How does a simple piece of wood become a violin, the king of instruments? Watch and find out as Eugene Drucker, a member of the world–renowned Emerson String Quartet, commissions Sam Zygmuntowicz, a Brooklyn craftsman, to make him a new violin. As he tells this extraordinary story, journalist John Marchese shares the rich lore of this beloved instrument and illuminates an art that has barely changed since the Renaissance.
Marchese takes readers from start to finish as Zygmuntowicz builds the violin, from the first selection of the wood, to the cutting of the back and belly, through the carving of the scroll and the fingerboard, to the placement of the sound peg. Though much of the story takes place in the craftsman's museum–like Brooklyn workshop, there are side trips across the river to the rehearsal rooms of Carnegie Hall and Lincoln center, and across the world. Stops on the itinerary include Cremona, Italy, the magical city where Antonio Stradivari (and a few of his contemporaries) achieved a level of violin–making perfection that has endured for centuries, as well as points in France and Germany integral to the history of the violin.
A stunning work of narrative nonfiction that's also a finely crafted, loving homage to the instrument that most closely approximates the human voice.
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A musician and award-winning journalist, John Marchese is the author of Renovations: A Father and Son Rebuild a House and Rediscover Each Other. He lives in New York City and in New York's Catskill Mountain region.Review:
“An impassioned account...shows what magic is secretly being practiced behind many nondescript doors.” (New York Times)
“Marchese is engaging and funny and he uses his substantial skill to tell a story worthy of his subjects.” (Newsweek)
“A deeply descriptiveand appreciative look at a slow, exacting craft. Marchese is a skilled writer.” (USA Today)
“Strikes a high note, with rich overtones on the themes of art, creation, and the power of music. (Entertainment Weekly)
“A beguiling journalistic meditation on the links and tensions between art, craft and connoisseurship.” (Publishers Weekly)
“You don’t have to be a fiddler to enjoy this small gem of a book. A fine, informative read.” (Santa Fe New Mexican)
“Well researched...an appreciation for the ability and dedication of a man working with his hands.” (Hartford Courant)
“An edifying adventure from hewn log to work of art. On pitch reporting documents an inspiring craft.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Honest, witty and dramatic. A thoroughly gripping read.” (The Strad)
“Informative. Insights (into) why classical music’s most analyzed instrument retains so many mysteries. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
“Entertaining...(Marchese) shows a talent for engaging turns of phrase, and his accessible style and dry humor commingle well.” (Library Journal)
“Like The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, THE VIOLIN MAKER is easy, entertaining, and uniquely informative reading. (Booklist)
“A magical, profound and elegant look at the continued need for high quality in our throw away society.” (Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Tulane University and author of THE GREAT DELUGE)
“Engaging...[In] the tradition of John McPhee and Tracy Kidder, John Marchese wittily deconstructs the capacious lore of violin-making.” (Ben Yagoda, author of About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made and When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It: The Parts of Speech, for Better and/or Worse)
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