The violin is the smallest and highest-pitched of the instrument in the string family. It is related to a North African instrument called a rebab (a three-stringed instrument also played with a bow drawn across the strings). Violins have been traditionally used as an accompaniment to singing and dancing. It is also an important classical solo instrument, as well as taking pride of place at the front of orchestras. The violin was early recognized for its singing tone, especially in Italy, its birthplace, where the earliest makers—Gasparo da Salò, Andrea Amati, and Giovanni Paolo Maggini—had settled its average proportions before the end of the 16th century. In the 19th century, with the advent of large auditoriums and the violin virtuoso, the violin underwent its last changes in design. The result was a stronger, more brilliant tone in place of the delicate, intimate tone of the violin of the 18th century. Most major composers from the 18th century on wrote solo music for the violin, among them Mozart, Beethoven, Le chavalier de Saint George, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Edvard Grieg, Paul Hindemith, Arnold Schoenberg, and Alban Berg. Such virtuosos as Francesco Geminiani, Niccolò Paganini, Joseph Joachim, Fritz Kreisler, David Oistrakh, Ida Haendel, Yehudi Menuhin, and Isaac Stern stimulated the composition of fine violin music
Famous Violin Players
The Violin is primarily an orchestral, solo and chamber music instrument, but it is also heard in jazz, folk, rock and pop music as well.
Famous classical violin players include Niccolo Paganini, David Oistrakh, Fritz Kreisler, Guiseppe Tartini, Antonio Vivaldi, and Mischa Elman, Joshua Bell, Midori Goto, and Itzhak Perlman to name just a few.
Early jazz violinists included Eddie South, who played violin with Jimmy Wade’s Dixielanders in Chicago; Stuff Smith; Claude “Fiddler” Williams, who played with Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy. Joe Venuti was best known for his work with guitarist Eddie Lang during the 1920s. Georgie Stoll was a jazz violinist who became an orchestra leader and film music director.