Today in Music History
A Daily Look at Music History For Violin Students
A Look at What Happened on Today's Date
Long, Long Ago . . . Or Maybe Just Last Year
TODAY IS
July 14
Did You Guess?
Can You Guess?
We read about the singer Prince and his song U Got the Look below.  For a while Prince no longer wished to use his name, and changed it in 1993.  Can You Guess wwhat he changed his name to?

Look at the Bottom of the Page for the Answer.
What Else
Happened
Today?
Jacob Stainer was born July 14,  1621.

Many people consider Jacob Stainer the greatest luthier of the 17th Century, and almost nobody would dispute the statement that he was the greatest of the German-speaking violin makers. His instruments' tone caused Leopold Mozart and his contemporaries to prefer the Stainers to their Italian counterparts. Johann Sebastian Bach prized a Stainer violin. The instruments maintained their place of honor well into the 18th Century.  In 1774 George Simon-Lohein in Leipzig wrote that "Stainer's tone is full and soft like a flute" and that he perfered them to the Amatis for solo playing.
1859 - Willy Hess,  German violinist was born in Mannheim, He was successor to Franz Kneisel as concertmaster of the Boston Symphony Orchestra 1904-1910.

1948 - Premiere of Kurt Weill's folk opera Down in the Valley at the University of Indiana in Bloomington, IN.

1949 - Premiere of Benjamin Britten's Spring Symphony at the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

1950 - Birth of American opera composer and guitarist Allan Jaffe.

1961 - Birth of Korean composer Unsuk Chin,  Winner of 2004 Grawemeyer award.

1987 - U Got The Look by Prince was released.

1993 - The U.S. Postal Service released 29-cent stamps that honored four Broadway musicals. The featured scenes were from "My Fair Lady," "Porgy and Bess," "Show Boat" and "Oklahoma!"
Stainer was born in Absam, Austria, into a family of stringed instrument makers.   Some historians claim, that Jakob Stainer spent some time in Cremona , perhaps working with Nicolo Amati, but there is no solid evidence that occurred.

Living in Absam, which is just a short distance from Innsbruck adn the court of Archduke Ferdinand Charles and his court orchestra, there is no doubt that Stainer saw Italian violins. The Archduke's wife was Claudia de Medici, and many of the musicians of his court came from Italy.  They undoubtedly brought along their own instruments.  Some were probably made by Amati.

Stainer began selling his instruments when he was still quite young.  Even as a young man he paid attentioin to details, and that attention resulted in fine instruments with beautiful tones.  Stainer's violins featured a broad lower back.  Their bellies were more highly arched than their backs.  Beautifully carved scrolls were common, and he sometimes replaced the scroll with the carved heads of lions, angels or women.  His varnishes ranged from amber to an orange-red.  On occasion he was know to use more than one color varnish on a single violin.  Their brilliance rivaled those produced in Cremona.   He used hand written labels (as did most luthiers of the day).  They frequently contained spelling mistakes, but they usually read "Jacobus Stainer in Absam prope Oenipontum Fecit." Stainer's instruments became very popular.

There is evidence that Stainer traveled to Salzburg in 1644, where the archives tell us he repaired several instruments.  He was in Munich in 1645, and spent time in Venice in 1648.
Stainer's instruments became the most highly sought-after in Europe until the advent of Antonio Stradivari's violins.  Stradivari built violins that were broader and flatter.  They were capable of a more powerful sound than those of Stainer.  Tastes changed, and Stainer's instruments, although still well-loved, were gradually replaced with Stradivari's. 

Although Stainer produced many instruments, not many have survived.  The majority of these are violins, although there are some examples of violas and cellos.  The
National Music Museum (on the campus of The University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD) owns a tenor viola produced by Stainer.  It is the only one of its kind.

Jacob Stainer died in 1683.
Jacob Stainer
1621-1683
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We then knew him as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince," or "TAFKAP."  He changed his name back to "Prince" in 2000.
Oklahoma
My Fair Lady