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