Tributes to János Starker, 40 years of the Arditti Quartet and a beautifully decorated bow are among this month's features

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April 2014 issue

The legendary cellist and teacher János Starkerdied last April at the age of 88. Friends and former students, including Gary Hoffman, Emilio Colón, Alice Schoenfeld and Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, remember their fondest memories of the great man, his teaching methods and their experiences with him. As Steven Isserlis recalls: 'Time spent with him was time enjoyed and savoured; his warmth enveloped his friends even as he tried in vain to portray himself as a hardened cynic. (He didn't fool anybody!)'

We also investigate an elaborately decorated bow from c.1700, which some believe could have come from Stradivarius's workshop. Once owned by Charles IV of Spain, an accomplished violinist, the bow is almost completely covered in tiles of red, yellow, black and white wood. For centuries it has evaded serious analysis – until now.

Elsewhere, the Arditti Quartet talks about 40 years at the cutting edge of contemporary music, recalling dealings with the likes of Xenakis, Ferneyhough and Stockhausen – whose Helicopter Quartet came about after first violinist Irvine Arditti asked him to consider writing a quartet for them. Neville Marriner, who turns 90 on 15 April, discusses his lengthy career, including his time as principal second violinist in the London Symphony Orchestra in the 1950s.

Plus, violinist Viktoria Mullova discusses the musical styles, places and activities that have been an inspiration to her; UK fiddler Sam Sweeney gives a Masterclass on performing English folk tunes; and we investigate what plans for a near-total ban on the commercial ivory trade could mean for bow makers.

There's also a detailed appraisal of a 1791 violin by German luthier Aegidius Klotz, violist Philip Dukes details his daily practice regime, violin tutor Simon Fischer gives a guide to playing perfect intervals, and we ask whether British parents and students are in danger of overstating the importance of passing music exams.

In the April 2014 issue