They’re expensive! As is most everything else we do, for a very good reason. But that’s all the more reason for violins to be more affordable! I’d argue that a viola should not cost a billion dollars, not even more!
If a violin made at a certain price is a bargain for an orchestra, one can safely assume that one will be able to buy one for the same price. That is a strong signal for the price to keep changing. We may make a similar assumption when we ask how many hours the average violin player will play, what the standard deviation of the playing time is and other such issues…
I was reading through the score sheet of the first movement from a very old performance of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 23, and noted that, according to the score sheet, this was the first time of day that the soloists appeared. Not only is this very interesting, but it is also interesting to note that if that is the case, the orchestra must have played several hours more. If this is the case, the score sheet would show that the singers must have been quite tired…
That might actually happen, so long as the average playing time is known; but how often is this known and when is it known? The average playing time is usually one’s best guess; but sometimes the audience can help a bit.
If you are interested in hearing a recording of a concert that took place in 1891 and it shows that the audience had no trouble hearing the soloists; you are probably in the right neighborhood 😉
The last interesting question is how much of a discount price, in dollars, should an orchestra pay for a quality viola. I have found it to be fairly easy to find a good price for a good instrument (in theory, anyway), but in practice it is a bit more difficult. As I understand it, a bargain viola is a one time only deal and usually comes with a warranty, no question about that! An antique instrument with some cosmetic problems can be very expensive. There is however still a chance that, at some point in the coming decade (and it could be much sooner, if the price is still competitive) there may really be a great bargain.
As for a violin made at a bargain price, it may not be much longer before the next big orchestra makes it.
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