Facts About the Violin

Here are some facts about the violin.

  • A violin is a 4 stringed instrument, played by drawing a bow across the strings. It is the most high pitched and smallest of the violin family of instruments.
  • The first violins were constructed in the 16th century and were based on existing string instruments from the Byzantine Empire and the Middle East.

  • An Italian lute maker, Andrea Amati is said to have designed one of the first violins. The first instruments became popular with the nobility as well as with street musicians.
  • Most violins are made from maple or spruce, and are constructed from over 70 pieces of wood. They can range in size from  4 cm (the smallest violin ever made) to the more common length of 62 cm.
  • Stradivarius was one of the most famous violin makers and made about 1,100 instruments. Only about 500 survive today and in 2011 a fine example was sold for almost £10 million.
  • Perhaps the most famous player of a Stradivarius was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes.
  • The 1998 film, the Red Violin is about the search for a Stradivarius violin.
  • Playing the violin can burn about 170 calories per hour. Violinists are also able to use both sides of their brain more effectively than non-players.
  • The violin can be used to play rock, jazz and folk music although it is one of the most important instruments in classical music. Most orchestras have two violin sections, the first and second violins.
  • The bow is usually about 75 cm long and is made from hundreds of horse hairs. The hairs have to be loosened regularly to stop them from becoming damaged, and also rubbed with pine resin.
  • The first electric violin appeared in the 1930s.
  • Some famous violinists include: David Fyodorovich (Russia), Ole Bornemann (Norway), Niccolo Paganini (Italy), Sarah Chang (US), Itzhak Perlman (Israel), Joshua Bell (US) and Maxim Vengerov (Russia).