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

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American music as we know it owes so much to just one Russian-born double bassist. This month marks 150 years since the birth of Serge Koussevitzky, and 100 years since he took up the position of chief conductor with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Not content with being ‘just’ a virtuoso soloist and composer, Koussevitzky taught himself conducting and eventually went on to develop Tanglewood into the powerhouse festival it is today, commission some of the cornerstones of 20th-century American repertoire and act as mentor for Copland and Bernstein among others. On page 52 fellow double bassist and conductor Leon Bosch explores the story of a man who seemed to cram several lifetimes of achievement into his 76 years.

And on page 38 Clifford Hall recounts the history of another, almost forgotten string player, British virtuoso violinist Samuel Grimson, who, following an injury to his hands sustained towards the end of World War I, found himself unable to play. Instead he turned his talents to writing a violin method book that paved the way for modern string teaching.

This month our instrumental cover star is the 1733 ‘Salabue, Martzy’ Carlo Bergonzi – one of the Cremonese master’s best-preserved violins, and one that was played by Hungarian soloist Johanna Martzy – who, incidentally, was born 100 years ago this year. On page 24 Jason Price looks at the instrument’s 300-year history, while on page 30 Philip Ihle makes some observations regarding Bergonzi’s construction methods.

Also this issue, on page 32 David Kettle speaks to the Dutch–British violinist Daniel Rowland. This former leader of the Brodsky Quartet now divides his time between solo playing and recording, directing his own Netherlands-based Stiftfestival and leading the relatively new Arethusa Quartet. And on page 46 Joseph Curtin reports on detailed experiments undertaken to discover how altering the height and scoop of the bass-bar can affect the sound of a violin.

Emma Baker editor

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