The Strad’s editor Emma Baker introduces the January 2024 issue

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The ‘Boissier, Sarasate’ Stradivari was in the possession of of Spanish virtuoso Pablo Sarasate for 20 years, but since his death in 1908, due to a stipulation in the musician’s will, it has been kept in a perfect state of preservation in the collection of Madrid’s Royal Conservatory of Music and hardly ever played.

While it might seem a little sad that an instrument that was designed to sing in the hands of its owner has fallen silent, its pristine condition has opened up a remarkable opportunity for luthiers to study the secrets of a violin that retains many of its original features from when it was made in 1713. In our cover story on page 26, Roberto Jardón Rico traces the history of the instrument; and on page 34, George Stoppani offers an in-depth analysis of the violin’s acoustics.

These days it is just as usual to celebrate the achievements of female musicians and makers as those of their male counterparts. But this was not always the case, and that’s why it is so important to remember the pioneering women musicians of the past. On page 44, in the first of a two-part series, Tully Potter traces the history of all-female string quartets, many of which flourished and found fame at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, despite the restrictions on women’s music education and careers at the time.

We also celebrate another influential female string player, the American virtuoso violinist Maud Powell, and her crucial role in championing Sibelius’s Violin Concerto in the US when it was new. On page 52, Karen A. Shaffer, president of the Maud Powell Society, tells the story of the great friendship between the violinist and the composer, and Powell’s efforts to get the concerto into concert halls, despite an initially puzzled and even frosty reception from some critics.

And finally, it just remains for me to wish all our readers a very prosperous and peaceful start to 2024, on behalf of the whole team at The Strad.

Emma Baker editor

Email me at or tweet @TheStradMag