Monday, 2 January 2012

Stradivarius shocker

The tendency for collectors and famous violinists to spend vast sums of money on antique instruments is one of the best examples of why classical music is often labeled as old-fashioned and elitist. Often it seems as though performers have to own a note-worthy instrument to br credible at all.

As a clarinetist I've often thought this was a strange idea - why should instruments that are hundreds of years old be any better than modern ones? This research, while not perfect, strongly suggests that the idea of a Stradivarius' superiority is an artificially constructed one.

In blind tests violinists couldn't really seem to tell the difference between the antique and modern instruments they were given to play. Of course, there are flaws: every instrument is different and if the violins and players were changed the antiques might come out on top. Nevertheless, the result does go some way towards disproving what has been an extremely stubborn idea.

Hopefully soon this particular element of entrenched prejudice will disappear. Starivarius' and the like remain brilliant instruments, but it would not do any harm to recognise the craftsmanship of modern violin makers, and stop unnecessarily judging players on a such superficial aspect of music.

How many notes would a virtuoso violinist pay for a Stradivarius?

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