Violin Dreams

Overview

“A rapturous, witty, and passionate memoir ... Violin Dreams is not only the story of a man becoming an artist, it’s a history of twentieth-century music.” — John Guare, Tony Award–winning playwright

Arnold Steinhardt, for more than forty years an international soloist and the first violinist of the Guarneri String Quartet, brings warmth, wit, and fascinating insider details to the story of his lifelong obsession with the violin, that most seductive and stunningly beautiful instrument. His story is rich with ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Multimedia Set)
  • All (16) from $5.87   
  • New (3) from $55.34   
  • Used (13) from $5.81   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$55.34
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:

(407)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
0547086008 9780547086002

Ships from: Stoughton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$55.43
Seller since 2007

Feedback rating:

(819)

Condition: New
2008-10-15 Paperback New NEW. Unopened CD included! NO remainder markings. A brand new book perfect inside and out.

Ships from: Midland, VA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$155.00
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(164)

Condition: New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
Sending request ...

Overview

“A rapturous, witty, and passionate memoir ... Violin Dreams is not only the story of a man becoming an artist, it’s a history of twentieth-century music.” — John Guare, Tony Award–winning playwright

Arnold Steinhardt, for more than forty years an international soloist and the first violinist of the Guarneri String Quartet, brings warmth, wit, and fascinating insider details to the story of his lifelong obsession with the violin, that most seductive and stunningly beautiful instrument. His story is rich with vivid scenes: the terror inflicted by his early violin teachers, the sensual pleasure involved in the pursuit of the perfect violin, the charged atmosphere of high-level competitions. Steinhardt describes Bach’s Chaconne as the holy grail for the solo violin, and he illuminates, from the perspective of an ardent owner of a great Storioni violin, the history and mysteries of the renowned Italian violinmakers.
Violin Dreams includes a remarkable CD recording of Steinhardt performing Bach’s Partita in D Minor as a young violinist forty years ago and playing the same piece especially for this book. A conversation between the author and Alan Alda on the differences between the two performances is included in the liner notes.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Steinhardt (Indivisible by Four: A String Quartet in Pursuit of Harmony) turns this memoir about becoming a classical concert performer into an adventure. Beyond the specifics of a lifetime spent learning music (Steinhardt hated to practice but remembers swooning to Beethoven as a six-year-old), the first violinist of the celebrated Guarneri Quartet shapes his story with a series of almost mythical odysseys and visions that parallel his technical and intellectual progress. There is the search for the right teacher and the right violin, as well as quirky impressions of such virtuosos as Heifetz and Swigeti. But above all is Steinhardt's ultimate challenge: interpreting J.S. Bach's Chaconne, the most moving but inscrutable of all violin solos. Throughout, Bach is the standard by which Steinhardt measures himself, the artist whose "interlocking qualities of intelligence and sensitivity" he emulates. He knows Bach's history, deconstructs his music, even dreams about the man. When Steinhardt writes of his own fondness for mountain climbing or playfully labels an 18th-century instrument crafted by Sanctus Seraphim "the violin's answer to a fashion model slender, high-arched, shapely," his subtext is, inevitably, the effect on playing Bach. Watching this accomplished violinist take on the master is riveting; the feeling of immediacy he creates in its telling is an opus at once heroic and brillante. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The first violinist of the famed Guarneri String Quartet recounts his life and love of the beautiful instrument he plays. With an audio CD; Steinhardt will perform on his three-city tour. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The Guarneri String Quartet's first violinist details his six-decade romance with the instrument. Steinhardt (Indivisible by Four, 1998) begins with a dream, or rather a nightmare, comically illustrating his fear that he doesn't know enough about the violin, even though he has devoted his life to it. This passage also introduces readers to Bach's Chaconne, the last movement of the D Minor Partita, often played as a violin solo. This piece, we later learn, inspired the author to become a violinist and has haunted him for most of his performing career. As he relates his path from awestruck child to conservatory student to touring performer, the Chaconne makes several appearances; each time, Steinhardt is able to use events in his life to gain new insight into the work, culminating with a breathtaking performance in an unlikely and exhilarating natural concert hall. The author provides an inside look at the demanding and tenuous life of a professional musician: hours of daily practice, chasing the dream of buying the perfect violin, the threat of a seemingly minor but career-ending injury always in the back of the mind. But Steinhardt merely narrates this tale. Its protagonists are the violins that enter and leave his life as he searches for the one instrument that will produce the sound he has spent a lifetime developing. He refers to his wife and children only a few times, usually in passing, while the markings, provenance and sound of the various violins fill paragraphs. Steinhardt's passion is undeniably contagious; even the uninitiated will savor the technical sections for their revelations about the relationship between career performer and instrument. By the final chapter, readers mayfind themselves searching for used violins-or at least for recordings of Bach by some of the legendary artists Steinhardt invokes. A backstage pass to the life of an accomplished solo and ensemble musician, held together by sheer love of music.
From the Publisher
"Entrancing...There are marvelous stories here...this is a delightful and deeply touching book."—Richard Goode, pianist

