This fine stringed instrument has formed the backbone of the Western orchestra for more than 300 years. The unparalleled artistry, musicality, and old-world heritage of the violin has been a matter of legend. There have been celebrated makers and players. The music has inspired great composers of the baroque, classical, and romantic periods as well as the 20th century. The violin is the most popular of the stringed instruments played with a bow. It evolved from the instruments of antiquity, but did not begin to take its modern shape until the middle of the 16th century. It became one of the most popular instrumets for boys to learn, at least until recent times. The prevalence of 19th century drawings and photographic portraits atest to the number of boys that learned the violin. I'm not sure just how boys dressed to practicde, but generally they would wear their best suits for performances. I'm also not sure how the clothing styles and popularity of the violin varied by country, but home to develp such information.
The violin is the most popular of the stringed instruments played with a bow. It evolved from the instruments of antiquity, but did not begin to take its modern shape until the middle of the 16th century.
We see more boys phoyographed with violins during the late-19th cenntury. We think riding economic affluence is a major fctor. A good example is Carl Perice, an American boy in the 1880s.
The violin became one of the most popular instrumets for boys to learn, at least until recent times. The prevalence of 19th century drawings and photographic portraits atest to the number of boys that learned the violin. I'm not sure just why the violin was so popular.
Most of the portraits we note of childten with violins are boys. This was yhe case during the 19th abd early-20yh cntury. After World war II we see more girls with violins.
I'm not sure just how boys dressed to practice, but generally they would wear their best suits for performances.
I'm also not sure how the clothing styles and popularity of the violin varied by country, but home to develop such information.
HBC readers have commented on the available images.
One reader comments if the coronet on the table suggests that the boy is a musical prodigy, capable of playing several instruments. Another reader asks, "I was wondering whether the photo occurred in a studio and the brass instrument was a prop? Also, notice that the boy is wearing ornamental buttons on his shorts and very short hair. I almost think it is a first haircut. Of course, this is just speculation."
HBC provides the following assessment of reader comments on this interesting French image.
Instruments: HBC has no details on this child. We are inclined to think, however, that it is not a unrelated studio prop. The sparceness of the background suggests to HBC that this is a studio portrait, as does the oval print. It is possible that the studio had a few musical instruments for props, but it is more likely that the boy's parent brought the coronet and placed it in the portrait to indicate that the boy could play two instruments. He may have come from a musical family, but HBC has no indication that he was a noted prodigy.
Kneepants: One HBC reader commented about the ornamental buttons on the boy's pants. In fact these buttons are one of the destinguishing characteristics of 19th century kneepants, differentiating them from 20th century short pants. Kneepants were worn beginning after the mid-19th century through the 1910s when short pants became more common. Kneepanys were still seen in the early 1920s, but had largely disappeared by about 1925. These buttons were an ornamental device inherited from 18th century knee breeches. Boys photographed with musical instruments generally wore kneepants through the 1900s. By the 1910s pants style became more varied and images with knickers, short pants, and long pants exist.
Sailor suits: The sailor suit was still a very popular very outfit for boys in the early 20th century. France was one of many Continental countries where sailor suits were commonly wore. In the early 20th century, most boys of this age would have worn kneepants sailor suits.
Hair cut: Music prodigies, even prodigies older than this boy, were often photographed wearing long hair. Most boys even in the late 19th century wore short hair. By the early 20th century, short hair had become popular for boys, especialyy in Continental countries like France and Belgium and even more so in Germany and Russia where boys might even have their heads shaved. HBC does not believe that the shortness of the hair suggests a first hair cut. It is true, however, that in 1910, wehen this portrait was probably taken, that boys of tyhis age might still have long hair.
The age at which a child should begin learning a musical instrument has been discussed for some time. Often this meant that, except for a small number of child
prodigies, about 10 years of age. A now famed Japnese Music teacher, Shinichi Suzuki, reasoned that a child should be able to learn a musical instrument by four
years of age or less. He noted how young children can easily master the intricacies of speech or using chopsticks and concluded that they could also bergin to learn
musical instruments. The resulting Suzuki Method revolutionized the teaching of music in Japan, America, and other countries. The greatest attention was placed on learning the violin.
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