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Best American Violin Maker


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#1 GlennYorkPA

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Posted 09 July 2006 - 09:05 AM

Assuming that it takes about 50 years for a violin to reach tonal maturity, has any historical American maker produced violins of a quality acceptable to international soloists?

Leaving aside quality of workmanship and market value (not always a guide to performance characteristics) I'm curious to know if history has yet had time to assess the merits of American violins relative to European.

I believe that Menuhin owned and played a Peresson but how do makers such as A. White, I, White, Bryant, Squier, Reindahl, Gemunder, Becker stack up?

(Have I missed any contenders off the list?).

#2 Melvin Goldsmith

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Posted 09 July 2006 - 10:05 AM

Du Pre preffered a Perreson over her Strad. ...You missed Sacconi (the greatest in my opinion!)....There's a few good ones working now too!
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#3 GlennYorkPA

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Posted 09 July 2006 - 11:59 AM

Melvin,

I wasn't aware of du Pre's preference for a Peresson over a Strad! That's an incredible reference for Peresson.

I was trying to avoid the recent and the living because history has not had time to assess their merits.

There is also the niggling question of whether Sacconi, Degani and Gemunder count as truly American.

#4 Melvin Goldsmith

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Posted 09 July 2006 - 02:01 PM

http://en.wikipedia....ov_Stradivarius
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#5 stefan1

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Posted 09 July 2006 - 02:43 PM

Menuhini and and DuPre are certainly not the only ones to play a
Peresson.

I know Nadia Sonenberg plays her 1971 Peresson out on occasion. As
did Issac Stern.

Eugene Fodor too is a big fan.

Dylana Jensen plays a Zygmuntowicz and swears by it.

Question - what counts as American? Peresson lived in NJ, but he
also lived in Venezuela and was born in Italy.

#6 bnewtonPA

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Posted 09 July 2006 - 09:26 PM

Glenn,

If an instrument made tomorrow has a tone worth notariety, then why would we have to assume that it'll take another 50 years to sound great? No disrespect here, but I'm not sure I understand why you would think that (well, yeah, I am sure... I don't understand that). I have to admit that I'm very unknowledgeable of these things, but I thought that there were a few contemporaries that are doing very well.

#7 GlennYorkPA

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Posted 09 July 2006 - 11:40 PM

Only time can be the ultimate judge of a violin's performance characteristics.
Things can be done to achieve immediate and impressive results; (Vuillaume destroyed hundreds of fine instruments by baking them. The short term effect was good but temporary). Acid treatments can also enhance the sound but ultimately destroys the wood fibers).

Peresson cut his plates very thin to achieve quick response and this resulted in delighted clients whose enthusiasm waned after a few, short years.

That's why I was asking about earlier makers whose results have endured.

But as Stefan points out, Peresson cannot be considered American. He was born in Udine and learned his craft in Italy.

That's why I was asking about American born and raised makers living and working in the 19th or early 20th century.

#8 xdmitrix420

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 12:22 AM

i don't know about american makers but there's a lot of great
canadian makers out there too i have a viola by john newton
which was just made for me, and previous to that i had another john
newton for 12 years.  the former was a brescian style and the
newer one is a modern shape which has a number of implementations.

#9 guta

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 01:33 AM

Other nationalities get almost totally ingored as well -

When was the last time anyone raved about their Swiss, Danish, Swedish, Spanish or Portugese violin? The list goes on and on.

O.K. Back to the topic, I wasn't trying to hijack.

Many people maintain that Becker Sr. was the greatest "American" maker. And yet - Is there any well- known soloist who actually performs on one? Any soloist using a Sacconi?