"My heart soared while I read this book. I actually was moved both to laughter and tears."—Alan Alda

"Arnold Steinhardt has written a rapturous, witty and passionate memoir of his life-long search for the perfect violin."—John Guare, playwright

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547086002
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/15/2008
  • Edition description: Includes CD
  • Pages: 255
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Arnold Steinhardt is the author of Indivisible by Four: A String Quartet in Pursuit of Harmony. He is the first violinist of the acclaimed Guarneri String Quartet and performs as a soloist all over the world.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1 Survival of the Fittest

“Onstage, please,” someone called out in the half-light. Standing in the wings of Carnegie Hall, I felt my heart racing and the palms of my hands turning clammy. The stage door swung open slowly, framing the broad expanse of hardwood floor where, in a matter of seconds, I would play Johann Sebastian Bach’s Chaconne for solo violin. Doubts rushed at me like a fetid wind. Would I play well? Would the listeners, music lovers with exacting expectations, be pleased? Or might I be booed for a less than stellar rendition of the great Chaconne? Then I thought the unthinkable: Just don’t play. It was my choice, after all. Either cross the Rubicon onto the heady but risky concert stage or cancel the performance entirely, something akin to jilting your bride at the altar.
As if by alchemy, a delicious anticipation unexpectedly rose up in me, quelling my fears. Of course I would play! I strode onto Carnegie’s stage, savoring tiers of seats stacked dizzyingly one on top of the other. The hall’s grandeur swept any lingering nerves away, but the applause that I expected to float forward was absent. An eerie silence greeted my entrance from the wings, and when I looked out over the stage, my heart sank. There was no audience at all. Carnegie Hall, lit on every level by strings of shimmering lights, stood empty, like a great ocean liner at dock awaiting passengers before a voyage. Only when lowering my gaze a notch did I notice that a few people were indeed occupying the front row’s center section. Curiously enough, they all had writing pads and pencils ready.
“Thank you for coming, Mr. Steinhardt,” a man with a salt-and- pepper mustache who sat on the aisle called out. “We would like to ask you questions about the violin.” Before I could respond, a woman with a cigarette in her hand leaned forward and spoke. “Would you tell us about the violin’s early history?” Apparently this self-appointed jury was bent on going through with some kind of examination. Better to humor these people and get on with my recital. After all, the audience had not yet arrived.
I began to think out loud. “Let’s see. Antonio Stradivari was the most famous. He studied with Nicholas Amati. Amati was one of the early violinmakers. Then there was Maggini. Was he the first?” The woman eyed me coolly and chose not to answer. A frigid silence lifted off the entire group as I stood at the front of the stage looking down on them.
The man spoke again. “Please tell us about the string instruments leading up to the violin—the rebec, the hurdy-gurdy, and the crwth.” The names were familiar to me, but I was forced to admit the truth. “I can’t tell you anything about the rebec, the hurdy-gurdy, or the . . .” Without a vowel to move the consonants along, my tongue snagged on crwth as if I were afflicted by a speech impediment. My face flushed with shame.
This must have been the last straw, for the entire group of judges rose and began to talk among themselves. I searched frantically in my mind for a way to dispense with these people who had entered my life like a rogue asteroid.
Then the obvious occurred to me. I would simply play the Chaconne as planned. Let Bach’s noble opening strains answer the criticism of my tormentors and banish them from the hall! But when I tried to lift the violin onto my shoulder, it became unbearably heavy, and the bow refused to move across the strings, as if a quick-setting glue had been applied to its horsehair. The Chaconne’s opening three- and four-note chords should have been easy enough to play, but to my mounting consternation, only a strangled croak came out of the violin. From the corner of my eye I saw the man with the mustache collecting pads. He mounted the stage steps slowly.
