Monday, October 14, 2013

Music Mondays | The Wartime Violin

Her name is Rose.  I first saw her in the dark stained cabinet at the violin shop in the old part of town.  At first I thought she was too fancy a violin for me, and surely too old and worn.  After all, I had set out to buy a spankin' new violin with the graduation gift from my grandmother.

However, after I tried a few of the violins in the shop my eyes rested again on her beautiful, golden brown varnished curves.  She seemed to be longing to be played.  I asked the gentleman if I could try her out.
"These are antiques," he said, as he unlocked the glass door of the cabinet, "A little more expensive, but worth every bit."  And so I played her.  For a minute.  Then five.  Then ten.  I couldn't compare the rich, rustic sound to any violin I had ever played before.

Long story short, she is now mine.  The only history I have is her era: 1850s/60s, American Civil War.  As typical for a wartime violin, she has some wear... a few cracks and split seams here and there that have been carefully mended.  Someone obviously spent quite a lot of time and care in her making.  The sound of the handmade violins verses the machine assembled is amazing and unmatchable.

Her beautifully smooth scroll.... I love the variation in the varnish's tone.

I like to think about who may have played her over 150 years ago.  Were they skilled?  Were they wealthy, poor?  Was it a soldier, a lady, a grandfather, a child?  Was it played in a wealthy house along a cobblestone street lined with carriages or perhaps it was treasured in a frontier cabin, or a plantation in the South?  

It has lasted the Civil War, WWI, and WWII.  Who's hands did it pass through before now?

I think it is what is unknown about this violin that attached me to it.  It provides more for the imagination.  Who knows who will play it after me.  I will probably end up keeping it with my hope chest for teaching my own children someday.

The inlays are mother of pearl, and we are guessing the design was unfinished wood painted silver, which has dulled to a soft grey over time.


I thought Rose suited her well since two of my favorite Civil War tunes to play are "The Rose of Alabama" and "The Yellow Rose of Texas".  And I was born in Texas, so all the more. ;)


Just an update --  I've decided to begin a new series of posts on the blog for Mondays and Thursdays.  Mondays will be called "Music Mondays" in which I will post anything musical that I have been up to lately, which is usually quite a bit.  Thursdays will be "In the Kitchen Thursdays", where I will share my latest baking/cooking adventures.  I'm really excited about these new series and (hopefully) they will keep me posting a little more often. :)

God bless you all and have a lovely fall afternoon!  Goodness, it's already after 4:00.  I really need to start that carrot soup...


Aspirer said...

So good hear from you again, Elizabeth. :) And that is the most beautiful violin I've ever seen!

God bless <3

Sarah said...


Your new violin is beautiful! What a treasure.


Raechel said...

Rose is gorgeous! I'd love to hear you play :)
There is a guy from our church who makes his own violins; I've seen one only once, but it was beautiful :)

Amy said...

Wow. That is gorgeous! I wish I could hear what it sounds like. Anything with some history connected to it is automatically way cooler. :)

I'm looking forward to your music Mondays and In the kitchen Thursdays! Sounds like fun.

Kiri Liz said...

Congratulations, Elizabeth!! The violin is gorgeous!! And from the Civil War!! Could you imagine the history it must have seen?! That would make a cool story!

I personally don't play the violin, but rather the piano and the flute, but I love hearing the violin played. I don't s'pose I can help that seeing as my sister and two of my cousins play the violin. And it is beautiful.

RaeAnne said...

I didn't know you play--but I'm sure you do so beautifully!

This is an absolutely gorgeous violin, truly a piece of art and history! I envy you for owning such a beautiful piece...though, I admit, I don't play. But this is nearly enough to make me want to do so! :D I'm a sucker for antiques!

Tammantha Ashworth said...

I have the sister to this violin, same design and trim. Mine is not in as good of shape though I am having it restored. It is funny, I call mine Rose too. - Tammantha

Tammantha Ashworth said...

I have the sister to your violin. Mine is not in as good of shape as yours is but I am looking to have it restored. It is funny though, I call mine "Rose" too. -- Tammantha

Mariah // THERE IS: said...

Hello there, just found your blog for the first time and literally gasped when I saw your violin. Holy gorgeous.

I played violin for many years, but stopped after an injury and for various reasons just never picked it back up. We have a family heirloom violin that is not quite like yours, but beautiful in a very simplistic, old-timey way.

I'm sure you'll enjoy your instrument for many, many years to come. She's a beaut!

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