I thought this would be an interesting read, but sadly the style was very dry. The author clearly knew his subject inside out, having produced an exhaustive and scholarly history of violins and violin makers. He cast his beady eye over scroll work, f-holes, bridge, maker’s mark, wood grain and varnish quality. The majority of the book is a compendium of makers in alphabetical order, very useful if you’re in possession of a very old violin you wish to identify, but not exactly a gripping read.
Two characteristics of this book were very striking, at least to me. Firstly, the exclusively male world of violin makers, violin players, violin dealers and even violin appreciation, or at least that’s how it’s presented in the text. Secondly, the extremely cautious nature of the author, who declines to speculate on what ingredients the old masters used in their varnish and doesn’t even say what contemporary makers use. It could be made out of marmalade and shoe polish, for all I know.
Published in 1909 by Schott & Co.
Part of my Project Gutenberg random reads project.