Best American Violin Maker
Posted 10 July 2006 - 05:09 PM
Posted 10 July 2006 - 07:15 PM
Posted 10 July 2006 - 08:14 PM
If you lower the criteria to top professionals, symphony players and chamber players, it gets more interesting. The old Italians may predominate but you'll find plenty of less expensive violins both old and new being used to earn a living and quite capable of holding their own. One problem of the older American makers mentioned is that expensive restoration of any condition issues can't be justified. No matter how good the instrument may be for its utility value, it isn't an expensive Italian violin.
Posted 10 July 2006 - 09:23 PM
Posted 10 July 2006 - 10:32 PM
Posted 10 July 2006 - 10:41 PM
Posted 10 July 2006 - 10:43 PM
Manfio (Hi) - I wasn't necessarily implying that it takes 50 years for an instrument to reach ideal performance characteristics. As I mentioned, some violins achieve admirable tone from the get go but if one is going to pay the big bucks for a good instrument (e.g $100,000+) one needs to be reassured that it won't deteriorate after a few years. Only the concensus of players over a generation or two can provide this confidence.
This is the situation we are now in with Chinese violins. The top end instruments are superb but we don't know how long the wood is seasoned or what 'treatments' might be given to enhance the tone. They will remain inexpensive until confidence is established.
Oldgeezer - you make a strong point about the cost of repairs. I guess my motivation in asking the original question was to assess whether the old, American violins are under-appreciated (not to say undervalued). I have violins by Hyde, Ricard and J.B. Squier and they play well, especially Andrew Hyde who managed to produce a wonderfully powerful and resonant lower register, but I'm not sure I would put any put them in the top flight. Certainly good enough for orchestral work but maybe not beyond that.
I have never played a Becker but I only hear good comments and the price of Beckers has soared so they must be good.
I had hoped that the recent event on 'The American Violin' at the Library of Congress would put American lutherie into perspective and raise its stature on the world stage.
Posted 10 July 2006 - 10:45 PM
When we saw him perform Brahms last year, I believe he was using a brand new instrument--didn't recognize the maker (not Curtin/Alf).
Posted 11 July 2006 - 08:31 AM
Problems associated with too thin plates (that are the most mentioned cause of "sound deterioration") can be spotted imediatly, since it produces sound problems from the very beggining of the instrument's life, such as hollow sonority, poor sound on high position on the bass strings, wolves, etc (as a player I can feel that).
"Sound deterioration" can be caused by problems with the set up (unoticeble by most of players), wrong string choice, etc. Sometimes it even occurs that the sound of the violin is the same but the opinion of the player about what "good sound is" had changed over the time.
And every instrument (even by the same maker) is unique. I've heard a Peresson that had a very open sound (a bit unsophisticated to my ears) but I know one in our local orchestra that is totally different in sound.
Posted 11 July 2006 - 09:01 AM
I believe, aging helps violin's tone, If the violin is one with good acoustic balance already.
I think fifty or five hundreds years will not make much difference in a violin that is poorly constructed acoustically.
Posted 11 July 2006 - 09:50 AM
Posted 16 July 2006 - 10:52 PM
In another thread, Jeffrey mentioned a violin which held its color nicely for 4-5 years and then developed a greenish color. This may not affect the tone but it will certainly affect the value of the instrument and reputation of the maker.
The varnish is one of the most noticeable aspects of a violin and time can play cruel tricks on it or it can work magic. I guess that was another aspect that was on my mind when I suggested it takes 50 years for a thorough assessment of a maker's work.
(I'm sure your instruments won't turn green but can you be sure the varnish will hold up well over the years?).
Posted 17 July 2006 - 10:01 AM
Not that I don't think modern instruments are wonderful, but in my experience there are lots of historical violas out there. Granted, not as many as violins or celli, but quite a few. Also, I'm not sure what you mean about the size. I suppose that perhaps my experience is limited, but when I've been viola shopping I've been never shown such small instruments as 39 cm, and many of the instruments have been early 20th and late 19th century instruments. My viola is 41.6 cm (late 19th century), and I've seen plenty of other violas in this range.
I guess my point is this: there are historical (and lovely) violas for sale right now and those violists who are not playing them are doing so by choice, not because of scarcity (not that there's anything wrong with that).
Posted 17 July 2006 - 03:17 PM
Of course if a violin maker chooses to ignore all the information available about varnish, dyes and pigments then bad results are possible. The green look from using dragons blood is well described by Michael Darnton "Sometimes we do things that make us think we know better than a couple of hundred years of collective experience, and then BLAM! "
Posted 17 July 2006 - 05:42 PM
John Antes (1740-1811)
Peter Young (they cite an instrument made in 1778 in Philadelphia... though they also mention that it wasn't very pretty)
Abraham Prescott (1789-1858)
John Albert (settled in Philadelphia in 1852)
George Gemunder (came to the US in 1847... trained by Vuillaume)
Herman Macklett (the maternal grandfather of Carl Becker Sr. arrived in America in the early 1860s)
Asa Warren White (1826-1893)
O.H. Bryant (1873-1943 his clients included Kreisler, Ysaye, and Zimbalist)
Simone Sacconi (brought by Emil Herrmann in 1933 he was American for 40 years)
Carl Becker Sr. (1887-1975)
William Moennig Jr (1905-1986)
An interesting article. Check it out.
Posted 17 July 2006 - 06:26 PM
I'm with Blot's book on Piemonte school in my hands now. Fagnola 401 milimeters, Marengo Rinaldi 400 mm., Rocca 400 mm., Rocca 392 mm., Pressenda 394 mm., Felice Guadagnini 390.
On Blot's book on Lombardia and Veneto: Riccardo Anoniazzi 395.
As a viola maker, I'm allways observing viola models and sizes, and I've noticed that.
Posted 17 July 2006 - 06:36 PM
Posted 17 July 2006 - 07:03 PM
Words don't describe the sound, nuance, and power of this cello. It's just amazing...I told the maker I'd be interested in seeing a new cello that played better, so I was about to post a question asking about "Greatest American cello makers."
The most wonderful thing about being an advanced string player is the abilty to experience these instruments both as works of art and as working tools.
I think what one must first do is distinguish between a maker as cello maker, and/or as violin/viola maker. For instance, I have heard much about Erdezs' violas, but not a peep about anything else he makes, to the extent I wonder if he's ONLY a viola maker.
One local viola friend sold her Caron viola and is playing a Matsuda, and another viola sold her Peresson and is playing a Caron.
(I don't recall seeing Matsuda's name yet, BTW)
Overall, isn't Becker the most respected financially? I am told that a good condition Becker Sr cello would sell for at least 60K.
Squire, Gliere, et all, are fine makers(I have a 1915 Gliere violin for sale, it's beautiful but not expensive) but I don't think they are in this category at all.
I wish someone would write a Book about the new england makers, because some of them, including both whites and william conant, made really fine violin, but I have never seen a cello by any of them...
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