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31 - A Journey Into Sound

Prior to the once-in-a-lifetime Encounter with Stradivari concert {LINK TO THAT ARTICLE}, a discussion was held at the Helmut List Halle in Graz, Austria, to discuss the phenomenon of these instruments. Attempting to unravel the mystery behind the master instrument maker, concert hall acoustic specialist Kerlheinz Müller, AVL CEO Helmut List and cellist Danjulo Ishizaka brought expertise from their differing specialist fields to bear on the topic.

Mathis Huber, director of the styriarte festival, moderated the forum, which was initiated and presented by the AVL Cultural Foundation.

Questions such as “how does the age of a hundred-year-old Stradivari influence its sound?”; “what secret is responsible for the phenomenon of Stradivari?”; and “which factors benefitted Stradivari and influenced the success of his instruments?” were all discussed by the attendees.

Having heard Danjulo Ishizaka discussing his first experience of playing a Stradivari cello, Lord Aylesford (all Stradivari’s instruments have names), which was loaned to him by the Nippon Foundation, Karlheinz Müller concluded that the instruments are “like racehorses”. In order to tame these difficult and delicate instruments, and to achieve their very best performance, the musician must be like the very best horse rider, highly skilled, intuitively connected to the instrument and it’s nuances in order to get the best sound and not be thrown off by its particular idiosyncrasies.

Appreciating the technical skill and craftsmanship that goes into making an instrument of such pedigree, Helmut List brought forward his own engineering expertise, contemplating how he might go about building such an instrument with modern technology. One of the most profound insights from the event was: man is the measure of all things. That means that such a work of art can only be made by, and appreciated by, the subjective mind of a human listener.

This led on to the overriding theme of the discussion, that the realization of subjective experiences and emotions can be triggered in both art and technology. And that success can be measured in the emotional reaction of the audience.

The Helmut List Halle event – Encounter With Stradivari – that followed the discussion acted as testament to that statement.

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