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This edition: The Art of Violin, Pt. 1: "The Devil's Instrument"

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Episode Details

First aired: August 18, 2012.

A documentary film by Bruno Monsaingeon devoted to the 20th century's greatest violinists, performing some of the most recognizable pieces in the classical cannon. Included is footage of such masters as Joseph Szigeti, Yehudi Menhuin, David Oïstrakh, Fritz Kreisler, Ginette Neveu, Mischa Elman, Arthur Grumiaux, Jasha Heifetz, , Zino Francescatti, Jacques Thibaud, Nathan Milstein, and Isaac Stern.

We see and hear these legendary figures of the history of the violin thanks to a miraculously retrieved treasure-trove of images: David Oïstrakh in the cadenza of the Concerto for Violin No. 1 by Shostakovich, Ginette Neveu in the Poème by Chausson, and an Oïstrakh-Menuhin duo of Bach. Fascinating chapters on child prodigies and their often tragic fate, on the legendary Stradivarius and Guarnerius and on Paganini and composer violinists.

Itzhak Perlman, Ida Haendel, Ivry Gitlis and the young Hilary Hahn comment these images and, based on their experiences, shed light in an attempt to elucidate the mystery of why these geniuses are geniuses. The few clues they give us lift a corner of the veil on this mystery.