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Letter: Remembering Robert Lundberg

Letter: Remembering Robert Lundberg

by Clive Titmuss

Originally published in American Lutherie #71, 2002

Dear Jonathon:

I has been several weeks since Historical Lute Construction by Robert Lundberg arrived. I wanted to really absorb it before showering you with well-deserved praise for your great work of lutherie documentation. I have read the whole book several times. It’s a great work.

Bob built my two lutes during his early period, while I was a student in Basel, a time which also saw the beginnings of my attempts at lutherie. I once played my Bach suite program with Susan at Reed College in Portland, partly arranged by Bob’s first wife Ellen. One of the works I played that day was my own Tombeau for Glenn Gould, a piece for lute and harpsichord. Bob liked that, I remember. We had borrowed a Flemish double by Byron Will for Susan to play, and he and Byron seemed to get a real charge out of a couple of very determined musicians trying to play in a cafeteria full of hungry students on a Sunday evening, with the smell of frying fish heavy in the air. The 300 or so students were perfectly behaved, as they listened to a French Suite, Prelude Fugue and Allegro, the Chromatic Fantasy, and works by Weiss and Hagen, played on some of the best early instruments made by American crafters. But they seemed not to notice, as if this were normal, or perhaps such a smoothly executed event that it was no more to them than a violin and piano recital. Bob was happy to hear his own lute played in such demanding circumstances. My last memory of Bob is of his kindness, his gentleness, and his understanding of my struggle with the hardest music anyone could ever write for a lute.

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