Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Red Violin at the Nantucket Community Music Center

Glen Weimer was kind enough to get me in to sketch the presentation of the Red Violin at the Nantucket Community Music Center. “The Red Violin” and the “Red Mendelssohn” are the two nicknames given to the violin built in 1720 by Antonio Stradivari and painted by Stradivari with a distinct red varnish that remains intact on the violin to this day. The Red Violin Movie shows Antonio using his wife's blood to add color to the varnish after her sudden death during child birth.

For more than 200 years, the whereabouts of the violin were unknown, until it reappeared in the possession of an heir of the composer Felix Mendelssohn in 1930. In 1990 the Pitcairn family purchased the violin at a Christie’s auction for $1.7 million, setting a new record at the time for Stradivarius violins.

Elizabeth Pitcairn was 16 years old and had been playing violin for 13 years when her family bought her the Red Mendelssohn. For the past 26 years Pitcairn has honed her technique on the violin and, in doing so, has developed a complex relationship with the instrument “I’m not sure where I stop and the violin begins,” Pitcairn said.

I of course hoped to sketch the Elizabeth playing the violin but she only talked while holding the instrument delicately. She would be performing on on July 17th at the Nantucket Hotel but unfortunately I would be flying back to Orlando that same day and would miss the opportunity to hear the instrument in action. Instead I heard chatter as I sketched furiously. The goal of Red Violin Weekend was to raise money to provide more scholarships for island music students.


Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at analogartistdigitalworld@gmail.com

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