I’ve heard some people (including the author) say this but in my opinion I don’t think so! In fact I think it’s rather the reverse! In the UK we have some of our best-known musicians, for example, the Stradivarius family would be famous in other countries but they don’t seem to be recognised anywhere in Britain. Their instrument is probably still used in some schools, churches etc while others have banned it. I’ve been told it’s not as well known as it used to be.
I see you have some kind of history with violins, how did you grow up?
I was first introduced to music and then into the violin around 11 years old at a young classical music venue. The place was small and it was in a really old theatre so I didn’t have a lot of choice but when I got my first violin I just began studying and playing. When I first came to Manchester it was on the bus from college to college and so my first violin was a little black instrument with a black lacquer finish. The first time I came to London I played a violin in a club with the school orchestra. Then I joined the club where I played in London and the club moved to Glasgow and eventually I got to play in New Jersey. I then played in London to perform at the BBC, The Royal Shakespeare Company and even played a concert at the Royal Albert Hall. These places are still very important.
But then suddenly my first violin left. It was in Glasgow when I was about 14 and it had the black lacquer finish, so it was really hard to find a place to sell it. That was when I bought my first Stradivarius. It lasted about 6 years before it finally came back from Spain which was a huge deal! It took a long time to get a Stradivarius back and I think it was more just not quite suited to how I played. One of the issues with Stradivarius is that there is a lot of playing it backwards. I thought it would be perfect if I could play it backwards! So we carried on playing it backwards for years and years. It took me to Italy and then in 2010 I got a Stradivarius in the middle of my playing in Germany.
When did you first start learning to play a real Stradivarius?
It was at the age of 16 and I first got interested in music by playing the Stradivarius in concerts at the Royal Albert
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