04 December 2006

Science Solves Mystery of the Stradivari

One of the most enduring muscial mysteries is solved! Mostly, anyway:

Answering a question that has lingered for centuries, a team of scientists has proved that chemicals used to treat the wood used in Stradivarius and Guarneri violins are the reasons for the distinct sound produced by the world-famous instruments.

The conclusions... have confirmed 30 years of work into the subject by Joseph Nagyvary, professor emeritus of biochemistry at Texas A&M University, who was the first to theorize that chemicals – not necessarily the wood – created the unique sound of the two violins.

Nagyvary, a native of Hungary who learned to play the violin by using an instrument that once belonged to Albert Einstein, has wondered for years how Stradivari, who could barely read and had no scientific training, could have produced instruments with such a pristine sound.

“I started researching this in the early 1970s and from the beginning, I was convinced that the chemicals used to treat the instruments were the real key, not the wood itself,” he says.

“I was criticized and ridiculed when I made these claims, and to have undeniable scientific proof that I was correct is very satisfying, to say the least.”

Pretty cool, but not as cool as when it was still a mystery.


Anonymous said...

There was a show on PBS the showed how the sound was focused to the post at the sound board.
They spent time with calipers showing how this was done. And then the reasearcher made one in a similar way proving the fact.

Playing violin since 1970

WestEnder said...

Interesting. Do you remember which show (Nova, Secrets of the Dead, etc)?