Book Notification

Toby Faber Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Close to the Edge (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Stradivarius : A Tale of Genius, Five Violins and a Cello (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon
Faberge's Eggs: The Extraordinary Story of the Masterpieces That Outlived an Empire (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
Faber Faber: The Untold Story of a Great Publishing House (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Toby Faber
Toby Faber is a non-fiction author best known for his debut novel Stradivarius. While Faber is no musicologist or professional musician, his debut novel makes him come off as an expert in this field. This can be attributed to years of research and a deep love for all things music. The Cambridge born author currently lives with his wife and daughter in London.

Stradivarius tells the story of a talented craftsman with magical hands, the string instruments he made, and the people, famous or otherwise, who hold on to these gems more than 300 years after Stradivari’s death. Why are these instruments still sought after in the 21st century? How comes this talented craftsman has neve been eclipsed? These questions form the basis for this enlightening book. While there are many biographies about Stradivari, Faber looks at this man’s life from six notable instruments. Faber follows the fate of the instruments resulting in an intriguing tale with enough twists along the way. The book also covers the Violin’s history way before Stradivari started his career.

Antonio Stradivari is renowned for his craftsmanship and pursuit of excellence where music is concerned. Today, the Stradivarius violin is known for its quality and price tag is nothing but unbelievable. Throughout the story, the author explores Stradivarius craftmanship and the methods he used to make the instruments that have been passed down generations. What materials did Stradivari use to make his instruments? What process did he follow and how comes no one learnt from him despite him having enough chances to pass his craft to the next generation?

Well, first of all, Antonio Stradivari’s craftmanship was unrivalled, and his obsession with quality and perfection was known by anyone who knew him. Throughout his long successful career in Cremona, Northern Italy, Antonio created over one thousand instruments, and each of these was treated as a masterpiece. Approximately six hundred of these instruments survived. This book traces the multi-layered and rich story of six of these instruments- a cello and five violins- and their journeys in the past few centuries.

In flawless narration, the author highlights each of the six instruments and its journey through the hands of different owners. All of these six instruments have been cherished by artists, and plutocrats and princes have bought and sold them as others only hope to get a chance to play them. Occasionally, a musician as talented as the craftsman has been allowed to play one of the instruments. The author has also given a brief on these musicians highlighting some of the reasons why they stand out.

The author introduces Giuseppe Tartini, the musical genius who possessed the Violin, the Lipinski. Tartini composed the controversial ‘Devil’s Sonata’, a sensational piece inspired by a dream in which the artist gave his soul to the devil and received a supernatural gift. The author also highlights the allegations of fakes and forgeries down the years. Were these allegations true, or was everything just a genuine mistake? Could there be fake Stradivarius out there and their owners have no clue about this?

There is also the intriguing story of Giovanni Viotti who apparently received the Strad that is today named after him from Catherine the Great as a love token. Later in life, Viotti was entrusted by a pupil to keep another Strad. Determined to keep the original to himself, Viotti commissioned John Betts, a cunning craftsman to make a replica of the Strad. Betts sensed the scheme, and instead of doing as he was instructed, he made two fakes instead. Viotti received the two fakes while Betts kept the original Strad. Who made this startling discovery and what happens when the truth was exposed?
Faber blends biography, history, detective work, and his deep love for music in this amazing piece. Mysteries and the unanswered questions music lovers have about this talented craftsman start from the start. For example, what makes Antonio’s work so special considering he was just a simple craftsman? How comes that centuries after his death, no one has been able to match his depth and delicacy where the stringed instruments are concerned? While no one has been able to answer these questions conclusively, Faber surely does make an effort.

Aside from the text, this book comes with interesting images. These include the new old stock Strad that was 300 years old, the instrument with a tiger-stripe back, and the Messiah. The author also includes the alterations that were made to modernize some of these instruments.
If you are a violin player or a cellist, this book will reveal some new facts about this instrument and the people who have moved crowds when playing it. Anyone else interested in the history and evolution of Violin and cellos will find this book helpful. While the six instruments turn into characters with their own unique lives, the author includes information that could be beneficial to professional violinists, violin dealers, especially those interested in the high-end instruments, and luthiers. It is amazing how the separate strings come together, harmoniously into this masterpiece.

It is amazing how the author weaves this into an intriguing book. The 320-page story is so well put together that you will have a hard time putting it down. Faber pitches the story right, and it is clear that he neither intends to baffle or patronize the reader. While the author’s question on the reason for Stradivari’s violin supremacy remains unanswered, It is quite provoking, and his observations are illuminating.

Stradivarius tells the story of the wonder that is Stradivarius and that one Cello. The author highlights the class of these instruments, their history and owners. Want to know the most outstanding violin players of the past? This book offers a sneak peek into their lives, showing how they interacted with their instruments. The author has done a great job to make a story about stringed instruments intriguing even to those who know nothing about these instruments. Everything flows well, and it is clear that Faber has not only done his homework, but he is also very passionate about music.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Toby Faber

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