Sometimes My Violin Gets Grouchy
Midori Goto is an internationally-renowned violinist and philanthropist. Born in Osaka, Japan, Midori began studying violin with her mother at a very young age, and made her debut with the New York Philharmonic at the age of 11. Her violin is the 1734 Guarnerius del Gesu "ex-Huberman," which is on lifetime loan to her from the Hayashibara Foundation. Since 1992, Midori has balanced touring and performing with humanitarian work. She has founded four community engagement organizations—Midori & Friends, Partners in Performance, Orchestra Residencies Program, and Music Sharing—and in 2007 she was named a U.N. Messenger of Peace. She currently lives in Los Angeles.
Question: What does the violin mean to you?
Midoro Goto: What a violin is for me, it's one of my voices. It's one of the voices that express my thoughts, my feelings, my understandings of different things and different matters. It tries to communicate different messages, different ideas, different discoveries, different beliefs, different interpretations, many different things. Violin is really for me, a voice.
Question: What is special about your violin?
Midoro Goto: My violin was made in 1734. It's made by Guarnerius del Gesu, one of the two most notable makers of the instrument, of the violin. And I've had it for a little over ten years now. It's Italian, it's made like a Stradivarius violin or other Guarnerius violins, made in Cremona, in Italy. And it's difficult to say, you know, what's the violin and what's me, because it's a combination that really makes it very unique. Another player playing the exact same violin would sound very differently. I might play another instrument, not the one that I have, but might be something else, and I would still sound like me, also. But it's really a combination and also, I do think that the violin is a living being. First, it's extremely sensitive to humidity and to heat, temperature changes. It's very, very capricious, it's very temperamental, it's, it gets grouchy, it gets, you know, into a good mood and takes regular maintenance, that's like going to a violin doctor. But I actually love this instrument and it just feels, it just feels like that this is the partner that I want and am very, very grateful for having access to such a great instrument. It doesn't matter who plays on it, it is a great instrument, but it's something about this particular great instrument that I'm just so attracted to it and I think it's a lot to do with chemistry as well, it's not something, you know, that one can say as, "Well, if you put this element into this violin then this person is going to like it better," as, I think, just a combination of known and unknown things that make it very, very special.
Question: Do you consider the violin an extension of yourself?
Midoro Goto: I consider it a partner. I don't think of it as an extension of myself, and people like to think that, you know, well, a violin could be like a part of your body or a part of you, I think it's a wonderful partner. I do give it that little distance that it's, something, with a bit objective.
Recorded July 9, 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller
Midori Goto treats her priceless 276-year-old violin like a partner rather than an extension of herself.
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