If you have ever considered learning a musical instrument, then you might find of interest this article that talks about how some of the instruments we marvel at hearing today became famous because of those who were playing them.

 

Electric Guitar

Les Paul was one of the earliest artists responsible for promoting the electric guitar. He designed a solid-body one in 1941 but before it was ready for production companies such as Gibson, in 1952, and Leo Fender, too, had their models in mass production.

Hank Marvin of The Shadows was to make famous the Fender Stratocaster. He represents an iconic image playing his Fiesta Red Strat with its maple fingerboard, gold-plated fittings, and tremolo arm, on hits such as “Apache” and “Wonderful Land”. When recording “Apache” at Abbey Road Studios, the group would use Two-Tone AC15 amplifiers.

Brian May of Queen followed in the footsteps of the great guitarists as a member of the group Queen. Music is not his only talent, though, he is also an astrophysicist.

 

Violin

Famous players of the violin include Yehudi Menuhin, Stéphane Grappelli, Nigel Kennedy, Vanessa-Mae, and Nicola Benedetti. Menuhin is considered one of the greatest violinists of the 20th century. He was also a conductor and spent most of his career in Britain.  Grappelli was a French-Italian jazz violinist, who also played the piano, saxophone, and accordion. Musicians often play several instruments, although will be most famous for one of them. Nigel Kennedy found fame playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Born in Brighton, England, he came from a musical family, with his grandfather being Lauri Kennedy, the principal cellist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and his grandmother Dorothy Kennedy, being a pianist. Mae made the electronic violin famous, fun, and sexy, with images of her playing her white-bodied instrument whilst getting her dress wet in the sea. Benedetti won Young Musician of the Year in 2004 at the age of 16 and ever since has been playing her classical compositions to packed concert halls.

 

Piano

When we think of famous pianists, we can go way back to the time of Music Hall and variety entertainment, which none of us can remember, or think back to the 1960s, which few remember even if they were there, when Russ Conway managed to play the piano despite having the tip of this third finger missing. He lost it inside a bread slicer during Naval service. He was discharged from the Navy in 1948 because of a stomach ulcer after carrying on in the Navy after his service was completed. He had hits on the piano including “Side Saddle”, “Roulette”, and “Snow Coach”. Nobody would ever have considered renaming this last one “Slow Coach”, the speed he used to work his way up and down the keys and octaves.

There is also Robert Nicholas Crush, known as “Bobby Crush”, for his stage name. He is an English pianist, songwriter, television presenter, and actor. He was from Leyton in East London originally. He had a hit with ‘Borsalino’ and was very popular as a pianist in the 1970s and 1980s.

More recently, we think of the brilliant Yuja Wang and Lang Lang, both from China. Canadian Louis Lortie is one of today’s most sought-after pianists, metaphorically providing the maple syrup for many an audience that he enthralls.

The most difficult piano sonata is considered to be Beethoven’s No. 29 B flat major op. 106. Ligeti’s piano works are thought to be the most difficult piano etudes to play. I rather like Chopin’s etudes. In particular, his Étude Op. 10, No. 12 in C minor. A cover version of this was used for the opening sequence of the UK game show Interceptor, which was first shown between 19 July 1989 and 1 January 1990. It only ran for one season but its music deserved more of an airing. It helped engage its TV audience was classical music.

 

In conclusion, we have three musical instruments here that are wonderful to learn to play on. So, it is interesting to know something about how they have increased in popularity through the years.