Culture is not only food for the soul – Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres
The violin is one of the most famous instruments in our contemporary society. Piano, clarinet, double bass, oboe, guitar, every note of these instruments, even played with genius, does not resemble the violin, which is a potent symbol for the culture of music not only in popular culture in the UK but in other countries as well.
For the majority of people in the UK, music, in general, is an important social link that promotes sharing, exchanges and encounters, in our society. Music is fertile ground for creating culture, as well as for the creation of works of art, whatever they might be, for an audience.
Film, books, inspirational quotes and even famous violinists, here is a little overview of what can be the culture of this beautiful musical instrument. Let’s get started!
Why read books on the violin? Between action movies or romantic comedies, the violin can fit in perfectly, just as it does in books. (Source: Pixabay)
If movies are the third favourite pastime of the UK, music ranks first. And so it makes sense for two of our favourite activities to reunite to form a cultural influence. This is evidenced by the existence of different films, whose main theme and guiding force is music, especially in the case of the violin.
Soloists, symphonic orchestras, Brahms, Mozart, or stringed instruments, the subjects are broad and vast which help to enhance this musical instrument, sometimes played with a bow, sometimes with bowed strings, but then what are the best violin movies, that is the question!
We could cite some fairly famous works, such as The Concert, directed by Mélanie Laurent, putting on screen the Bolshoi orchestra between the Soviet Union and France, where all our senses are awakened, thanks in particular to the violin’s representation. When traditional music such as Berlioz, Schubert or Mozart can enter into resonance with the story.
Chicken with Plums is another film that fits into this category in the story it tells, rooted in Tehran in the 1950s, but also and especially for the evocative power of music that transpires throughout the film. Indeed, the violin is placed not as an accessory, but as an ignitor of action, which defines and influences many situations in the film. Learning the violin in full harmonic symphonic with the film, it’s easy!
Once again, a very wonderful film is that of The Violin Teacher, released in 2015, and of Brazilian origin. The story is full of the relationships and realizations of a virtuoso violinist who finds himself teaching his art and his instrument in a favela in Brazil to some difficult students. Friendships and bonds will be formed between them, thanks to, as you might have guessed, the power of the violin. The film also can be applauded for the skilled performances by the actors.
One could also cite films like The Soloist, The Violin, The Melody, or The Red Violin, which all include the violin as a main or secondary thematic element, as well as a real anchor in the film’s story. Whether it’s a violin, violin concerto, Stradivarius, chamber music, or contemporary music, the violin has a prominent place in the world of cinema, to our greatest enjoyment!
Here are some more movies about the violin.
In the UK, as elsewhere in the world, the violin is an instrument that artists are interested in and inspired by. (Source: Pixabay)
It is obvious that playing the violin is a real art, even beyond being a talent. But it also involves a good deal of work, often daily, to progress, to become a conductor, to give violin lessons, or become part of a national orchestra. Playing the violin can then be equated to a passionate but sometimes discouraging activity, like all technical skills that require hard work.
Thankfully, there are inspirational quotes we can find based on the violin, phrases to motivate you in regaining one’s self-confidence, in one’s talent, and in one’s ability to produce beautiful melodies and harmonies. From Van Beethoven, through to Tchaikovsky and Schumann, it would be rare to find a well-known composer who would not have needed this kind of encouragement. Here is a small selection!
Among the many inspirational quotes on the violin to choose from, one could include that of John Lubbock, who states that Happiness is an art to practice, like the violin. A way of seeing the violin as something that can and is associated with happiness, and practice is the key to achieving it and reaching Nirvana.
We can also talk about Charlie Chaplin, who tells us: Like playing the violin or the piano, thinking requires daily practice. Here, we perceive the violin as an activity that is situated at the same level as thought, in the higher spheres of our brain. In addition, it also indicates that it is necessary to practice regularly, or even every day. Whoever said that playing the violin was easy?
