Posted on

Letter from London

Letter from London

by Theron R. McClure

Originally published in Guild of American Luthiers Newsletter Vol. 3, #5 & 6, 1975



he early music buff finds much to enjoy in wintry England. During the first two weeks of December, 1975, Renaissance and Baroque music concerts were presented nightly at London’s Queen Elizabeth, Purcell, and Wigmore halls. The quality of performance specialists was held to the highest level; the dozen of early performance specialists was held to the highest level; the dozen of early performance specialists had a wonderful skill. In most performances nineteenth century playing mannerisms had been excised: e.g. vibrato was not heard from London violists. But the teaching of Arnold Dolmetsch and his followers were given little heed. In an all-Dowland concert at the Purcell room, only one ornament was heard from the instrumentalists the whole evening.

Early music concerts draw full houses. There is a saying in London, that the old people go to the new music and the young people to the old. But a price has to be paid for this popularity: the larger the audience, the more the viols sound like the celli. Performers can’t keep from straining their instruments toward a commonplace tone.

Become A Member to Continue Reading This Article

This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.
Posted on

The Early and the “Modern” Viol

The Early and the “Modern” Viol

by Theron McClure

Originally published in Guild of American Luthiers Quarterly, Volume 6, #1, 1978



The study of paintings, drawings, and woodcuts of early viols shows us that all the viols made and played today are copied from those made and used during the final seventy-five years of the three century span of viol playing. In those last years, instruments had been modified to cope with the tonal and advanced technical demands made upon viol players: trio-sonatas required performances of the same degree of virtuosity and lushness of tone possessed by the skilled flautist and violinist of the day, the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth centuries.

Become A Member to Continue Reading This Article

This article is part of our premium web content offered to Guild members. To view this and other web articles, join the Guild of American Luthiers. Members also receive 4 annual issues of American Lutherie and get discounts on products. For details, visit the membership page.

If you are already a member, login for access or contact us to setup your account.