A feeling of suffocating dread rose up in me, and then I awoke. Carnegie Hall, my violin recital, even the panel of judges who moments earlier had held me hostage, were gone. To my immense relief, the concert-exam was only an anxiety dream, one of dozens I’ve had over the years.
The bright morning light nudged my sleep-laden eyes open and I slowly got out of bed. Even in my early-morning stupor, I understood one thing. I had dreamed about the Chaconne because I was about to play it. A dear friend, Petra Shattuck, had just died unexpectedly, leaving a large family grieving for her. A few days ago, her husband, John, had called and asked me to play at her memorial service. Bach’s Chaconne, solemn and ceremonial, seemed a fitting choice for all of us who mourned her. Whether played separately or as the last of the D Minor Partita’s five movements, the Chaconne stood out as a towering and emotion- charged work. It reminded me of a mighty cathedral—impposing in length, moving and uplifting in spirit, and exquisite in its details.
To prepare for Petra’s service, I had been practicinggggg the Chaconne every day—fussing over individual phrases, searching for better ways to string them together, and wondering about the very nature of the piece, at its core an old dance form that had been around for centuries. After the many times I had heard and played the Chaconne, I had hoped it would fall relatively easily into place by now, but it appeared to be taunting me. The more I worked, the more I saw; the more I saw, the further away it drifted from my grasp. Perhaps that is in the nature of every masterpiece. But more than that, the Chaconne seemed to exude shadows over its grandeur and artful design. Exactly what was hidden there I could not say, but I would lose myself for long stretches of time exploring the work’s repeating four-bar phrases, which rose and fell and marched solemnly forward in ever-changing patterns. The upcoming performance for Petra clearly weighed on me. Why else would the Chaconne worm its way into my nocturnal wanderings?
An hour later, hurrying down the hall of Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts, where I have taught for many years, I passed the studios of Susan Starr, concert pianist, and Doug Johnson, music historian. Ah—the woman with the cigarette, the man with the salt- and-pepper mustache! We faculty members recently had lobbed questions at a squirming violinist undergoing his final oral exam. Most of what we had asked covered ground I knew intimately about the repertoire for the instrument, but some questions about the violin itself had stumped me. I emerged from the exam room feeling vaguely uncomfortable. If I myself knew so little about the violin’s origins, what right did I have to judge this young student?
Was my life too busy, was sheer sloth the culprit, or did the violin interest me only as a conduit for the music I played? After all, nobody expected a carpenter to know the hammer and saw’s history. Odd, though, wasn’t it, for me to be so ill-informed about an instrument that demanded such intimacy? When I hold the violin, my left arm stretches lovingly around its neck, my right hand draws the bow across the strings like a caress, and the violin itself is tucked under my chin, a place halfway between my brain and my beating heart. Instruments that are played at arm’s length—the piano, the bassoon, the tympani—have a certain reserve built into the relationship. Touch me, hold me if you must, but don’t get too close, they seem to say. To play the violin, however, I must stroke its strings and embrace a delicate body with ample curves and a scroll like a perfect hairdo fresh from the beauty salon. This creature sings ardently to me day after day, year after year, as I embrace it. Shouldn’t I want to know something about it?
But these are grownup thoughts, whereas my violin study began with a child’s perspective. At the age of six, the dawn of my awareness, I accepted all the wonders of life—my beloved toy train, the fairy tales that frightened me, a butterfly’s miraculous flight, and even the first magical sounds of my violin—at face value. When I rode my bicycle down the block, the thrill of its motion and the joy of having finally learned to ride it were what interested me, not the bicycle’s design or history. Why would I think any differently about the violin when I was learning to hold it and make it do my bidding? Unlike a lawyer, firefighter, or bus driver, who begins and ends his or her career as an adult, I am still inhabited by that unquestioning child who began violin study many years ago.

