The life, times, and travels of a remarkable instrument and the people who have made, sold, played, and cherished it.
A 16-ounce package of polished wood, strings, and air, the violin is perhaps the most affordable, portable, and adaptable instrument ever created. As congenial to reels, ragas, Delta blues, and indie rock as it is to solo Bach and late Beethoven, it has been played standing or sitting, alone or in groups, in bars, churches, concert halls, lumber camps, even concentration camps, by pros and amateurs, adults and children, men and women, at virtually any latitude on any continent.
Despite dogged attempts by musicologists worldwide to find its source, the violin’s origins remain maddeningly elusive. The instrument surfaced from nowhere in particular, in a world that Columbus had only recently left behind and Shakespeare had yet to put on paper. By the end of the violin’s first century, people were just discovering its possibilities. But it was already the instrument of choice for some of the greatest music ever composed by the end of its second.
By the dawn of its fifth, it was established on five continents as an icon of globalization, modernization, and social mobility, an A-list trophy, and a potential capital gain.
In The Violin, David Schoenbaum has combined the stories of its makers, dealers, and players into a global history of the past five centuries. From the earliest days, when violin makers acquired their craft from box makers, to Stradivari and the Golden Age of Cremona; Vuillaume and the Hills, who turned it into a global collectible; and incomparable performers from Paganini and Joachim to Heifetz and Oistrakh, Schoenbaum lays out the business, politics, and art of the world’s most versatile instrument.
©2013 David Schoenbaum (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I really enjoyed this treatise complete on the violin. Whether you make, play or just love to listen to the violin, you will enjoy this book. The research represented by this very detailed book must be immense indeed. As a violin maker I have read many books on the violin and its history, but this one blows them all out of the water. It is all in this book and presented in a wonderful way.
I went ahead and downloaded this book because I saw that it was Roger Hargrave approved. But I wasn't expecting it to be nearly as good as it was.
I saw that another reviewer complained that it felt like just a bunch of random facts about violins, and I can see what he meant, however I still found it incredibly interesting. There is a lot of history associated with the violin, and this book covers every single aspect of that history from musicians, to making, to literature etc.. I'm actually impressed by how organized it was. David Schoenbaum also throws in some entertaining jokes, anecdotes and other stories that keep you interested in what's going on, and the narrator does a great job delivering even the most sarcastic bits.
Overall I'd say this is one of the best audiobooks I've ever heard. It has so many facts, I will probably listen to it at least three more times before I get them all, but to me that's a bonus.
It is a long read, and might well exhaust someone who does not love the violin, but I do love violins and I really enjoyed the book. It covered much more material than I had expected, but the writing was crisp, clever, and clear. For anyone who loves history and the instrument, it is a worthwhile read. I will likely come back in the near future and reread some of the early history again.
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