There is a widely held perception, which I address in the May issue of The Strad magazine, that the violin is somehow a ‘Jewish’ instrument.
The simplest answer is portability. Jewish mothers in the
Pale of Settlement did not sit their kids down at the piano. Pianos were too
heavy to take abroad if there was a threat of pogrom. Cellos, likewise. The violin is an instrument of dispersion, a
relic of persecutions and a ticket to a better way of life. It was the Blackberry of musical transmission, the laptop of an imperilled school, the most effective instrument of ensuring that tyrannies could not destroy a tradition.