It is my sad duty to report the passing of our good friend John Connolly Jr. this past weekend. Although the average string player may not have known his name, we all owe Mr. Connolly a debt of gratitude. He was a man whose strategic vision, ingenuity, business acumen, and commitment to excellence changed the world of bowed strings. And he was not above being kind and helpful to me when I opened my shop in 1983.
He founded the Connolly Music Company in 1969 and soon after approached the Thomastik-Infeld company about distributing their products in the U.S. They had just developed the world’s first synthetic-core string called Dominant.
This little, upstart brand received mixed reviews when first introduced and John Connolly took a significant risk in backing this revolutionary change. He convinced two young Juilliard graduates to endorse the Dominant string, Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zuckerman. A few years ago Mr. Perlman told me "When I found the A string wouldn't squeak in the Tschaikovsky Concerto, I was sold."
You can see John Connolly remembering the early days in this interview: https://www.namm.org/library/oral-history/john-connolly
Connolly Music, now owned by John's son Jake, is one of the last music companies left on Long Island, which once hosted many instrument importers and distributors. We are grateful for their continued commitment to our local community and the world of strings.
Rest in peace, and rise in glory, John Connolly.
It's possible you have encountered bow bugs before without knowing it. The most obvious sign of a bow bug infestation is if you have a bow that seems to have lost a bunch of its hair all at once or the hair is falling off in clumps. That's because the bow bugs have been happily munching away at it. You might even see some of the hair sticking out of the case.
Claude Debussy was born in France in 1862. He began piano lessons at the age of seven. His talents were evident early on, and began studies at the Paris Conservatoire when he was only ten years old. There he studied composition, music history, music theory, harmony, piano, organ, and solfege for eleven years.
Rental season is upon us and the crew is busy working on a large shipment of rental instruments that just arrived today. There are many steps involved in getting each instrument ready to be rented.
Each violin must be carefully inspected and strung using top notch strings. The nut grooves have to be checked, filed and lubricated as needed. The pegs and fine tuners have to be lubricated. The sound posts have to be set to achieve optimal tone quality and labels have to be put inside each instrument.
In addition all of the bows have to be inspected and well rosined.
When we think of our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, the first person who comes to mind is usually Francis Scott Key. The lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner were taken from a poem written by Key entitled, “Defense of Fort McHenry.” We rarely, however, talk about John Stafford Smith, the man who was responsible for writing the music to the anthem.
Smith was a British composer and organist and has also been referred to as the first English musicologist. He was an avid collector of rare manuscripts and was one of the first serious collectors of manuscripts written by J.S. Bach.
The melody from the Star Spangled Banner was actually from a song that was originally written by Smith in 1775 for the Anacreontic Society of London, a prominent men’s social club of that time. The tune was entitled “To Anacreon in Heaven” and contained different lyrics at that time. Francis Scott Key originally chose the tune to accompany a poem he had written in 1805 called “When the Warrior Returns from the Battle Afar.” He later adapted the melody to his poem “Defense of Fort McHenry” which he had been inspired to write while watching the attack on Fort Henry by a British Fleet in 1914. The new adaptation, entitled the Star Spangled Banner, became the official national anthem of America on March 3rd, 1931.