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Richard Toop

(b Maidstone, Feb 19, 1951). Australian violinist, improviser, composer, radical luthier, and Hörspiel maker, born in England. Despite gaining a music scholarship for secondary school study, from his mid-teens he was essentially self-taught. After a few years performing and composing in a variety of genres in England, as well as beginning to create experimental string instruments, mainly based on easily affordable Chinese violins, in the mid-seventies he moved to Australia, where he rapidly emerged as a leading figure in a thriving free improvisation scene. In the process, he adopted a notably critical, polemical stance vis-à-vis those fully notated compositions that left no scope for improvisation. In 1986 he moved to Berlin, partly to facilitate work on his project The Relative Violin, which takes a sort of Gesamtkunstwerk approach to the instrument (performing, composing, designing, constructing). He relocated to Australia in 2003.

While Rose’s work tends, understandably, to be assessed in terms of its most radical elements (he has performed with musicians such as Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, John Zorn, and Bob Ostertag) it is, in fact, very eclectic in orientation. As an improviser, he not only has access to the entire canon of virtuoso classical violin technique, but is also at home with its jazz practice from Stuff Smith onwards, as well as any number of regional (ethnic) practices....