Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Music, when soft voices die, Vibrates in the memory

by Aussiegirl

And music lifted up the listening spirit
Until it walked, exempt from mortal care,
Godlike, o'er the clear billows of sweet sound;

Sweet sounds, oh, beautiful music, do not cease!
Reject me not into the world again.
With you alone is excellence and peace,
Mankind made plausible, his purpose plain.

I've begun this post with three of my favorite music quotations (the first two by Shelley, the third by Edna St. Vincent Millay), to introduce a fascinating article, about efforts to reproduce the sound of the legendary Stradivari violins, that was sent to me by one of my valued correspondents, Pianogirl. In this current world of dangerous rage, it's good to be able to forget for a little while, and read about, and think about, and then listen to, music, which, in addition to spiritually transporting us mere mortals to a higher realm, can often be just a great balm. (By the way, I was astounded to learn that at least 650 of Stradivari's violins survive.)

Swedes Go High-Tech to Crack Stradivari Code

Paganini had two of them. Heifetz owned "Dolphin," perhaps the best of the best. Itzhak Perlman bought "Soil" from Yehudi Menuhin for $1.25 million, and probably got a bargain. Christie's sold "Lady Tennant" at public auction last year for $2 million, and private owners have gotten more than twice as much in closed deals.

Nearly 270 years after his death, the genius of violin-maker Antonio Stradivari shines brightly as ever. So elegant do his violins sound, so easily do they play and so beautiful are they to behold that most of the 650 or so that survive are famous enough to have their own names


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