The Ashmolean Museum played host to one of the most important exhibitions of Stradivari’s work of modern times from 13 June to 11 August 2013. I was delighted to be invited as a speaker in the accompanying lecture series, an opportunity to give a talk on the Medici commission of 1690, the musical influences of Giuseppe Torelli, and how those help to explain a change in thinking about the violin that set Stradivari on course for his fabled success.
I also had the nerve wracking task of giving guided tours to visitors over the duration. The tours for the Galpin Society, American Musical Instrument Society and CIMCIM – the international community of museum conservators for musical instruments were the easy ones. Watching out to see which world-class authority was wandering by on the normal days was one of the most nerve wracking experiences in my time of public speaking. Ouch!