Decoding The Stradivarius

March 24, 1998

Can a modern era violin be chemically treated to sound nearly as perfect as an 18th century Italian classic? Come listen and decide for yourself!

The secret of success about 17th and 18th century Italian violin artisans -- long a puzzle to music aficionados -- is the unique chemistry of the materials they used in their instruments. Texas A&M biochemistry professor and amateur violin maker Dr. Joseph Nagyvary will discuss and demonstrate his findings on this topic at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, in Dallas March 31.

For years, Nagyvary has been examining samples of wood from string instruments made by northern Italian craftsmen of the 17th and 18th centuries, including cellos made by Antonio Stradivari. He has determined that a key factor in the vibrant tonal quality of the instruments made by Stradivari and others is wood soaked in brine. Based on his findings, Nagyvary has made several chemically treated violin,s and claims their tone is difficult to distinguish from many of the excellent instruments crafted by the early Italian masters. He cites compliments he has received from several international concert violinists, including Elizabeth Matesky and Zina Schiff, who have performed using Nagyvary violins and have given high marks to the instruments.

During the Dallas meeting, Cleveland concert violinist and musical prodigy Edith Hines, age 15, will give a special recital comparing the Nagyvary violin with a classic 1750 Italian violin.

WHAT: Talk entitled "Decoding the Stradivarius: the Materials, the Sound and the Mystique," accompanied by a musical recital comparing 18th century and 20th century violins

WHO: Dr. Joseph Nagyvary - Professor of Biochemistry
Texas A&M University, College Station
Edith Emily Hines - Student, Young Artist Program
The Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland, OH

WHEN: Tuesday, March 31, 1998
2:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: Dallas Convention Center
Exposition Hall D&E
ACS Membership Division Booth 846

American Chemical Society

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