The quest for the Stradivarius sound

Posted on: January 30, 2012

In Sunday’s (1/29) New York Times, Daniel J. Wakin writes, “In a dimly lighted hotel room, violinists blinking through vision-obscuring welder’s goggles picked up six violins. One was a Guarnerius and two were Stradivariuses, among the most storied names in instrument making and considered the epitome of violins; three were modern. The players were asked their preference. Only 8 of the 21 picked the precious products of the old masters, according to an academic article published this month. It was the latest salvo in the Strad wars, a long-running debate over whether the enormous worth of such instruments is rooted in myth or merit. … Consider the divide in the string world to be between the True Believers and the Debunkers. On the true believer side are collectors, dealers and superstar players who perform on the valuable instruments. All have an interest in maintaining the reputation of these instruments, as a source of both wealth and prestige. … Like many violin experts, Mr. Zukerman cautions that some Strads are better than others. What matters is the connection. ‘When an instrument suits a player, my God, it’s a match in heaven,’ he said. … The debunkers include scientists, modern luthiers and some younger soloists who can’t afford old master instruments and make a virtue of the new.”

Posted January 30, 2012