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Last updated at 13:45 GMT, Friday, 13 January 2012

Defending the Stradivarius


13 January 2012

Lovers of the much-revered Italian Stradivarius violins have dismissed news that they may not be as good as modern violins. The results of a test in the US have shown that most players prefer the sound of a new instrument.

Alan Johnston

A musician plays a Stradivarius

Is the Stradivarius the best?


Click to hear the report


For generations, lovers of classical music have believed that when it comes to the violin, there is nothing finer than the sound of a Stradivarius. But research in America has challenged the mystique surrounding the famous old instruments.

Tests involving more than 20 professional violinists were conducted in a hotel in Indiana. The violinists were made to wear goggles that blinded them.

They couldn't tell whether they were playing an antique Stradivarius, or a brand new instrument. And most of the musicians decided that they liked the new ones best.

But they've been unimpressed by this in a place called Cremona, the home town of the Stradivarius violin. At the instrument museum there, a spokesman said the American survey was no more than "media hype".

He said that for hundreds of years the world of music had recognised the quality of the Stradivarius.

Alan Johnston


Click to hear the vocabulary


when it comes to (something)

regarding, in connection with (something)

has challenged

has questioned

the mystique

the specialness and strangeness


a device to cover the eyes

brand new

never used before

liked the new ones best

preferred the new ones

unimpressed by (something)

not made to feel admiration for (something)

home town

town where someone is from

media hype

something which had its importance exaggerated by news outlets


accepted as the truth

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