Carlo Antonio Taneggia

| November 22, 2011

I went to a performance at the English National Opera last weekend. Above the safety curtain, and part of the permanent structure of the place, is a large sign which says COLISEVM. And it set me to thinking about the use of V instead of U. Stradivari, famously, did it the opposite way round: the […]

Viola sizes, in fact sizes in general

| October 18, 2011

Somebody recently asked me for a 5/8 size violin – which I don’t possess – and it set me to thinking about the sizeist bullying that many players are subject to. There really shouldn’t be any hard and fast rules about sizes. Play what’s comfortable and you’ll play better. I know of a professional violinist […]

CT Scan

| August 16, 2011

This is a high-tech treat. What you’re looking at is a CT scan of a violin by Nicolo Gagliano, circa 1750. I sold it recently, but not before it had been given the most careful condition report imaginable. There was a little squiggly mark in the lower back, and internally there was a large patch […]


| July 5, 2011

Here are a few quirky things. The first is a poster for one of Paganini’s concerts in London. It’s fascinating on various levels. Paganini was a superstar by 1832, and his concerts were invariably sold out. Such was his skill that it was said he was in league with the devil – and some of […]

William Charles Retford

| April 13, 2011

I’ve just got some fascinating bows for sale. Principal among them is a beautiful silver-mounted violin bow by the legendary William Charles Retford. It has a really good octagonal stick, and weighs 62 grams. It is accompanied by no less than thirteen letters by him to the original buyer, a Mr. Atkinson, who was an […]

London Sales Spring 2011

| March 11, 2011

I spent the first three days of this week in London. There were five violin auctions there within that period, and I managed to view three of them. I suppose I could have managed all five, but it’s quite tiring. I should add that I had visited Sotheby’s and Bonham’s two weeks earlier to examine […]

Concerts coming up this summer

| January 7, 2011

This is the time of year when our concerts get organised. As explained in an earlier blog, I am forbidden to advertise specific events outside membership of the “Rode Chamber Music Club” and therefore I cannot give the dates here. I am allowed, though, to advertise the benefits of joining the club, and so I […]

The Entire New and Compleat Tutor for the Violin

| December 2, 2010

This lovely thing, published by John Preston, was found inside an 18th Century violin case containing a violin labelled Preston and two baroque bows, neither of which was stamped and both of which were broken. That excellent book The British Violin notes that John Barton made instruments for Preston, and indeed the violin was inscribed […]


| November 4, 2010

One of the violins in my stock has a certificate of authenticity from a previous dealer. “We certify . . .” it begins (note the royal we) that the violin sold by us (there’s that plural again) on the Third day of December, Nineteen Hundred and Ninety-Nine . . .” and so it continues. It’s […]

Sleeve Notes

| September 26, 2010

I recently purchased a Chandos CD – the Gerald Finzi violin and cello concertos. It’s a fine coupling of two works by the same composer recorded at different times. The more recent recording, made in 1999, is of Tasmin Little playing the violin concerto. It’s been highly reviewed elsewhere, but I was interested, of course, […]