The beginning of this month marked the thirtieth anniversary for me and my viola made by Hiroshi Iizuka. Earlier this year I also acquired an Iizuka violin made out of bird's eye maple. Both are in the picture above.
I was really fortunate to get such an instrument at the age of twelve! My viola teacher, Emanuel Vardi, had recently gotten one of Iizuka's instruments and recommended I get one, too.
To celebrate our anniversary, I offered to play any of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas (on the viola, of course!) before our already-planned duo recital on the 16th. Twenty-one years earlier-- and on my twenty-first birthday-- I had performed the complete set of Sonatas and Partitas from memory, so this seemed like the right unaccompanied music with which to celebrate this occasion.
We held an online vote the week before, and the audience really put me to the test! I ended up playing the Prelude and Fugue from the Third Sonata and the Chaconne from the Second Partita. If you missed our concert, here is part of the live and unedited performance:
Hiroshi Iizuka was born in Maebashi, Japan on July 21, 1945. He apprenticed in Tokyo under Soroku Murata, Geigenbaumeister, from 1971 to 1973. From 1973 to 1977, Iizuka apprenticed under and worked for Josef Kantuscher, Geigenbaumeister, in Mittenwald, Germany. He acquired a Journeyman’s diploma from the German Chamber of Handwork in 1974, with a prize for the violin made for the examination.
Iizuka established his own shop in Pennsylvania in the United States in 1977. Since then, he has worked predominantly in the building of new instruments. Besides the traditional style of violin-family instruments, he developed his own model of a “viola d’amore” style viola in 1979, and the “rubenesque” model in 1992. Iizuka has made more than 380 instruments that are being played worldwide, over half of which are violas. He has made 7 celli to date. His instruments are played by many well-known soloists and chamber musicians, as well as in leading orchestras worldwide.
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