An old violin plays an old tune for newly-weds

January 3, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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A violin which has not seen the light of day for thirty years has accompanied its former owner’s grandson to his chuppah.

Sam Podjarski welcomes the groom and his parents

When  Antony Ritch met Sydney violinist Sam Podjarski to discuss the music to be played at his wedding at Sydney’s Central Synagogue, he told him that his late grandfather had been a very keen and adept player.

He recalled happy days when he would sit on his grandfather’s lap and listening to Eddie Ritch play sweet melodies on his beloved instrument.

Podjarski asked Ritch where the violin was and he and his bride-to be, Lara Hoffman, looked at each other but could not come up with an answer.

The budding detectives left no stone unturned and found the violin under the bed of Antony’s uncle, Paul Ritch.

Podjarski told J-Wire: “It was in bits and in terrible condition and I had it restored to it s former beauty. It produces a sound as sweet as honey.”

No-one told Antony’s father, Jack Ritch, about the instrument.

Eddie Ritch was born in Glasgow while his parents were on a visit to family from their home in the Ural Mountains. Shortly after his birth, they returned home to Russia and it was to be another 20 years before the young Eddie returned to the Scottish city to make a new life for himself.

Hoping to see a new generation of violin-players in the family, Eddie bought one for his three-yr-old son Jack, but the toddler decided that he would rather listen to the beautiful music created by his father than attempt to reach his standard.

The Ritch family moved to Sydney in 1952 and twenty five years later Eddie found a new audience for his talents…his young grandson Antony who joined his grandmother Doris,  his parents Jack and Di, his brother David and Uncle Paul.

Eddie Ritch passed away in 1977 and the violin was stored away …and forgotten about.

But to the striking tones of the song sung every Shabbat, L’Dor V’Dor – “from Generation to Generation”, the violin was brought back to life in the synagogue as Antony made his way to the Chuppah flanked by his mother and father.

That was the moment Central’s Rabbi Levi Wolff chose to tell Jack Ritch that the violin he could hear being played by Podjarski at the Ark was his late father’s.

Ritch told J-Wire: “It was an incredibly emotional moment. I nearly cried but I managed to maintain my composure…something I could not do later on at the reception when I told the wedding guests the story. I could not hold back my tears.”

Lara and Antony will spend their immediate future in San Francisco…and the violin? Ritch told J-Wire: “Of course we will keep it in the family and my brother and I will take turns of looking after it. But the big hope is that one day in the not too distant future, eager young Ritch hands will give it the life it truly deserves.”

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