All morning long that day at Rutgers I worked with my violin students. I heard the things that violin lessons are made of—scales, études, Bach, Mozart, Paganini. Hanfang Jiang, a gifted student from China, played Bartók’s First Rhapsody for me. Hanfang played well, very well, and I was pleased with her progress, but did she know when the violin had come into being and who the first violinmakers were?
When lunchtime arrived, I walked over to the school library with my sandwich and thermos and began pulling books about stringed instruments off the shelves. Reflexively, I looked around for my dream’s tormentors. Isn’t it a little late? I imagined my anxiety- dream judges snickering at my attempts to learn about the violin some sixty years after taking it up.
I came across illustrations of two early bowed instruments from India, the ravanastron and the omerti, each made of a hollowed cylinder of sycamore wood and played in the manner of a cello. The primal simplicity of the violin’s ancestors was breathtaking: a sounding box, a stick attached to it, and a couple of strings stretched across the structure. Any one of us could approximate it with some spare wood, a knife, and a little time to kill. It seemed only a step or two removed from the most primitive attempts at an instrument. The early hunters could not have failed to notice the twang of a bowstring as it drove the arrow toward its unsuspecting prey. I imagined the hunting party later that evening, gorged on the kill, recounting stories of its conquests by the campfire. Some sated cave dweller, motivated perhaps by idle curiosity, stretched a thin strip of cast-aside animal skin over a hollow gourd and plucked it absentmindedly with one finger. He raised his eyebrows in mild astonishment at the reverberant sound. A new musical instrument, the prototype of the guitar, the banjo, the mandolin, the balalaika, might have been born that evening as the fire’s embers died away.
The ravanastron illustration also showed its mate, a bow of the most basic kind—nothing more than a slender, curved piece of wood with a string attached at both sides, but still recognizable as a distant cousin of today’s violin bow. It has been said that the history of the violin is really the history of the bow. When I draw my bow across the violin’s strings and coax out a sustained sound, a small miracle takes place. As if by magic, my gesture is able to produce an astonishing range of sounds akin to the human voice. The bow is a magic wand that sets the violin apart from plucked instruments. The accomplished guitarist creates the illusion of sustained sound by grouping notes together that individually die. But if my bow arm is in good working order, I need no such subterfuge. Germans call the violin a “stroke” instrument, an apt name, considering what the bow does.
But I have more difficulty imagining a script for the bow’s Eve than the violin’s Adam. Back at the same campfire after the hunt, how did the tribe’s musical-instrument inventor get the idea of stroking his musical string rather than plucking it? In response to his mate’s complaints about that awful twanging sound, he might have taken a smooth piece of cane or reed left over from a woven basket and drawn it across the strings. Perhaps he even notched it, if the sound proved insufficient—one of the innumerable little breakthroughs, along with myriad failures and dead ends, that culminated in the elegant object made of pernambucco and ebony wood, ivory, silver, mother-of-pearl, and horsehair that I hold in my right hand every time I hold the violin with my left.
I glanced again at the ravanastron illustration and realized with a start that I’d seen something like it recently in the New York City subway, of all places. While changing trains at Times Square station in rush hour, I thought I heard a violin above the din. A small crowd had gathered around a young Chinese man who sat between the express and local train tracks, playing with great energy on a cellolike two-stringed instrument. It sounded like a violin run amuck—the pitch rising and falling wildly, the vibrato frenzied, the music passionate. Despite his instrument’s foreignness, the sliding connections between notes and minute inflections of bowing were the completely familiar gestures of my string world. I stood transfixed in the crowd, listening to what was unmistakably virtuoso playing. When the music came to an end, the crowd clapped enthusiastically and began to disperse.
I lingered out of something more than curiosity. We belonged to the same fraternal order, so to speak. We were both string players. When our eyes met, I mimicked the motions of a violinist and then pointed to my own body. The man’s face lit up. “I play the urheen, an ancient instrument from China, where I was born,” he said in clear English. “Here you sometimes call it a Chinese fiddle. Sit down!” With that, the man abruptly stood up and pulled me over to the stool on which he had been playing. “No, no, no,” I protested, but to no avail. In a series of deft motions, he pushed me onto the stool and handed me his instrument and bow. “Play,” he commanded, grinning widely. “No, no,” I repeated more urgently. More or less the same group of people again collected around us to see what the fuss was about. It had taken only several seconds, ten at most, for me to be transformed from amused bystander to the main attraction. What had I gotten myself into?
