April 01, 2010
Recently, I have been talking with musicians backstage, and learning more and more about the history of their instruments and their bows. It struck me that many of these instruments have great stories – some historical and amazing, some just fun and friendly. I wanted to share some of these stories with you, our readers. Here you go:
I play an Antonius Gragnani violin that was made in 1786. It was bought by a wonderful lady in Canada, Ms. Margaret Newall, whom I first met when I was about to start my undergraduate studies in the United States, in Bloomington. She became my sponsor and helped me through my studies, which continued on to The Juilliard School. I am happy to say that over the years we have become friends, and she attended my wedding last year.
I had a Goffriller violin on loan (used to belong to Edouard Lalo) while I was at Juilliard, and when I graduated I had to return it which was, of course, extremely hard. A few years later, Ms. Newall bought the Gragnani violin and has very generously let me play it. I cannot imaging where I would be without her help, support and friendship.
David Shostac, principal flute “How I got my first flute”
When I was in the second grade, the teacher (who was also the orchestra director) announced that there were two trombones available to rent. I asked my parents, who stalled long enough for the ‘bones to be picked up by two of my friends. Then one day they visited the teacher privately, and when they came out of the room I found out that I was to play the flute. Quite a jump.
My father was a professional violinist and my mother a pianist who taught the children of several celebrities; when I was 4, they gave me a violin to try and right away I started to play so they took it away before there was another violinist in the house— then my mother tried to teach me piano, which ended when I removed several ivories from the keys. I could always play tunes on toy whistles, plus my father had a friend who was a former principal flutist with the L.A. Phil. So I guess flute was the natural choice, plus it wasn’t as loud as a trombone or violin (at least that’s what they thought).