Shortly before my 12th birthday I began studying violin with a prestigious teacher in San Diego, CA. She encouraged my parents to invest in a good instrument for me; a full size violin that would enhance the technique that I was learning.
We began visiting violin shops here and there, borrowing different instruments for week long periods so that I could try them out. I distinctly remember one that was very yellow in color; my mother and I nicknamed it The Bee.
Finally, we found one that seemed to be a good match for me. It was made in Europe in 1856 with a beautiful one-piece back (see below). I named him Grantonio (I name my instruments, did I mention that? And did I mention yesterday that the 1700's violin that I perform on is named Frederick? I don't think I did.). We anticipated that this instrument would be sufficient to last me many years, if not forever. It was of fine quality.
[Grantonio, purchased for me by my parents when I was 12. It hangs in my parlor and is in perfect condition; I just borrowed a few strings for Frederick.]
Less than a year later, a colleague of my teacher told her of an instrument that was for sale well below its appraised value. She immediately thought of me and brought it to a lesson so that I could give it a test run. My parents decided that it was too good a deal to pass up, so they purchased this second violin for me and I have been playing it ever since.
As my mother recalls, the previous owner had passed away and his son was the one selling it. Yesterday afternoon I took out a keepsake box where I tuck away my most prized mementos and found a letter that had been sent to my mom after the purchase of the violin. I love where he wrote, you start to own a beloved instrument.
And now I am curious. What might he know of its history? Does he know where his father got it or when?
I have decided to send a letter to the return address on the envelope. I will tell him that his father's beloved instrument has found a happy home with me for the past 16+ years. And I'll ask him to share any further information he might have.
I'll let you know what I find out....