I was researching for another story when I tripped upon my next book. I choose stories “by whisper”. I was asked how I come up with the ideas for my books recently, I said, I don’t, they just come to me, like a whispering voice in my head, then…I just write them down.
My favorite luthier was in the shop this weekend. He is my favorite because he is full of stories. I asked him what type of wood violins were made of.
“They are made of spruce and maple. They are aged 30, 60, 80 years in some cases, the wood is very old.” At least, real fiddles are very old.”
I was entranced. I’ve always loved violins. Their sound is like home, it soothes me, and I can actually feel the vibration of the sound in my body, synthethesia. I didn’t realize for the longest time that most people don’t feel what I feel when I hear music. It’s like being touched, physically. I get tingles all over.
I didn’t grow up in a musical family, but I have music in my blood a couple of generations back. There were Irish fiddle players on my Mom’s side. It seems my Great Great Grandfather’s violin paid for Great Grandmother’s tuition to school. A very sad story, her parents died (I think of the flu) and she raised in a convent till age 15. Her father’s violin, which apparently was of a fine quality paid for the tuition. The nuns put the violin behind glass in the hallway on display and my Great Grandmother had to walk by it every day. I can’t imagine how much that must have hurt her as she was reminded of her father and her family’s fiddle now belonged to someone else. That’s another story to be told.
My visits to our local luthier to size up Anna’s violin are always exciting for me. Anna get’s a new violin, and I get some of the most romantic stories I have ever heard. Violins are terribly romantic instruments. Yesterday’s tale was of the luthiers of Saxony.
As I said earlier, the wood used to make a violin is aged sometimes up to 80 years before it is crafted into a violin. Which means, the wood is sourced by the father with the intention that his son will be making the violin. The wood is the family inheritance.
Violins made in Saxony are well known for their high quality due to this generational gift.
During WWII, the German army came through this area and needed wood for their fires, they found it already pre cut for them in the luthier’s workshops, confiscated them and burned them. In order to preserve what they could, the families begun hiding the wood. They would boil huge vats of beeswax and dip the wood in the beeswax, then bury it in ginny sack clothes in the woods. Some of this fine wood was saved, but thousands of pieces were lost to the army’s camp fires.
The horror of watching your families inheritance, expertly chosen and sourced wood hand selected by your father to become a beautiful fiddle that would span centuries….stolen and burned before your eyes. I cried on the way home after I heard the story. It’s heartbreaking.
Images came to my mind of the violence of family watching their generational workshops being raided, the wood and the violins being taken and thrown in a common camp fire, destroying art with thoughtlessness.
And was it all thoughtless?
What freezing German soldier, maybe one who was a musician himself, one who watched his father play the fiddle at Christmas, desperate to keep warm, watch a fiddle flame up and burn, and cry.
What happened to these men, their trade, how did they survive the heartbreak? How did they make it through? This insanity we know as war.
Tell our story….said the whisper….