Texas musician hugs 17th-century violin throughout freeze to keep wood from cracking
22 February 2021, 15:13
When temperatures inside his Texas home dropped below 10 degrees Celsius, a music professor swaddled his 330-year-old violin in blankets and cuddled it warm.
Last week, millions in Texas were left without power, heat and running water following a severe winter storm, that has cost at least 30 lives in the United States.
With temperatures dropping as low as -20C outside, many have been left shivering in their homes, including violinist and music teacher Aaron Boyd.
Boyd, who is director of chamber music at Southern Methodist University, saw temperatures fall to four degrees Celsius in his Plano home during the outages, and feared that his 17th-century violin would crack in the dry air.
So, Boyd was forced to get creative. Swaddling the Venetian instrument in blankets, he popped it beneath his sheets at night and used his body heat to keep the wood warm. The beautiful instrument, crafted by Venetian luthier Matteo Goffriller, was at risk of serious damage in last week’s severe weather conditions.
“I treat this violin as if it were a living creature,” Boyd told The Dallas Morning News on Friday.
When Boyd laid eyes on the instrument in New York City 10 years ago, he says “it was love at first sight”.
He told Fox4News: “I’ve been using this beautiful violin for 10 years and it’s one I searched for my whole life.”
Boyd added that to keep it warm during the icy storms, he put it in the bed between him and his son.
In freezing temperatures, dry air around a violin can suck moisture out of the wood and cause it to contract.
To prevent the 330-year-old instrument being damaged, Boyd slept with it for three nights in a row.
“Once it’s cracked, you have to have it fixed – and it’s never quite the same afterwards,” he said.
Goffriller is generally considered the founder of the Venetian school of violin making. A contemporary of revered string maker Antonio Stradivari, he had a profound influence on other great 18th-century luthiers, including Giuseppe Guarneri.
His violins and cellos are played by some of today’s most exciting musicians, including British violinist Jennifer Pike.