Sherlock Holmes and His Violin

17 Oct

I love Sherlock Holmes. The books. The movies. The TV shows. All of the TV shows. In fact as remarkable as Jeremy Brett was, it’s so cool how uncommon, how unexpected, how dazzling Benedict Cumberbatch is. That he’s portraying Sherlock in present time, with present day technology (smartphones and blogging are huge components of the show!), makes this Sherlock even more compelling.

Sherlock-Violin.10.17.13I love music. OK, not news. Hold off on alerting the media on that one. Back to Sherlock. And music. How happy was I to discover that Sherlockology, the ultimate resource for the BBC series Sherlock, found out how Sherlock feels about his violin. We also learn a bit about what to expect from our latest Sherlock – and his violin – as the series continues.

From the very first introduction Sherlock Holmes gives of himself, both in the canon and BBC series, he mentions his pastime of playing the violin and as such is known for his musical ability in this field as much as his smoking, drug taking and of course ‘the work’.

But true to character, Holmes didn’t have any old violin. During the short story ‘The Cardboard Box’, Sherlock Holmes revealed that he himself owned a violin made by the renowned violinmaker, Antonio Stradivarius. He had purchased it from a pawnshop on Tottenham Court Road for fifty-five shillings although believed it to be worth at least five hundred guineas.

For those not familiar with the worth of this out of circulation currency (we had to look it up too) Holmes clearly had an eye for a bargain. A shilling is worth in today’s money five new pence, making his purchase the grand sum of £2.75, while according to him it was worth £525. Taking into consideration the modern values of historic concertina prices, the actual cost is closer to just under a thousand pounds with its worth being in excess of £185,000. A costly instrument indeed, yet not when compared to the value of Stradivarius violin today when they come with a price tag of not thousands, but millions (the 1721 Stradivarius known as the Lady Blunt sold at auction for £9.8m in 2011.) So could our Sherlock Holmes in the 21st century really afford one?

Whatever Sherlock’s secret is, his violin will definitely be making a welcome return in series three. There was no question that the consulting detective would play the instrument in Sherlock regardless of manufacturer …

[Prior to airing, show creator] Steven Moffat was asked if his Sherlock would play. His answer was a resounding yes, suggesting this was one of the many elements that made the character so rich and eccentric. Benedict Cumberbatch went on to study the instrument under the tutorage of Eos Chater, who performs what you hear in the series.

Having thumbed through the sheet music on Sherlock’s music stand in 221B, it is clear he is certainly a very proficient violinist, not to mention composer … Whatever Sherlock’s secret is, his violin will definitely be making a welcome return in series three.

 

Sources:
Article courtesy of: Sherlockology’s Metro Blog
Pic: Sherlock performs Bach’s Sonata No.1 in G-Minor in The Reichenbach Fall, Hartswood Films/BBC

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