Lev’s Violin: A Story of Music, Culture and Italian Adventure

Pegasus. Apr. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9781643137209. $27.95. MUSIC
Does the history and provenance of an object offer any insight into its nature, or the nature of human interaction with it? Attlee’s answer seems to be … maybe. While listening to a concert in a small Welsh town, the author was struck by the sound of the titular violin, a centuries-old Italian instrument named for its original Russian owner. Attlee (The Land Where Lemons Grow) then embarked on a quest to discover the violin’s origins. Her vividly detailed tour of violin making and selling, particularly in 17th-century Cremona, Italy, leverages her long-standing affection for and knowledge of Italy. Attlee revisits every aspect of violin making: the alpine spruce tree trunks, rolling down rivers, that provide the wood for the instruments; luthier workshops redolent of wood and varnish; and museum collections full of silenced antique violins. She explores the instrument’s mystique, its pride of place in European music, and its appeal to musicians and collectors worldwide. The author’s lengthy travels, however, seem unnecessary, as she gets most of her answers from luthiers and dendrochronologists. Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating and beautifully told journey.
VERDICT Lyrical and exquisitely detailed. For listeners and players of violin music and readers interested in the history of things.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing