Thursday 9 June 2011

Why I Stopped Playing my Violin

For all of you awaiting the next episode of "Intrigue", please excuse the delay.
Today I only post something I have written after the Cello-fund raising for Christchurch.
Today I had been by the dentist, had computer problems and a load of telephone calls leaving me no spare time to continue with "Intrigue". So I will need a bit of time to work up the whole load I accumulated today and get back to pleasure ;o)
I will try to have the next episode ready for you next Monday.

The thoughts about Richard Armitage playing the cello brought back the memories of my time playing the violin during my school years. I had some nightmares lately about it, always starting with Richard Armitage images playing the cello. That is the reason, why I mention it here and perhaps, because it might help me to overcome this memory.

I loved to play the violin. It was the second, or better, the third instrument I learned. I started with flute before even being able to read. Learned the piano for years and even wanted to study music once, when I grew up.
So it was recommended, to learn a further instrument.
In my childhood, I had adored my father playing the violin. When he played, the violin lived and sounded with joy. So this instrument was my choice.
My father even bought me a cheap starting violin, where I could easily make my first learning steps.
After a while, when I grew better, he gave me his violin.
What a honour that was for me - his loved and cherished violin.
The only thing, he had from his early childhood years before the war. He had gotten it back years after the war, as a relative hid it with her belongings, when my grandmother and my father had to leave their home and had lost everything they had except the clothes they wore.

What a cherished instrument, my father got it from his admired violin teacher, who had wanted him to become a violinist before all the upheaval of the late war years. He had brought him this violin from a well known and esteemed violin maker in BrĂ¼nn (Brno).

Now, why did I stop, when I loved to play, loved the instrument, the sound, the feel of it?
I now always have tears in my eyes, when I think about this instrument and it makes it hard for me to enjoy it.
I still have the violin, cherish it, for what it is, but I always must think about the following story of treachery and hatefully greedy behaviour.

I played in the school orchestra and had lessons at school with various teachers, as music teachers changed quite a lot during my time at school. I hardly had one longer than one year, mostly changing teacher even between the school years.
One teacher I had for a longer period of time, offered to send all violins of her pupils to a violin maker to repair and optimally care for them. She also recommended mine to be sent in. I hesitated and resisted very long and expressed that this was an especially precious violin to me. If anything should happen, I would make her responsible and can remember, that I made quite a fuss about this otherwise quite normal circumstance. I must have had a sixth sense back then.

When the violin returned, the 'steg' to set the heights of the violin strings, was lowered, which altered the whole feeling of the violin. The string holder had a knack, which some years later I had to replace completely because of that.
But the most important and for me absolutely devastating thing was, that the paper seal, the violin maker had placed inside the violin, had been forcefully removed.
I did not recognize the loss right away, but when I found out two weeks later and requested the name of the violin maker, my teacher refused to tell me and said, the seal must have been weak and have fallen out on its own.
That was not the case as there are even the marks of the forceful removal visible inside the violin.

My father was lovely and tried to console me. He said, it would not alter the violin or what it meant to him. But for me it was, as if I had let him down and had not been able to defend his memory.

Now I always think about this, when I take the violin up and have tears in my eyes.

The only good thing about these nightmares is, that they start with Richard Armitage playing the cello. That really would be something I would like to see in real life. I would even accompany him on the piano. (Purely selfless suggestion ;o)


  1. I have to say that your father is right. Although it was very tragically wrong what the violin suffered, it is only an object and you can remember that the seal was once there. We all suffer loss in one way or another and this is one of yours but hopefully the pleasant part of your dreams can help you realize that. :) I vote that you pick up your violin again and start playing to wash out the bad memories.

  2. I agree with bccmee and your father, but at the same time, I deeply empathise with you. (Also, why fix something that isn't broken?) I would have felt the same way, just knowing how I feel about the changes the people who bought my grandmother's house have made to it. It hurts every time.

  3. @bccmee
    You are so very sweet, bccmee!!!
    And you are absolutely right that I should pick up the violin again and overcome my bad emotions to find back to the pleasant feelings. I think it is, why the nightmares are coming back and what they really want to tell me.
    Perhaps that is also the reason why RA is in them. He plays after years again and that should I.
    I will go home over the weekend and will try to play the violin again. (I think the cats living near our home will not be overly pleased, not to mention our neighbours ;o)

  4. @Traxy
    Thank you Traxy, for your emphathy!!!
    I am so sorry for the house of your grandmother. My father tells me the same with the house of my grandparents they had built with their own hands and had to leave after the war. He says it bodily hurts him to see the changes, the new owners made.
    I feel with you and thank you for consoling me!!!

  5. I can understand that you were hurt by your teacher's dishonesty and disrespect and this stranger's actions. It must have tarnished your trust in this teacher for sure. But I agree with bccmee and traxy - the best way to honour your father and yourself really is to continue to play something you love and forgive those that hurt you. Otherwise, they have a much bigger impact on your life than they should. Music is a gift and if you love it, I say return to it and put this 'nightmare' behind you. And I'm sure you are being modest just like Richard was and that your playing is beautiful. What better weekend to return to your violin than Pfingsten? :D

  6. @calexora
    Thank you very much for your encouragement, calexora. I am at home and currently am caring for the violin and replacing some of the strings. I am not sure if I can make it to real playing this time at home.
    But it is such a joy to go back to it and the resolution alone is very helpful to overcome those old bad feelings. Thank you for helping me on my way !!!

  7. Hi CDoart,
    I can understand your feelings on having something so meaningful violated by ignorant people, and then being distracted by it and forgetting what made the object so important. I hate when things are not perfect. It is like a work of art that some fool has "improved" upon by reworking it. It is not what the artist intended, even though future viewers may never realize anything is wrong with it. You are not wrong to feel that way, but you have dwelt on it long enough, and cannot let it eclipse the real reason the object has such meaning. Its meaning lies partly in its history, and history is nothing if not for people. As long as you are there to tell its story, then it is more valuable than a perfect violin from that same well known maker. It represents your father's love for playing, and his love for you. The rest becomes unimportant!

    With this passion for particular instruments, you might want to check out a poem I wrote about cello playing inspired by Richard's latest message. It can be found on my LJ page here:

    Take care, and play with love!

  8. @dark-jackal32
    Thank you very much for commenting here and for giving me such sweet encouragement.
    Your poem is beautiful and I think you absolutely got the attraction of a violin or cello right. The sensual feeling of the instrument becoming alife in your hands and needing your stroke and touch is beautifully written.
    I cared for my violin this weekend and need to replace more strings as I did not have one I needed at home, before I can play again. But I had the impression, the instrument was dumb and without shine at first and through my touch started to feel appreciated again and started 'smiling'.
    More than by playing piano the strings transmit every slight emotion. Even with piano I always had difficulties listening to felow performers, as I had the impression to feel their fear through their playing.

  9. I can picture your violin 'smiling.' Hope you're still enjoying it. :)

  10. @rafrenzy
    I get home again this weekend, Frenzy, and will care for my violin again. I think she still is a bit sniffled and haughty with me and lets me work a bit harder to get into her favour again. But that is just right. She is a lady and knows what adoration she deserves.