Finally, the violin is perceived here as an almost perfect musical instrument thanks to Helen Keller, who states that If the violin is the most perfect musical instrument, then the Greek is the violin of human thought. We are more interested in the first part, which puts the violin at the forefront, as if it were a fact that the violin is without flaws. Do you agree?
These quotations would not exist if people did not bring them to life in a real way. In the UK, as well as abroad, there are many professional violinists whose jobs also makes them well-known public figures. The price to pay for success!
Between books, quotes, and films, the violin musical instrument proves to be a real star! (Source: Pixabay)
Films have their famous faces, tennis has its idols, and the violin is no exception to the rule, who also has its well-known personalities in its midst, sometimes even known nationally or internationally! Musicians who, in a sonata, in a melodic piece of music, help us to feel we know them and make the violin appear in a more accessible and human light.
Of course, one of the most well-known violinists, at present, is Nicola Benedetti who is the first British solo violinist to reach top 20 of the UK albums charts in two decades, since Vanessa Mae in 1995 and Nigel Kennedy in 1989. The beautiful violinist is also the first ever Scottish classical artist to enter the top 20 of the Offical UK Albums Chart, no small feat! This gifted musician is not only skilled at the violin, but she was also honoured with an MBE for her educational and charity work and was named Britain’s Top 30: The Young Female Power List alongside Emma Watson and Adele.
One who came before her and one of the most well-known and talented violinists in the world is Nigel Kennedy. A boy prodigy, Kennedy was born in Brighton, and at the age of 7 he became a pupil at the Yehudi Menuhin School of Music (and later on a student at the Julliard School in New York). His recording of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons in 1989 sold over 2 million copies and earned the album the title of one of the best-selling classical recordings ever. His latest album was in 2016 and titled My World- the famous musician is still going strong 30 years later.
A notable addition would be Yehudi Menuhin, not of British decent himself but who spent most of his career performing in Britain. This compassionate musician performed for Allied soldiers during WWII and for a number of survivors of concentration camps. Born in 1916 in New York, a violinist and conductor, Yehudi is widely considered one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century and his death in 1999 was a great loss to the musical community.
We can also mention, in a non-exhaustive way, Vanessa-Mae, Andrew Manze, Chloe Hanslip, Eddie Jobson, Edward Elgar… who all knew how to make the violin sing and participated in helping the UK to shine in music. Figures to check out!
Music softens the mores, and the violin is the musical instrument that perfectly illustrates this quote in the culture! (Source: Pixabay)
Some works of culture are more accessible than others. As mentioned earlier among the favourite activities of those in the UK, reading ranks second, just behind the music. If this is the case, of course, it makes sense to link the two together! Well, that’s what happened in many novels, who decided to take the violin as a subject or a backdrop. Here are some must-read violin novels!
The Mozart Season is a young adult book by Virginia Euwer Wolff, who uses the violin to talk about deeper things, such as self-confidence, family and relationships. A 12 yr old violinist is the protagonist of the book and the youngest contestant in the young musician’s competition, who will find herself learning how to find the real music inside her heart.
Based on a true story, The Aushwitz Violin by Maria Angels Anglada is a beautifully written and emotionally evocative novel which tells the story of a Polish violin maker who is forced to make a violin for his Nazi captors.
The Black Violin is a book by Maxence Fermine, who weaves the violin in with themes of friendship and trust. A Venetian virtuoso violinist finds himself living with a rather mysterious violin maker, with whom he will build strong bonds, centred around the violin, the black violin.
The Violinist by Mechtild Borrmann is, similarly about a particular violin, a Stradivarius. A violin dear to the heart of the main character, a talented violinist, who is arrested and detained by the KGB. The beloved violin disappears and is sought after two generations later by the main character’s grandson. The violin acts in this book as a conduit for memory and connection to the past.
Let us also mention The Butterfly and the Violin, The Man with the Violin and The House of Silence, which are other typical examples of what the violin can represent in literature. A subject and a meaningful object in any work of art, such is the power of the violin!