Saturday, May 03, 2014

Norweigian Wood

Speaking of violins,  when I was 9 years old a teacher, who was trying to get youngsters interested in taking music in school visited my 4th grade class and played a couple of bars of the William Tell Overture (the Lone Ranger's theme song). That's all it took.
I fell in love! 
Judy Anderson and Ed

I went on to study the violin for 10

years. I would still be playing, except for the fact that the violin is jealous lover. She demands strict loyalty and faithfulness. (Two or three hours of practice a day play well.)

For me there were too many flashy distractions; broadcasting being the one I finally settled down with.

About the 7th or 8th grade, my teacher, Mr. Michael Wise advised my parents that I had progressed as far as I could go on my "learning violin" and offered his advice if they decided to make the investment. 

Only the strings (and bridge) missing
 It took a while, but he called my Dad a few months later and said that a woman had called him about a violin she had found in the attic of a deceased relative...which she wanted to sell.

"She's asking a lot of money for it," he said, "but I've examined it and it's worth it."

She was asking $300 for it.

My folks bought it for me.

It was certainly a good sounding instrument as well as a very beautiful work of art.
Peering inside (through one of the "F" holes) the label said it's maker was:

 Knute Reindahl  Chicago  February 22, 1911

 I never knew anything more about it. 

But Knute's baby and I were almost inseparable in the 50's, attending Piedmont, then Central together. Waiting at bus stops for the 6 Elizabeth to come along...often walking home,sometimes in the rain...always carrying "old Knute." 

Ed's Knute Reindahl violin still in perfect shape

It's a wonder that delicate old instrument survived.

It's a wonder I survived.

Piedmont Junior High Orchestra

A Little boy carrying a violin case to school was to other little boys, like waving a red cape in front of a bull...there was something about it that seemed to send a "hit him" or at least call him a "sissy" message to the young male's mind.

That's how Don Nance and I became such good friends. Don weighed close to 200 lbs in the 5th grade and very early on in my musical pursuit, the other boys realized that if they bothered me, they would have to deal with Don. Problem solved. We've been best friends ever since.

At any rate, as I go through the Bat Cave and mark DO NOT LET THE WE HAUL JUNK TRUCK TAKE THIS... label on some of my treasures I decided to see if there was any information on the internet about Old Knute,the man who made my violin way back in 1911.

The first thing that jumped out at me was an ancient Chicago newspaper clipping:

 The well-known Norwegian-American violin maker, Knute Rheindal, is back from a visit to Norway. Mr. Rheindal is known as Chicago's Norwegian Stradivarius, due to the wonderful tonal quality of his handmade violins. The purpose of his trip to Norway was not only to visit the home of his childhood,but to obtain materials for violin making. Doorposts, thresholds, planks; all hundreds of years old stripped from age old buildings and shipped here. 

Oh my!
Stay tuned for PART TWO.....