The Left-Hand Violin
Stanley Donen’s 1958 romantic comedy Indiscreet reteamed Cary Grant with Ingrid Bergman a dozen years after the two shared the screen in Hitchcock’s spy thriller Notorious (1946.) The later film is a lightweight romance about a man who pretends to be married to limit his commitments to women he can’t resist.
The thing sticking in my mind was Grant’ character’s assertion he never could fulfill a dream of joining a symphony orchestra because he played the violin left-handed, which would disorganize the “chairs” of the strings section.
The movie included a lush vignette of the couple’s intimate Christmas Eve, where she proves a thoughtful gift-giver with a nice violin to commemorate their first date, when he revealed his thwarted dream.
A fan of classical music since the fifties, I’d observed dozens of symphonies, their ranked violins sawing away in unison. Young and old, male and female — but never a lefty to break the line. After seeing the movie this year I wondered if left-handed violins remain scarce.
No matter where I looked on the internet, there were no lefties to be seen among the violins. Unlike baseball teams, where southpaws are incorporated at positions like first base and pitcher, and outfielders can be either, symphony orchestras appear unbending in their “chair” lineup. Just one of those odd little things you never notice. Until you do.