Saturday, October 6, 2012

Thanks for the Music Birthday Party for 150 Year Old Fiddle

"Thanks for the Music," says the program. Rowan Teasdale opens with a waltz set, followed by a jig set. Then she fiddles across Canada with French, Vocal, Wandering Celtic, and Western sets. We clap our hands, stomp our feet, and I even get up and sing along.

Rowan, who is Arwen's fiddle teacher, has invited us to celebrate her fiddle's 150th birthday. In the program she shares her fiddle's story, but she admits there are huge gaps in the history. Makes me think that this fiddle is like many newcomer Canadians. We usually know the country from which we've come, but we don't always know the details about our arrival and the opportunities that followed. I wonder if this is why many newcomers know so little about the treaties which opened the doors to so many.

Here's what Rowan wrote about her fiddle:

From Munich to Manitoba by Rowan Teasdale

Five years ago, on a typically windy, winter day in Winnipeg, I happened to duck into a hole-in-the-wall music shop called Dog Sled Music.  On the wall by the window were half a dozen shiny Chinese made violins and one somewhat banged up old fiddle.  Not eager to face the bracing December winds again, I asked if I could give the old fiddle a try, and fell in love with its sweet tone.  I walked out of that shop an hour later thinking about the well worn violin, but certain I was not in the market for another instrument.

Three weeks later, I returned to the shop and was immensely relieved to find the old fiddle still hanging in the window.  I bought it on the spot.  Since then, my fiddle has become a welcome companion wherever I have the chance to make music. 

I only know a small piece of my violin’s history, the most distant part.  It was made in the workshop of Georg Tiefenbrunner in Munich in 1862.  Tiefenbrunner grew up in the small town of Mittenwald in Bavaria, one of the two most prolific violin making towns in Germany for many years.  Its heyday had been a hundred years prior, but the tradition of instrument making had continued in the many family run workshops.  The instruments they made weren’t spectacular, but they were good, reliable instruments.

From the time my violin left its maker’s workshop until it found its way into my hands, I know nothing.  I don’t know how it came to make the journey across the Atlantic and across the country.  I’m certain it wasn’t an easy one.  It has dints and dings, cracks and repairs, but at 150 years old, I think it can be forgiven its blemishes.  Each has a story, I’m certain, even if I’ll probably never know them.

However this fiddle came to be in that shop on that day, I’m glad.

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