IT’S NOT A RELIC OF WAR.
Rather it is a unique memorial to the dead.
Made in 1983 – almost seventy years after the conflict broke out – from pine and sycamore that grew at La Boiselle, Authuille and in a copse at Bois Quarante near Ypres on the Western Front, the violin was crafted by professional musician Kenneth Popplewell. (1)
Born in Hammersmith, London in May 1914 he had already showed his talent for music by winning a number of competitions by the age of 11. However this was in the mid 1920s and he felt compelled to follow his father’s advice and find a job that would provide some degree of financial security. Thus he became an apprentice printer at 14.
The Second World War interrupted his career as it did for millions of others. Following service in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps he decided to follow his dream of being a professional musician and became a member of Britain’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1946. He would continue playing for the RPO and the BBC Symphony Orchestra before becoming the leader of the Waford Philharmonic Orchestra in 1982.
He created the violin to honour all those who lost their lives during the First World War. His original idea was to raise funds for war charities through concerts and then putting the violin up for sale. (2)
The Imperial War Museum originally had the violin on loan before being gfted the instrument in 1992 following Kenneth’s death.
The associated bow was made by Charles Bazin, one of three members of the family with that name. (3)
Marked ‘C Bazin’ it is possibly made by Charles Nicholas Bazin (4) or his son Charles Louis Bazin. (5)
Kenneth’s violin has a special place in IWM’s collection. Visitors have heard it played at the annual IWM London’s Remembrance Day Service in November and on special occasions such as IWM’s Night Before the Somme centenary event in 2016.
STEPHANIE CHILDRESS plays IWM’s ‘Western Front Violin’.
Images copyright © Richard Maddox 2016. All images used with permission.
There Stephanie Childress (pictured above at the event) played Fauré’s Aprés un Revê, Op 7 just before midnight on 31 June 2016.
More information about conductor and violinist Stephanie Childress can be found at her website and on that of her agent, Harrison Parrott, https://stephaniechildress.com/en/home/ and https://www.harrisonparrott.com/artists/stephanie-childress
As usual IWM commemorates the Armistice of 1918 with short ceremonies IWM North, IWM Duxford and IWM London that give opportunities to reflect.
Details can be found at:
(1) https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30080949 – retrieved 11 February 2019
(2) http://www.optimamagazine.co.uk/read/features/history-and-heritage/1525-strings-from-the-somme – retrieved 11 February 2019
(3) https://tarisio.com/cozio-archive/browse-the-archive/makers/ – retrieved 11 February 2019
(4) https://tarisio.com/cozio-archive/browse-the-archive/makers/maker/?Maker_ID=44 – retrieved 11 February 2019
(5) https://tarisio.com/cozio-archive/browse-the-archive/makers/maker/?Maker_ID=45 – retrieved 11 February 2019