Violin… The word brings such vivid images to my mind. A slender and graceful soloist performing on stage, her eyes closed in delirious ecstasy. The mysterious, dark, gaunt figure of Paganini, his long thin fingers racing up and down the fingerboard with demonic, preternatural speed. Tartini reclining in bed while handing the violin to the devil himself. Sherlock Holmes playing a tune in his small flat at 221b Baker Street.
The sound of the violin stirs different emotions deep within my soul: sublimity, sweetness, passion, sadness, fear. Sibelius’s concerto is dark and mysterious; Beethoven’s is spiritual and noble; Brahms’s is earthly and passionate; Tchaikovsky’s is grand and dramatic.
It’s curious how, unlike other instruments, the violin seems to possess a dark, sinister quality. Surely no other instrument in history has been the “victim” of such lore and legend. The violin is light and darkness. It has two faces, two personas. That is what makes it so intriguing.
At the same time, it is associated with the feminine. I’m not referring to the shape and sound of the violin, but to the feelings it evokes in its owner. I’ve read that male violinists see the violin as a female companion, while women see it as an extension of themselves.
Another thing I’ve come to realize is that most people have intense emotions about the violin – they either love it or hate it. Interestingly enough, for someone who hasn’t an affinity for music, the violin can be the most horrific, tortuous instrument to listen to.
I was a late starter. I began taking violin lessons in my mid-thirties. Just as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde woke up one day and decided to become a lawyer, I woke up one day and decided I wanted to play the violin. For somebody like me, who had never had any kind of musical education, it was a great challenge. Four years later, I can only say I don’t know how I could have lived without my violin for so long. A wonderful new dimension has opened in my life. Enveloped in music, surrounded by études and books, I wallow in the daily practice of this magnificent instrument, this marvel of ingenuity.
But, most strangely of all, this new dimension has extended to my writing as well. The violin has stirred my imagination and unleashed my creativity in ways I never experienced before. A little orphan girl who wishes to become a violinist begs me to write her Christmas story; amateur teenage violinists whisper in my ear that they wish to be the protagonists of my new mystery; a fragile, mentally unbalanced young violinist shares with me her horror tale, assuring me that her story would make a bestseller…
Always near my computer, my violin beckons me to hold it when I’m stuck in a scene or passage, as if only one embrace, one stroke, is enough to lift the dark cloud from my mind. And always in the background is the violin’s music, my muse and inspiration. I hope this gift will continue to be bestowed upon me for many years to come.