Every book has the reader as its collaborator - Maurice Barrès

By common agreement, the violin is often placed as one of the favourite instruments of those in the UK. And for good reason, between the double bass, cello, trombone, or clarinet, it is distinguishable by its ability to adapt to many different styles of music, from bossa nova to gipsy jazz, through to a sonata of contemporary music.

Writers, directors, artists and others within the UK culture and that of the world understood this fact well, and took it upon themselves to create books, novels, poetry and short stories about this beautiful musical instrument which one knows so well, and yet sometimes so little. They realized that the jazz violin, the electric violin or even the basic violin are perfect tools and mediums for enhancing fictionalized stories, romantic stories, children's books and more. Here is a small selection of some of the best books written about the violin!

Why highlight the violin in a book?

The violin always stands out in an orchestra
Linking two arts, two cultures is a big job. Literature and music are very good at blending together, and the violin even more so! (Source: Pixabay)

This is a question that must be asked before anything else, notably the relationship between literature, writing, and the wonderful instrument that is the violin. It goes without saying that culture is one of the facets of our broadest society, the most open, where almost everything seems possible and relatable.

The violin and, more generally, music itself, is an ideal medium for staging stories, from the most moving to the most beautiful, through to the most tragic. It is that kind of writing companion that can transport a reader all over the world and serves as a real emotional stimulant, a symbol of intense memories, or even a link between two people, two protagonists.

That's why it has been chosen as the subject matter in many books, from the most romantic to the most historical, and that's what we'll look at right now!

The Black Violin by Maxence Fermine

One of the best books written about a violin
With a few lines, a book can transport us into a completely different universe, one based on music, the violin, feelings and emotions of all kinds! (Source: Wallpaperstock)

The story of the Black Violin takes place in Venice, which at that time was invaded by Napoleonic troops. We follow a talented violinist, whose skills were recognized very early on, and who became wounded while he was part of the French army. Johannes Karelsky (the violinist) finds refuge with a violin maker, who is quite mysterious,  and with whom he will befriend and trust. Their relationship is based on music, including this famous black violin.

Far from the atmosphere of a philharmonic orchestra, scholarly music, a first concert, or the London Conservatory, The Black Violin takes us into a deeply varied world. Aided by concise language, the author proves himself as a teacher and brilliantly tries to make us understand how much music and the violin can be important in the life of a person, even if on the surface, it's just an object.

Sometimes books on the violin give rise to a film adaptation!

The Violonist by Mechtild Borrmann

In 1948, in Moscow, after a very successful concert, the famous violinist Ilja Grenko is arrested, and driven to the headquarters of the KGB, not understanding at all why they have taken him. With his Stradivarius in his hand, he suffers the worst horrors a prisoner can imagine, between interrogations and humiliations, and finally confesses things he did not do, leading him to the Gulag. His dear violin then disappears forever.

Two generations later, Ilja Grenko's grandson goes on a quest for the famous Stradivarius, with which his grandfather had been so happy and successful, and is able to make some dark family discoveries, which Mechtild Borrmann brilliantly writes about. A book on the evocative and sensory force of the violin, far from Schubet, Berlioz, or Schumann.

The Mozart Season by Virginia Euwer Wolff

At what age can you read a book about the violin?

Best-selling teen novels
The violin is a prolific musical instrument in terms of writing and emotions, evocative for both young and old!

The Mozart Season tells the story of Allegra, a 12-year-old girl, who becomes the youngest contestant in the Ernest Bloch Young Musicians Competition.  This staggering news colours Allegra's life from then on, and the transformations she goes through during the summer, in response to a variety of events, are marvellously described by the author.

Indeed, while Rachel Hausfater perfectly describes the feelings of a 12-year-old child learning about herself and her dreams, the violin is put forward in a subtle way and accessible to all. A wonderful book about family, music and the reality of making our dreams come true. A must-read for teens and adults will enjoy it as well.

From these books, you can find quotes on the violin to motivate you.

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

A well-written novel is such a pleasure to read!
Blending the past with the present, the violin and a well-written book, makes for great combinations!

"A mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz-- and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan." Goodreads

The Butterfly and the Violin follows the story of art dealer Sera James, who following a heart-breaking romantic rupture at the altar 2 years before, is now looking for a passionate project to throw herself into. Her mind conjures up the image of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes from a painting she remembers as a child. Her search for the painting leads her to cross paths with Willian Hanover, who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece.

They uncover the story of a talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich in the year 1942, who loses everything on her courageous journey to smuggle Jews out of Vienna. "As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Aushwitz and the inner recesses of her own troubled heart."- Goodreads

A must-read and highly-rated novel!

The House of Silence by Blanca Busquets

This beautiful novel, built as a quartet of voices, focuses and turns around the power of the violin and music in general. Indeed, the story takes place in Berlin, during a concert given in tribute to a  virtuoso musician, who died ten years earlier. The presence of one particular woman puzzles the crowd, as to her presence in the hall and the purpose of her presence. This is where The House of Silence begins.

From there, it is four voices that will emerge during the book, who are tied together through music, including a Steiner violin which mysteriously disappeared, and about which the four characters feel deeply about. A tribute to music, from the most beautiful, most powerful in the world, this book will appeal to both amateurs or professionals, whether you have musical training or no violin lesson to your credit. Finally, a book for everyone!

The Auschwitz Violin by Maria Angels Anglada

In Auschwitz, in 1944, it is here that Maria Angels Anglada decided to stage her novel. A Jewish prisoner, named Daniuel, struggles to survive the shocks, humiliations and hardships he suffers. While helping at a concert, it happens that he reveals himself as a truly talented violin maker, so as to save a friend who is accused of being a fraud. Now, he will have to design a violin whose quality is as worthy as a Stradivarius, from the point of view of its harmonious sound.

Halfway between fiction and reality, The Auschwitz Violin shows that music is often what saves our souls, and can make them softer, more beautiful and more subtle. A melody that takes the reader away, and helps him to understand that if music does not save everything, it can heal many wounds, and bring greater peace to many of us. All it takes is a little sensitivity, humanity, open-mindedness, and voila!

Do we speak of UK violinists in one of these books?

The Man with the Violin by Kathy Stinson

Best children's books
When stories are created around this impressive instrument, it makes a beautifully harmonious story! Source: Parade

This compelling story has a clear message for both young and old and features an inspiring young talent as a role model. The Man with the Violin is based on the true story of an experiment that the virtuoso violinist, Joshua Bell, did in a Washington D.C. subway station in 2007. The story is told in a charming way with language a child would enjoy and beautiful illustrations that will touch all readers hearts. 

A great way to pay tribute to the music and the gifts it gives to us in body, heart and soul.

In short, through culture and the arts, but more specifically literature and books from around the world, we note that the violin is widely represented, to our greatest pleasure. From the short but sweet teenage novel to an elaborate novel full of meaning and depth, we find ourselves in front of a powerful and evocative musical instrument, whose meaning is interlaced in novels with passionate characters. A great way to fill up your at-home library!

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A travel, nature and writing enthusiast, a French to English translator and overall, a wordy-bird.