I do not play the cello and I certainly don’t know how to play the urheen, but the man seemed unconcerned about those insignificant details. He gave me a lesson on the spot—even as I said “No, no” for the third time—by guiding both my hands on the instrument with his. To my amazement, a passable sound came out of the urheen and the crowd clapped once again. The rumble of an approaching train provided the excuse I needed to hand the instrument back and get up. This time it was the urheen player’s turn to say “No, no,” and we both laughed as I boarded the N train. An American violinist and a Chinese fiddler eyed one another with a sense of newfound familiarity through the closing doors.
I returned to my book and flipped the page. As if by command, an illustration of the urheen stared up at me. Next to it was a picture of the modern Turkish or Arabian kemangeh a’gouz, a ravanastron-like instrument. I looked at the kemangeh, meaning “ancient bowed instrument” in Persian, and wondered why it was familiar to me. After all, I had never paid much attention to any of the instruments featured in this dry textbook. Then I remembered the Azerbaijani taxi driver who had recently picked me up at La Guardia Airport. He looked at my instrument case as I got into the cab and asked what was inside. Half an hour later, I paid him in front of my apartment building. Once again he looked at the violin case in my hand, and then he glared at me accusingly. “Can you crrry on the violin?” he demanded to know. I was taken aback. “In my country they have such a crrrying instrument, the kemangeh. You can really crrry on it. Can you crrry on that?” I assured him that I could, would, and have cried on the violin. The driver must have realized as we stood facing one another by the still-open trunk of his taxi that a winner in the crying contest would never be decided this way. Suddenly he opened his mouth wide and began a vocal imitation of his native instrument, accompanied by the flailing arm movements of a kemangeh player. If you believe the taxi driver, and I do, the kemangeh and its relatives may have been crying for millennia.
The afternoon sunlight gradually moved across the library’s walls and my book’s cast of musical instruments marched in a slow processional toward the birth of the violin. There were the instruments of my anxiety dream, the three- and six-string Welsh crwths, dating as far back as the ninth century, and the pearshaped rebec from Arabia. The musicians in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Hugh Rebeck, Simon Catling (Catgut), and James Soundpost, were undoubtedly rebec players. Then came the Arabian rabab, the Gothic fidula or fiddle, and the French vielle, followed by the enormously successful family of fretted viols that appeared in Europe only a few years before the violin. They had the appearance of small, mischievous animals that could be kept in line only by the bows that played on them.
The Italian Renaissance inspired a flurry of new ideas and experiments in all fields, but especially in the arts. Large-scale musical events now took place in the open air, creating a need for a louder bowed instrument with a soprano voice. Makers of lutes, a fretted plucked instrument whose body was in the shape of a pear cut lengthwise, must have contributed significantly to the violin’s genesis. To this day violinmakers are called luthiers—literally, lute makers. Did the experimentation going on in each instrument maker’s shop gradually, inevitably lead up to the violin? Or was there one person who rose above the title of craftsman—an artist with the vision to collect these countless experiments and consolidate them into a vision of aesthetic and tonal perfection? None other than Leonardo da Vinci had an inventor’s interest in wind instruments. Some have claimed he played the violin. The thought that he might have been the violin’s creator is tantalizing. Nonetheless, the violin’s origin around 1530 remains obscure, and candidates for the honor of having made the first are many.
The violin was a dramatic improvement over its distant relatives. It had significant new features: the curvature of both top and back to spread the sound vibrations, and openings in the top in the shape of an f. The instrument’s proportions were wonderfully balanced. Unlike its cousins the viola, the cello, and the double bass, which came in a variety of successful sizes, any slight alteration in the violin’s dimensions caused a marked change in the quality and fullness of its sound. I had assumed self-centeredly that the violin’s fixed measurements were a thoughtful gesture to performers, allowing us to switch easily from one instrument to another. But no less a master than Stradivari, who experimented briefly with a “long” model, soon realized its drawbacks and returned to a more traditional measurement.