#10 Fellow

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 02:43 AM

Hi all,

I think whoever has made it on the the "best" list has been judged and been supported
by a small group of people (great players and dealer, collectors, perhaps ). An average Joe (an ordinary player) on a street has no say on its outcomes. Joe belongs the big silent majority (99.9999%). It is
problematic, to say the least. How complete (fair) is the list? Why Mr. So-and-so is on the list?
Why he is not on the list? etc.... (tons of questions, with no end in sight)

I think it (the list) is more a perception of a few (0.0001%) than a meaningful ranking.
An average player may only know 10 violins intimately in his life time. A good player may know more.
How many more? The numbers of great violins that we are unaware of their exisyences is everybody's guess. To come up with a meaningful " best" list is an impossible task. ( I played a Becker for 5 min one time)

#11 stefan1

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 04:08 AM

As far as I know, the rumor about Peresson cutting his plates thin
was fabricated by a New York Dealer. Somehow it stuck through the
years. To the best of my knowledge, it was not really so.

I believe Michael Darnton has pointed out the Peressons he measured
were, if anything, thick.



I admit that I have a bias towards Peressons, as I own one.

As far as I can tell, it sounds better now than it did in 1981,
when I first got it as a brand new fiddle (and it ain't me, cause
I'm not as good as I was then)  

#12 Melvin Goldsmith

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 04:57 AM

Du Pre's Peresson cello is loaned to the Jerusalem Quartet by Daniel Barenboim. I doubt it can be as thin as the her Strad cello which avarages about 3mm over its front! The issue of 'how American' a maker or an instrument is, is an interesting one to define...Does the maker have to have been born and trained in the USA? Is it enough that the maker held a USA passport? Is it simply enough that the maker had residency rights and made the instrument in the USA? etc.....I tend to personaly feel that the loosest most encompassing definition is the most attractive & the USA should claim it's credit for good violins that immigrant makers chose to make their living with on its soil!....But I'm a Brit so guess this ain't entirely my business!
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#13 MANFIO

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 09:15 AM

Hi Glenn! As a matter of fact Peresson's violins have rather thick plates. Some dealers said that about thin plates, but that's not true.

#14 Erika

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 09:40 AM

Zygmuntowicz has been very successful. Lin and Bell have his violins. I think Vengerov does too. And Stern, of course.

#15 Selim

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 09:53 AM

"--Zygmuntowicz has been very successful. Lin and Bell have his violins. I think Vengerov does too. And Stern, of course. --"
Is there any CD recording with one of these violins?
I would love to hear the sound.
I would appreciate a link if any.
Thanks.
Selim Y.

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#16 Erika

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 10:15 AM

Try the Emerson Quartet CDs. Philip Setzer plays a Zygmuntowicz.

#17 GlennYorkPA

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 10:45 AM

I think, from the way this thread is developing, that it's safe to conclude there aren't any historical American makers of great merit.

The names that keep surfacing are either alive, recently deceased or not American.

Carl Becker Sr seems to be the most respected American maker from an earlier age.
Wilkanowski made nice looking violins but I have never heard anyone rave about their performance characteristics.

#18 MANFIO

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 11:02 AM

Hi Glenn. Violin making in North America is relatevely new. Top makers are scarce everywhere, but it seem there is a great generation of American makers now.


Sacconi's arrival in the USA is a hallmark in American making, I think, since he trained a great number of makers and restorers. B

#19 Sartory

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 11:07 AM

George Gemunder, Sr. is my favorite non living American maker. I have played many Gemunder violins and think they are great. Several professional orchestra players play Gemunder violins. I have heard them called the "Poor man's Vuillaume".
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#20 Erika

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Posted 10 July 2006 - 04:16 PM

quote:


Originally posted by: GlennYorkPA
I think, from the way this thread is developing, that it's safe to conclude there aren't any historical American makers of great merit.



Well... you're working with some very limiting criteria. A lot of highly respected old Italians can't pass that test either. For example, I can't think offhand of any international soloist cellists who play a Grancino, but they're still highly respected cellos. For a time there about half the cellists of the Berlin Phil played Grancino cellos. You know how terrific that section sounds. I'd put makers like Becker, etc in a similar category. Their instruments are highly in demand among seasoned professionals and the prices just keep going up.




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