Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Baltimore Rhapsody" Block 16 - the viola block

After the holiday block drought, here is the viola block, the last of the string blocks for "Baltimore Rhapsody" (see background story here).

The viola is the alto member of the string section with its tuning being a fifth below that of the violin.  It is very similar to the violin in appearance, with the body being slightly bigger thus producing a deep, warm tone.

For a long time, the viola was simply used by composers to "fill out the chord," or double the parts of the cello or double bass an octave higher.  CW Gluck finally freed the instrument to more interesting parts, and Haydn and Mozart followed this trend.  

Mozart was fond of the instrument and played it himself in quartets during his later years.  He used two violas in his string quintets and wrote two beautiful duos for violin and viola, as well as a Symphonie concertante for violin, viola and orchestra.

In Strauss's Don Quixote, the viola represents the voice of Don's attendant, Sancho Panza.

The viola is no longer an orchestral drudge played by not-so-good violinists; it has a distinctive voice with a demanding repertoire. 

To be honest, I had not intended to do an individual viola block for this first quilt.  Being so similar in shape to the violin and not a very showy instrument in most works, I, like others, mistakenly considered it sort of "second fiddle" until I did more reading.  I should have known better because I sing alto and know how important that part can be ("anyone can play/sing the melody...").

I know a viola player who is an excellent musician and conductor of the local university orchestra (was it he who asked me if I knew the difference between the violin and the viola?  the viola burns longer...yuck-yuck-yuck...).

In stitches,
Teresa   :o)


  1. Another gorgeous block! And I just love those little strawberries! So sweet!

  2. OMG you continue to blow me away with your beautiful work. I am so inspired by you!

  3. Oh my gosh! What another beautiful block. I can't wait to see all these together! It's gonna be a beauty!

  4. Love the strawberries. Will you be designing an applique border for your quilt?

  5. Fantastic eye for fabric use. What criteria do you use for fabric choices? More texture or color? I know you have a vast stash collected, but the textures you use tell the story of the blocks. Chris

  6. Not only am I amazed at the patterns, but the fabrics you chose just help to really bring it all off.

  7. Oh, I am amazed at all the fabrics you've chosen for the strawberries and leaves. Just marvelous!!

  8. That is a beautiful block with lovely fabric choices! I am glad you put the viola in, because I sing alto too.

  9. Yea -- it's my instrument this time! Just don't ask me to play anything more advanced that a 2nd year student.

  10. Oh you are doing such beautiful work!!

  11. OMG those strawberries are the sweetest things! I love the fabrics.
    what a stunning block - again!!
    happy new year!

  12. Beautiful block...great fabric selection!

  13. I so admire your patience with all those tiny pieces!!! The strawberries are just wonderful--so colorful & really add to the border of the block. You are creating a masterpiece & it will be gorgeous when done. Congrats on keeping up on all the applique blocks to this point--mine would all be pieces laying in a pile.

  14. Such a beautiful block Teresa and beautiful work!

  15. Teresa,
    Once again you have designed and stitched an absolutely wonderful block!!! You ARE planning to write a book for this quilt with pictures, designs, and all the musical history and information, right?! You simply must!!!! Certainly it must go in the shows to be properly seen in the world!

    P.S.(Maybe the book would have some simplified versions of blocks too for those intimidated by this masterpiece). What do you think?

  16. Beautiful block and fabric choices again! Hurray for harmony!!



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