My violin heroine Maud Powell

January 25, 2014

The Straud

My violin heroin Maud Powell
by Rachel Barton Pine

It is appropriate that Maud Powell, the first violinist to record a real violin with a recording horn, is being honoured at the Grammys in the same year as Emile Berliner, the German audio pioneer behind the gramophone. Previously, violinists had had to recored on a Stroh violin – basically a violin fingerboard with a metal recording horn protruding from it that served as the sound box. Physically it was awkward to play because it was so unbalanced, and it was Maud Powell who insisted that someone figure out how to record a real violin. Because of her status she was taken seriously, and in 1904 she went into the studio with her violin and became the Victor Company’s first recording star.

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