Lesson #233: Luthiers

Stradivarii have come up twice this week, for no reason at all. The article I was reading today questioned whether a Stradivarius really produces a higher quality sound than modern pieces. I don’t play the violin and, while I have no doubt that at some point in the course of my musical education I’ve heard a Stradivarius played,* I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t recognize the sound if I heard it.

Anyway, none of that is the point. I’ll leave it to the higher paid and better informed to argue the aural value of the Stradivarius. The point is the word luthier. Because I’m a smart girl with good deductive reasoning skills, even though I had never seen the word luthier before, I was able to gauge that it is someone who makes violins.** Turns out that’s only sort of half true.

According to Merriam-Webster, a luthier is “one who makes stringed instruments.” As I’d suspected, the word is French and is derived from the word luth, meaning lute, which is in turn derived from the Middle French word lut, which has the same meaning.

*Not likely live, but I’m a fan of Joshua Bell’s work and he plays a Strad.

**Even though the word implies a lute maker.

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