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Laurie Niles wedding announcement: Niles/Italian

July 24, 2006 at 5:55 AM

I did it, I bought the Italian!

I've had a rather long courtship with this fiddle, since the first time I picked it up and fell madly in love with it earlier this year, until now.

As with other long-term relationships that require a major commitment, I had to mull over in great detail what I was rather sure of in an instant. It had to meet my relatives: teachers past and present, colleagues, other luthiers, my students, everyone on this board. And yes, I had to play it for my mom and dad, two well-meaning non-musicians who could nonetheless hear some kind of difference, they thought, maybe.

I have received every kind of advice imaginable:

"My Amati also has a later scroll. I've never regretted buying it, I love it. And it has increased in value by hundreds of thousands of dollars."

"Don't buy a composite violin, don't do it, it's not worth it!"

"It's great that it has no cracks on the back. But just about every old Italian instrument has cracks."

"It's just got too many cracks."

"All that varnish is the best thing in the world, be glad they did it. It was a fad for a while, and it was done to many of these violins. It protected it, and it's just fine."

"It's way overvarnished."

"I think it is what it is, the back matches the front matches the sides. And the archings are right. A Gagliano, just like I own. It sounds nice."

"It has that unique, Gagliano 'honey' sound."

"It's got that old Italian sound. It sounds gorgeous."

"Don't buy a violin based on sound."

"I can find you a violin that sounds like this that's in a lot better shape. I bet you'd like our $150,000 Vuillaume...."

In the end, I could completely justify getting it, based on what people said. Also, I could completely justify not getting it, based on what people said.

"I can't give this violin back," I blurted out to Robert, one day. He was returning from work as I practiced. "I just can't give it back."

"Okay, then," said my hubby. "We'll figure out a way."

So we have decided that we are going to live in my violin case for the next six years. Hah!

I started asking everyone I knew about getting financing for a violin.

"You want to buy, what? That's considered a collectible. You certainly can't depreciate it on your taxes," was the advice from our accountant.

From a financial consultant: "I really don't think you can be approved on a bank loan for that, can you get a home equity loan?" Well, not if you don't own a home... "Can you get your parents or someone to buy it for you?"

Then Robert, as well as some fellow musicians, advised me to look into getting a loan through the Musician's Union, of which I've been a member for about 20 years. Local 47, the Los Angeles branch of the American Federation of Musicians, has a credit union, and they offer instrument loans, up to $50,000, if you put down at least 10 percent of the cost of the instrument. The rate was 7.7 percent. So I will get the loan through the Union, and never ever again complain about those yearly union dues!

From Sydney Menees
Posted on July 24, 2006 at 8:27 AM
That's great! I'm really happy for you, Laurie. Those pictures are great too.

"Don't buy a violin based off its sound."

From Neil Cameron
Posted on July 24, 2006 at 10:45 AM
Congratulations Laurie! May you and your Italian have many, many happy years together.


From Gregory Zinkl
Posted on July 24, 2006 at 12:25 PM
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

Congratulations!!! I was hoping you'd buy it! And what a nice, supportive husband you have!! I hope he doesn't mind the competition!!!

Now about the bow . . . ;)

From Danielle Goatley
Posted on July 24, 2006 at 12:49 PM
Yay! Congrats, and hope you have many happy years with the Italian!
From John Chew
Posted on July 24, 2006 at 1:30 PM
What a lovely couple you two make! Congratulations!
From Ray Randall
Posted on July 24, 2006 at 2:53 PM
Congratulations and best wishes. You won't be sorry. Many years down the road it could also be your retirement.
From Scott 68
Posted on July 24, 2006 at 3:13 PM
aww thats great i know youll love playing it
From Karl Winkler
Posted on July 24, 2006 at 3:26 PM
You look happy together! I've played on a Gagliano viola and enjoyed it very much. My favorite part of your post is the contradictory comments and suggestions you received while considering purchasing your instrument. It's funny how that works... often we make a decision then look to friends and family to help us sort it out. But then, it almost gets more complicated the more opinions we get from people.

Enjoy your violin!

