Watch how this violinist handles a broken string during a symphony solo

Originally published at: Watch how this violinist handles a broken string during a symphony solo | Boing Boing


Ahhh Tchaikovsky! And what a save with some help from his fellow orchestrists.


i like how everyone traded up down the line. figuring out who’s violin was who’s afterwards must have been interesting: oh, yes. ive always owned a stradivarius. it looks like yours? oh my, what a coincidence.


Soloist trades with concertmaster; concertmaster trades with second violins lead; second violins lead trades with lower second violins?
[insert SRV guitar swap video here]


Can they not just look at the blockchain or


A consummate professional!


Paganini could have done it on three strings.


That is great teamwork.


I’ve seen this happen in a concert. It was very impressive and almost smoother than this video. Equally impressive was the concertmaster who restrung the soloist’s violin, retuned it, and then passed it back within about 30 seconds.


Like yourself, I find that every violin looks the same, but I suspect things are different for the pros.


Famous clip of BB King changing a string while still singing during the song.


This is pretty much standard operating procedure for a guest violin soloist. Violin is the smallest string instrument and the strings are smaller and tighter than other string instruments, so they are most likely to break.

Also a soloist is likely to be playing loudly (having to be heard over the rest of the orchestra) an hence putting the most pressure on the strings, again leading to a higher chance of string breaking.

Breaking strings mid-performance isn’t that uncommon (you can find plenty of examples on youtube), and so the concertmaster is always ready to hand over their violin if needed. Occasionally even the 2nd violin has to be ready to do the same as well, as happened to violin prodigy Midori one time.


He would have picked the Leader of the orchestra for his swapsies as they would also have a great violin. The leader would have to grab one straight away as they are also particularly important.

You could lose one of the lesser fiddles and the likes of me would never even notice.

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Wasn’t it Paganini who used to deliberately play with frayed strings in order to show off how he could play when they broke? Either way, I’ve seen enough true professionals, even street performers, break a string and just keep on playing to view this as less virtuosity and more a sign of not actually being a master of their instrument. Of course, given the complexity of the remainder of the solo and the virtuosity required I can quite forgive the switch and applaud what is thereafter a truly magnificent performance.


I was going to reference this, i can’t quite recall but i remember another musician talking about them watching BB King replace a string on a guitar during another performance in a small venue and making it look easy.

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Supposedly, Paganini would fray them deliberately so that they would break and he could show off. This was way before YouTube. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:


This is the rule of how it’s done. In a performance without a soloist, a concertmaster could do the same if they broke a string. It very rarely happens but it’s in the same rule book as the concertmaster taking over should the conductor suddenly be out of commission. There are lots of little conventions in the world of orchestral playing.

As a somewhat lousy violinist who often ended up at the back, I was very aware of this rule because I had to have a set of strings with me. When the violin reaches the last desk you either change the string there or carry it off and change the string.


Generally all the players will have instruments of somewhat similar quality. He didn’t pick the concertmaster for his instrument; that’s just the rule of how it’s done.


The other take away from this performance was the mask wearing. I’ve heard anti mask wearers say they need to see a persons face to know their expressions. You could absolutely see their expressions with zero trouble knowing their emotions.