The New Yorker recently reported on cello virtuoso Matt Haimovitz’s rare, multimillion-dollar cello that was critically damaged in an accident. When Haimovitz took it for repair, he discovered that its 300-year-old insides were collapsing. It took months of careful reconstruction to restore it.

(As we were reading the remarkable story, we stumbled on Romanian artist Adrian Borda’s images taken inside a cello and other stringed instruments. It is as though he discovered a magical hidden world that echoed that of Haimovitz’s cello, with remarkable synchronicity.)

Haimovitz, who had played the cello for thirty years, likened his cello to an intimate friend around which he has to wrap himself while playing; he calls it Matteo after Matteo Goffriller, the 17th-century Venetian luthier who built it.

For thirty years, it goes everywhere with me, and then, so suddenly, not to have it around?

Adrian Borda

When Haimowitz went to play the fully-restored cello, he found that the qualities of the old Matteo were not immediately apparent in the new one…

Adrian Borda

He was advised that playing it was the key. The newly rebuilt cello needed to be played, to have music resonate through the wood to help it give forth the kind of sound it once had, just as Haimovitz needed to feel its new properties and his way to the old sound. They both needed to find their way, as though tuning to each other…

While playing, he said, he couldn’t help thinking about the old Matteo. “There were moments where it was, like, I’m missing certain things, where’s that?” But then something changed. “Gradually, the vibration felt the same.”

“It’s a process,” he said. 

Adrian Borda

It reminded us that so often when the things we are used to and adore change, it’s frightening to suddenly not find that which we loved, and face the possibility that it might be gone forever. But often with patience and time and feeling our way, that original essence can come to resonate again, in league with something new…

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2 replies on “A Wounded Cello’s Lesson in Navigating Change in Things We Love

  1. What a beautiful article(!).
    Great music.

    What a beautiful article.
    Thank you.

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