Back in 2001 Harvard@Home and the Alumni College asked Prof. Thomas Kelly to speak to the public about Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, looking into its historical context and its uniqueness among the great works of western music.
The whole lecture is fascinating, but of particular interest to me was a clip from the questions from the audience–a comparison of ‘period’ versus ‘modern’ instruments. Here Kelly covers the structural metamorphosis of the original Stradivari violin into a Stradivari that fits (and can support) a modern style of playing. Moreover, he makes a good case for why it’s good there are people looking back in search of that ‘original’ sound. According to Kelly, the famous ‘Stradivari sound,’ at least in the historical sense, is an abstraction.
Either view the clip below or download ‘The Transformation of the Violin’ as Quicktime Video (right-click and ‘save target as’). If you’d still like to know more after this short clip, the full lecture can be found here.
This video is the property of Harvard@Home and the Alumni College.