. Mighty Reader can tell you about my obsession with small boxes; I have rarely met a small, handmade box that I did not covet. A small handmade box that also makes music is a pretty impressive thing. About twenty-three years ago I had the chance to buy a 3-octave clavichord from a guy on the street on Capitol Hill here in Seattle. He wanted about a hundred bucks for it but unfortunately I did not buy the thing. It had a nice tone, strung with brass. The guy had built it himself and really needed money. I remember the keys were mahogany and ebony, very lovely. The case was unfinished and made of maple, I think. I hope someone owns that clavichord, and plays it regularly.


Me and Josef Haydn's fortepiano, Vienna, October 2013. Photo by Mighty Reader


3 comments:

  1. Happy birthday, violin! As it happens my daughters had their recital yesterday; they've been playing violin for about 18 months. Their teacher is Czech. He'd probably be thrilled to see your violin! (Ours are Chinese student violins--nothing special at all but good for what they are. The previous owner is a teenage boy now playing a Good Violin. He was the final number at the recital.)

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  2. I once had a romantic, whiskey-filled weekend with a Czech hussy in Bowling Green, Ohio, when she went cougar on me in 1972, but that is a completely different story more suitable for Hustler magazine than here. In any case, I enjoyed your lovely posting.

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  3. Oh, that hurts my heart that you didn't by the clavichord! But I'm glad you own that violin. My father plays the violin, viola, and mandolin. I remember, as a child, going with him to pick up a new violin from an independent seller at his house, and my father talking about how expensive it was, and important. I really should find out what kind of violin he bought that day. He still owns it. I took lessons from my dad when I was younger, but gave it up. I then picked up the clarinet in junior high and played it through my second year of college. I haven't played that instrument for so long now. *wince* Thirteen years. I wish I'd stuck with the violin, honestly.

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