361-year-old Mysuru violin still has currency

361-year-old Mysuru violin still has currency

Melody maker

The 361-year-old violin in possession of Mysore Manjunath of Mysuru.

Mysore Manjunath of the Mysore brothers duo, who are slated to chair the golden jubilee state-level music festival of the Karnataka Ganakala Parishat from February 1 to 16 in Bengaluru, is in possession of a 361-year-old violin.

Musician R K Padmanabha, a contemporary of Manjunath’s late father S Mahadevappa, is heading the Parishat for the past 15 years.

Manjunath said, “I have a few more violins, some of which are 200 years old. But the one made by Nicolo Amati in 1659 is a treasure. My father procured it through some contacts. After Independence, when Europeans left India, they disposed of most of their belongings here. Somehow, most of the musical instruments reached the Western shores, especially Goa. First, my father played it. Now, myself and my son Sumanth play it”.

“Violins were first made in the early 16th century in Italy. They are likely to have been developed from other string instruments of the 15th and 16th centuries. The overall pattern for the instrument was set in the 17th century by the Luthiers (who build and repair string instruments) like the Amati family, Jakob Stainer of the Tyrol and Antonio Stradivari. Nicolo Amati, the maker of the violin in my possession, belongs to the Amati family,” Manjunath said.

Narrating his fascination for violins, Manjunath said recently, renowned violin maker James Wimmer asked him to try a new violin design with a longer neck, during the Violin Luthier’s Workshop organised by violinist Lalgudi G J R Krishnan in Chennai.

Manjunath said the violin is a wonderful assembly of 70 parts. “But even after assembling that many parts meticulously, there is no guarantee that it will give the desired music. Thus, recently, the workshop was organised by Lalgudi Trust for Indian violin makers. The older the instrument gets the more mature it becomes. Violin is probably the most accepted musical instrument across the world. But it is the toughest to play,” he said.

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