Sunday, 14 August 2011

A musical dynasty

The other day I met Ljuba's nephew, Stefan. He is eight years old, speaks perfect German, and plays violin more expressively than many of the musicians I heard when I worked for the Portland Symphony. When I asked him how he learned how to play violin he told me that he starts playing when he wakes up and stops playing around midnight.

It also can't hurt being the son of the best Romani violinist in Serbia, Ljuba's "real" brother Misha. A short side note - real brothers are precisely that - someone who shares parents with you. In the leafy family trees of Grabovica, extended family members are often assigned the title of brother, sister, or cousin. The prefix "real" says, 'yes, he's my brother, but he's REALLY my brother.'

And Ljuba's real brother really is the best violinist in Serbia. There is an ongoing debate here with the power of interrupting meals: who is the best accordionist - Aca Cergar or Dejan Kostic. Not so in the violin world, as Misha is unrivaled as king of the fiddle. I was lucky enough to catch Misha and Ljuba playing a few tunes together in Baba's back yard.

The violin that Misha is playing here hangs on the wall of the dining room. Every visitor to the house has commented on how it's a good instrument. Everyone who has played it in my company has made it sound good. Yet the bridge looks like it's on the verge of buckling and there are several visible cracks that stretch across the belly. Another student here, a classical violinist from New York, could not believe the condition of the violin. When Branko, a local musician, played her 300 year-old pedigreed violin, he didn't like it.

Ljuba, Misha, and Stefan come from a long line of highly respected musicians. Their grandfather's real brother was Dushko Petrovic, one of the most well-known singers and accordionists in Yugoslavia. When I asked Ljuba how he learned how to play accordion, he said simply, "Ja sam harmonika" - I am the accordion.


unstrung said...

holy freaking shite!!! just... yeah. wow. wow.

the beachfront community said...

Ljuba, Stefan and Misha! You are welcome in Lewiston Maine any day of the week!