The violin caught on quickly. It is known that in about 1555, the French court imported a dance band of Italian violinists, and in 1573, when Catherine de Médicis put on an elaborate affair in which sixteen of the most beautiful ladies and young girls represented the sixteen provinces of France, “the music was the most melodious one had ever seen and the ballet was accompanied by some thirty violins playing very pleasantly a warlike tune,” wrote an observer. About the same time, Andrea Amati was already making violins of such quality in Cremona, Italy, that he was able to found a family dynasty, and Cremona quickly became a center of violinmaking, where the greatest makers of all time, Antonio Stradivari and Joseph Guarneri del Gesu, soon thrived.
According to Anthony Wood, a seventeenth-century Oxford University historian, musicians who played viols, the refined fretted instruments of the court, looked down their noses at this brash newcomer called the violin. Wood wrote that “the gentlemen in private meetings I frequented played three, four, and five parts with viols, a treble viol, tenor viol, countertenor and bass, and they esteemed a violin to be an instrument only belonging to a common fiddler, and could not endure that it should come among them for fear of making their meeting to be vain and fiddling.” The two competitors, one aristocrat, one commoner, managed to exist uneasily side by side for more than a century until the violin’s power, versatility, brilliance, and singing nature turned the viol into an endangered species. In 1640, G. B. Doni summed up the instrument’s power succinctly: “In the hand of a skillful player, the violin represents the sweetness of the lute, the suavity of the viol, the majesty of the harp, the force of the trumpet, the vivacity of the fife, the sadness of the flute, the pathetic quality of the cornet; as if every variety, as in the great edifice of the organ, is heard with marvelous artifice.” The violin’s story struck me as downright Darwinian. Call it survival of the fittest. Just substitute rebecs, crwths, viols, and fiddles for apes, Neanderthal man, and Lucy. And the parallel goes further. Darwin was a strict adherent of the ancient motto Natura non facit saltum—Nature does not make big leaps. He believed that ancestors and descendants must be connected by “infinitely numerous transitional links” forming “the finest graduated steps.” But fossil records show few indications of gradual change, just as there is very little to link the lute and viol makers inhabiting fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy with the first recorded violinmakers. Paleontologists are still arguing over whether new species only seem to appear suddenly because fossil records are so scant, an argument easily applied to the violin’s breathtaking arrival in a near-finished state.
Much of what I read that day in the library will probably make no lasting impression on me. I am a violinist, not a historian. What difference does it make that either Gaspard Tieffenbrucker or Gasparo da Salo might have made the first violin around 1530? What remains indelible is the miracle of this little box with four strings that emerged from the ferment of the Renaissance. The violin has essentially remained the same since its origins almost five hundred years ago. It has seventy parts, seventy-two if top and bottom plates are each made from two pieces of wood. Each of its separate parts is indispensable.
We will probably never know the violin’s exact birthdate or whether the honor of first maker should be awarded to Gaspard Tieffenbrucker, but his portrait and a verse were supposedly found in one of his instruments: “I lived in the woods, until I was slain by the relentless axe. Whilst I was alive I was silent, but in death my melody is exquisite.” I leaned back in my chair in the library to ponder this sentimental nugget. My own violin was made from a tree that was probably felled over one hundred years before it was crafted into an instrument. The melodies I play on it probably come out of a three-hundred- year-old piece of wood. If any living thing has claim on immortality, it would be that tree.
My reverie was broken by the realization that I had a student violin recital to hear. I hurried back to the music building feeling a little better. In just an hour’s reading, I had exorcised most of my postdream ghosts. Still, in the hope that dreams are sometimes something more than a dubious fringe benefit of sleep, I did not want to forget this one. Dreams are not reality, yet they must have some significance. Mine had just sent me to the library. But what might the dream offer other than a dry history lesson? Was it my guidance counselor, spiritual adviser, psychic, Greek chorus, bridge to the subconscious, deliverer of unvarnished truths, doomsday seeker, frivolous entertainer? Or was it merely a purveyor of nonsense? I tried to match my dream with this menu. “Unvarnished truth” rang true. When I thought about the Chaconne, the unvarnished truth was that Bach’s intricacies had yet to be solved. Copyright © 2006 by Arnold Steinhardt. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1. SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST 1 2. PHOTO GALLERY 15 3. THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP 31 4. VIOLIN 101 47 5. MISCHA, JASCHA, TOSCHA, SASCHA 60 6. MUSIC SCHOOL 88 7. I, VIOLINIST 116 8. A FLYING LEAP 143 9. THE DATING GAME 151 10. TRUE LOVE 171 11. CHACONNE 184 12. A MOST HEAVENLY MUSIC 200 13. THE DANCE OF LIFE AND DEATH 208 14. DANCE FEVER 218 15. CREMONA 232 16. A CONCERT HALL FOR THE GODS 249 EPILOGUE 254

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)