Arnold Steinhardt, Violin Dreams, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006
Like the hundreds of other people who had gathered at Saint Pius V Church for Dan Horkheimer’s funeral last August, I was moving between despair and disbelief in trying to assimilate the fact of his murder. As I walked into the church, I saw at a distance a familiar face—Cece Weinkauff, who was playing violin before the Mass. Eleven and a half years earlier when she was 14, Cece played Massenet’s Meditation at Mev’s funeral in Saint Francis Xavier College Church.
A few weeks later, she and I visited at Kayak’s on Skinker. She enthusiastically recommended Arnold Steinhardt, Violin Dreams, which I promptly ordered and read. It’s a captivating memoir detailing his quest for the perfect violin, his journey to becoming a world-class violinist, and his routines and rituals, such as carrying photos of the greats in his violin case to remind him of the nobility of his calling (like Heifetz). There’s so much in the book he doesn’t address, as it evidently isn’t relevant to his dream life, his real life, that is, his immersion in violins, their power, pedigrees, “personalities,” and magic. Read the rest of this entry »