Musicians Lanny Paykin (foreground) and Laura Hamilton at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, July 2017. While Paykin asserts there is something unique about the sound of a classic Italian instrument, the tool is only responsible for so much. “There was that funny story: somebody was complimenting Jascha Heifetz and said, ‘Oh, Mr. Heifetz, the sound of your violin is so wonderful!’ So Heifetz took the violin and held it [to his ear]. . . . ‘I don’t hear anything.’”

Conrad Erb