From John Lanceley
Posted on July 24, 2006 at 3:54 PM
Hey, congratulations Laurie! That violin is nearly as gorgeous as your summer intern! Does this Italian marriage mean that your kids are gonna start waving their hands about when they speak?
From Michael Avagliano
Posted on July 24, 2006 at 4:06 PM
Congratulations, Laurie! The two of you make a beautiful couple.

And just for clarification, your accountant is wrong in one sense -- if you use your instrument for business purposes (making money playing music), it most certainly can be depreciated on your tax return.

From D Wright
Posted on July 24, 2006 at 6:17 PM
i'm glad you ignored other people's comments and bought the violin. it looks amazing! please post up a performance audio :c)
From Kelsey Z.
Posted on July 24, 2006 at 6:28 PM
Congratulations, Laurie! You deserve if and don't they always say, true love will always last and win in the long run? Something like that anyways... May you have many happy years of playing ahead of you!
From Carolyn Shields
Posted on July 24, 2006 at 6:29 PM
On the depreciability issue, the second and third circuit federal courts of appeal decided that musical instruments (Tourte bows and a Ruggeri bass viol) were depreciable, but the IRS did not acquiesce in these decisions, and may be on the lookout for an appropriate case to create a conflict in the circuits and a further word from the Supreme Court. The third circuit court and even the IRS apparently believed that a contrary Ninth Circuit case (Ruggeri, Strad and Gabrielli violins) is not applicable. The IRS' challenges were based on a belief that the taxpayers could not show a determinable useful life of instruments that were centuries old and still going strong. One tax commentator wrote about the case involving a taxpaper named "Liddle" in a Note titled "A Liddle Night Music." How nice it would be if the instruments really had an indeterminately long life.
From Luis Pernalete
Posted on July 24, 2006 at 7:17 PM
Congratulations, Laurie, enjoy your great italian.
From Karin Lin
Posted on July 24, 2006 at 9:00 PM
Congratulations, Laurie! You and the Italian make a beautiful couple. And Robert is such a great guy. Yay for husbands "who get it"!
From Eileen Geriak
Posted on July 24, 2006 at 9:19 PM
Ohmygosh.....that's IT ! I am in love with my violin !
It's a beautiful old german gentleman with a high arch and wonderfully masculine tone...the G is awesome all the way down the board !
He's about 250 years old, has a few very well repaired cracks, the top doesn't match the rest of it, I have NO idea who the maker was and niether does anyone he's gorgeous and sweet and can hold a note to infanatum...even when "I" play !
Thank you Laurie, for helping me realize what this incredible feeling is that I have for this instrument I've had the prividedge of consorting with ! I had no idea, truley....that it is LOVE ! :D
Congrats on your engagement Laurie...I may never know if a marraige will happen for me...the ole gent belongs to someone else, who has allowed me the use of him, since no one in her family has any interest. She was going to sell him to me, but couldn't at the last minute..belonged to a favorite uncle who is no more (he lived to 103 !) *SIGH*...I can only hope she relents and someday allows the marraige....but if/until then I get to play to my hearts content !
From Laurie Niles
Posted on July 24, 2006 at 10:06 PM
Thanks everybody! Yes, we are very happy together...I got a H.R. Pfretschner bow to go with it actually. I couldn't use my old bow with it, so I traded it in! Thanks to everyone for your support and advice!
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on July 25, 2006 at 5:27 AM
Congratulations, Laurie. You and your new violin look beautiful together. May your marriage be long and happy. Robert is a gem of a supportive husband. I like your remark that you spent a long time mulling over what you felt instantly. I wish you the very best.
From Donna Clegg
Posted on July 25, 2006 at 11:34 AM
Grats - let the "happily ever after begin"!
From Eric Godfrey
Posted on July 26, 2006 at 3:03 AM
Your joy is just beginning. I predict that 10 years from now this will look like one of the best and most important decisions in your life (right up there with marriage, having kids, etc.). Also 20 years, 30 years . . . Congratulations! Enjoy!
From Pieter Viljoen
Posted on July 26, 2006 at 11:45 PM
Congrats on getting a great violin. And you didn't even have to sell Robert like I suggested.

Like Ray said, this can really contribute significantly to your retirement in 30 years. Keep it in good condition, and it will be very good to you.


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