Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bruch's Violin Concerto. How to NOT Make Money on a Mega Hit

By Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins,
 and Joe Peterson

The Bruch Violin Concerto in g minor is one of the finest concertos in the violin repertoire - it's been performed by nearly every major soloist since its premiere...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Voller Brothers Violins. Copies, Fakes, or Frauds?

By Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins
 & Joe Peterson

Working in a violin shop, we get a lot of phone calls about violins labeled "Antonius Stradivarius".  (How many? Two or three each day!) Excited voices on the other end of the line will haltingly read the label out loud and tell us they just found it an attic, basement, closet, old barn, or under the bed. A lot of these are not-so-well-done factory instruments coming from Saxony and Eastern Europe. An expert can look at these violins and tell what it is before blinking. But some copies are so good they can fool most, if not all, of the "experts"!

Voller Brothers copy of the 1691 'Red Cross Knight' Stradivarius

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hot Enough For Ya? The Life of Stephane Grappelli and "Hot Jazz"

by Joe Peterson, violinist, sales associate at Fein Violins

There is a common misconception that violinists have to start playing at age 6 or younger to get anywhere. Nope. Not true. We have a guy who bought a cello from us, and he started playing at age 70. But unfortunately, people like him aren't the ones all over YouTube. Many aspiring young violinists get discouraged after seeing wunderkind perform; maybe they have tiger parents, maybe they are geniuses (genii?), or maybe they have just a few more years under their collective diaper. Regardless, hope should never be lost! Stephane Grappelli, one of the greatest jazz violinists of all time, was not about that young life. He first picked up a violin at age 12, and his earliest teachers were the mean streets of Paris! By this I mean he was largely self-taught; he'd go and listen to various buskers and copy what he liked.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Joachim and Brahms - It was a love hate sort of thing

By Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins
and Joe Peterson

If you were best friends with Brahms, you might hold onto that relationship through all the ups and downs of life. Not so for violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim. A rift between them lasted for years. And it was only a double concerto that could heal the rift.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ginette Neveu, and the Tour that Never Happened

by Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins
 and Joseph Peterson

Ginette Neveu, noted for her power, intensity, and impeccable sonority, was one of the best violinists of the early twentieth century. To put things in perspective, she beat the 27 year old David Oistrakh at the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition when she was only 15. (Coincidentally, that was the same year that Ida Haendel placed 8th at age 7!)

Ginette Neveu was born on August 11, 1919 in Paris, France, and she began taking lessons from her mother at the age of 5. Only two years later,

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Why Violins Aren't Viol

by Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins,
 and Joe Peterson

At a glance, violin family and viol family instruments are very similar. They are both made of wood, both are played by bowing the strings, and both names share the same first four letters. But do not let that fool you! There are plenty of factors that separate violins from viols.

The head of a tenor viol, made circa 1693 by G. Karpp

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Choosing Strings to Improve Your Sound

by Diane Houser, professional violinist/violist and private teacher, 
Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins  

There are so many strings on the market and each type of string has its own characteristics, which can dramatically alter your instrument's responsiveness, volume, playability and overall tone quality.  Since every instrument is unique and will respond differently to different strings, experimentation is key, but how do you choose? Where do you start?

 Your playing style can make a difference, as strings that are suitable for a bluegrass fiddler may not be suitable for a classical violinist.

There is a lot of confusion about strings, since there are no universal gauge or tension standards for manufacturers to follow, so let's clear up some of the mystery and take the fear out of experimenting with strings by explaining some basic terms. Hopefully this will allow you to make confident and informed string choices which will improve the sound of your instrument.

A 'Dominant' Violin D String under the microscope.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Wolf Gang - 40 years to life

by Joe Peterson of Fein Violins

Why couldn't Mozart find his teacher? Because he was Hayd-n. Acclaimed for their seamless ensemble playing and their sensitive interpretations, the Amadeus Quartet is one of the most highly regarded and well-known string quartets in recorded history. They received many honors, including the Order of the British Empire, honorary doctorates from the universities of Caracas, London, and York, and, the highest of all German awards, the Grand Cross of Merit. They also recorded a lot of Mozart and Haydn.

The Amadeus String Quartet

Three out of four members of the Amadeus Quartet, Norbert Brainin, Siegmund Nissel, and Peter Schidlof (all violinists) met in a

Monday, February 3, 2014

Super Siblings: The other Vuillaume

by Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins
 and Joe Peterson

Nicolas Francois Vuillaume

With all of the news about Olympic super-siblings lately (there's 15 competing in Sochi 2014), we thought it would be interesting to take a look at Nicolas Francois Vuillaume, the younger brother of luthier, bow maker and dealer extraordinaire Jean Baptiste Vuillaume.

While searching for an instrument of the highest quality for the lowest amount of money, we rarely think to check out the siblings of the great makers. For instance, we all know about the maker who worked with Paganini and Sarasate, Jean Baptiste Vuillaume, "the French Stradivarius," but how many of us have heard about his brother Nicholas Francois?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Lipinski Stradivarius Violin- A Devil of an Instrument

By Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins
and Violinist Joe Peterson

Let's say you're a great violinist in the early 1700s. The repertoire is getting old and is really holding you back (typical). So what do you do to make a huge leap in musicality? You could jot some notes down as you're noodling around on your fiddle or.... you could go to sleep and wait for the Devil to come visit you.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Ida Haendel, A Century (Almost!) of Violin

by Andy Fein and Joe Peterson

Very few people have a playing life that encompasses the first Wienawski competition (1935) to the present day. Ida (pronounced Eedah) Haendel is one of the few. I wonder what she eats for breakfast? Playing recitals, solos and winning competitions since 1935, Ida is valued as a teacher and player with a treasure trove of musical experience.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Sister Act, Circa 1850

By Andy Fein, luthier at Fein Violins
 and Joe Peterson

We often think of the great violin virtuosos of the nineteenth century as being all male. That's far from the truth! There were great female violinists then as much as there are today. We bring you the life of the Milanollo sisters. Great violinists of the late nineteenth century.