About Robert McDuffie
Robert McDuffie (Bobby) is an internationally renowned violinist who has played with just about every major orchestra in the world. He's originally from Macon, Georgia and his musical background is a fusion of southern rock'n'roll, church music and Bobby’s ten years of study with a Hungarian refugee who’d studied at the Liszt Academy in Budapest.
Bobby McDuffie's mother and sister are also musicians, both pianists. Bobby's mom is now 90 years old but still full of life and active in the Macon, Georgia community, and still a musician; these days she plays the organ. When Bobby was 16 he left Georgia to attend the Julliard music school in New York and he's remained in New York ever since.
Bobby is married with two adult children, but neither have followed in Bobby’s professional music path.
Two musical organizations founded by Bobby McDuffie
Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University
Bobby is still deeply rooted in his hometown Macon, Georgia. He founded the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings that allows promising string students from all over the world to study and train with the best professionals. Part of the students’ training is to spend time in Rome, Italy as participants in the second musical organization founded by Bobby, the Rome Chamber Music Festival.
Rome Chamber Music Festival
Bobby McDuffie founded the Rome Chamber Music Festival 17 years ago and although last year concerts were suspended due to Covid they are fully back on track now.
Concerts are normally held in June of every year but again because of Covid the Rome Chamber Music Festival will instead take place over Thanksgiving weekend in 2021.
The regular festival schedule will resume in June 2022 at a new venue that Bobby McDuffie hopes will be its semi-permanent location moving forward, the Teatro Argentina.
The 2021 schedule for the Rome Chamber Music Festival
The 2021 festival will take place over five consecutive days. The first two days and the last two days of the festival will take place in Rome, and the middle day of the festival will take place in Florence.
The scheduled program is an eclectic mix that includes a celebration of Beethoven, music written by American icons Leonard Bernstein and Frank Zappa, and a Macon Georgia up-and-coming aspiring musician, Bob Lennon.
The Rome Chamber Music Festival has evolved into not just performances of outstanding music but an opportunity and forum for young and talented musicians to learn and perform in the context of the festival.
When Bobby performs as violinist it will be along with five young and talented musicians. His role is both as a performer and coach.
If you plan to be in Rome in late November then you should definitely attend one of the Rome Chamber Music Festival concerts.
Here's the schedule.
Here's how to purchase tickets.
Robert McDuffie's Guarneri del Gesù violin
Bobby plays one of the most prestigious and prized violins in the world: a 1735 Guarneri del Gesù Italian violin known as the Ladenburg. Renowned violinists including Paganini and Spohr have played this violin.
When the violin became available 20 years ago the price tag was $3.5 million, well beyond Bobby's personal budget. It wasn't a simple matter to acquire the violin but after more than a year his effort paid off and an investment group of 15 diverse investors was formed including Wall street executives and the commissioner of the National Football League. Bobby is also one of the investors.
The violin is Bobby McDuffie's to use and play but it belongs to the investor group. Initially the arrangement was for a 20 year period - a lease of sorts - after which the violin would be sold and ideally the investors would reap a hefty profit. The date has been extended to 2028 so Bobby has a few more years to fully enjoy this beautiful instrument.
Purchasing a violin with an investor group like this was the first arrangement of its kind; a uniquely American approach.
Bobby sees himself performing until he’s 65, or 70, after which he will dedicate himself full-time to the Center for Strings of Mercer University and the Rome Chamber Music Festival, both of which are passion projects for Bobby.
Traveling with a violin
Before Robert McDuffie travels he has his trusted luthier in New York give his violin a check-up.
Although many musicians who travel with a violin loosen the strings and perform other pre-travel preparations, Bobby simply packs his violin in a specially prepared and super solid violin case. Once the violin is in the case he's comfortable stashing it in the airplane’s overhead bin without any worry, even if other items are placed atop the violin case.
Humidity can be a concern when traveling with a violin. Each year Bobby McDuffie travels to Aspen where the climate is particularly dry so he uses a low-cost humidifier, a Dampit, to keep his violin’s humidity at the right level.
Bobby makes sure to pre-board so his violin has a guaranteed spot in the overhead bin when flying.
Robert McDuffie's virtual performances
If you'd like to hear Bobby play his violin then have a listen to one of these virtual performances:
Philip Glass: American Four Seasons with violinist Robert McDuffie
"Ashokan Farewell" by McDuffie/Pridgen
Felix Mendelssohn - Violin Concerto In E Minor, Op. 64 - 1. Allegro Molto Appassionato
The history of the violin
Although other countries are associated with violins none more-so than Italy. Here's a wonderful book that delves into the history of the Guarneri violin: The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family.
The Rome Opera House
When you visit Rome it's well worth it to purchase tickets for one of the performances at this exquisite opera house. Read all about the history of the Rome Opera House here, and purchase performance tickets here.
Every summer Rome Opera House performances move outdoors to the Terme di Caracalla and those performances are thoroughly enjoyable.
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