Famous 17th and 18th century Stradivarius violins are thought to sound better than new ones, but two recent studies say otherwise!
Throughout the classical music world, it’s known that Stradivarius violins, made by the Stradivarius family in the 17th and 18th centuries, sound better than contemporary ones.
Researcher Claudia Fritz of Sorbonne University took on the challenge of proving this to be a misconception in a study that was published in 2012.
She had professional violinists blindly pick their favorite violins out of six choices, half of which were new and half were classics worth millions of dollars.
“Many people were convinced that as soon as you play an old violin, you can feel that it’s old, it has been played a lot, and it has a special sound quality,” Fritz said.
But the results said something different. Newer violins were picked more often than the “Strads” as the better instruments!
There were problems that main defenders of Stradivarius were quick to point out, though. Fritz didn’t try to justify herself. Instead, she took their comments as constructive criticism and redid her study with all the right conditions.
This time she used ten of the top solo violinists in the world, seven of which play old Italian violins, and set the study in a concert hall. The result? Once again, top violinists were surprised that they picked newer violins more often than older ones.
It isn’t Fritz’s goal to prove old violins useless, though. “Strads are amazing instruments. They have survived 300 years and are beautifully made," says Fritz.“I don’t want to destroy the Strads but I want to show that their amazing properties aren’t unique. You can find them in new violins as well.”