There is a man in Seattle who collects violins...
I first heard of David Fulton a while back, when I first interviewed James Ehnes. At the time, Ehnes had just come out with an album called Homage, which celebrated 12 of the finest violins and violas ever made by Stradivari, del Gesu, Guarneri, Bertolotti and Guadagnini.
Who owned these violins? The answer was David Fulton, an amateur violinist and founder of Fox Software, which was purchased in the early 1990s by Microsoft. Now living in Seattle, he had a impressive instrument collection -- some 22 instruments at that time -- that he had been building ever since he caught the bug in the early 1980's.
It would seem that Fulton caught that bug from Dr. William Sloan, who is a friend of mine, and a friend to many violinists and violin makers across the globe. Sloan is the Los Angeles-based urologist who owns the 1714 "Leonora Jackson" Stradivari and a 1742 Guarneri Del Gesu. Sloan has also made several violins himself, and he throws an annual Handel Messiah reading party that I've attended and written about many times here on Violinist.com.
In Fulton's words, Sloan is a "certifiable fiddle nut." Knowing Dr. Sloan, I can attest to that. The two met in college, at the University of Chicago, where both played in the University Symphony. Fulton was the concertmaster, but neither of them was a music major. They actually became good friends some 20 years later, when they found themselves living in Toledo, Ohio and recognized each other while attending an opera performance. At that time, Sloan was contemplating his first Strad purchase from Bein and Fushi of Chicago, and Fulton went along for the ride, literally. Soon later, Fulton bought a 1698 Pietro Guarneri of Mantua violin for more than the price of his home, and he has been collecting ever since.
I met Fulton and his wife, Amy, in October, after a recital at Dr. Sloan's house. After a nice conversation, Fulton said, "If you are ever in Seattle, come by and see my violins." I wasn't sure if he was serious. After all, I'm not exactly James Ehnes or Joshua Bell or the late Isaac Stern - all personal friends of Fulton's. Nonetheless, I decided that if I ever were in Seattle, a place I'd only visited once, I would certainly make an effort to come see the Fultons and those fiddles -- and make a report for everyone!
As fate would have it, just a few months later my son announced that he wanted to attend a youth film festival in Seattle called NFFTY, which would be screening two of his films. Robert and I decided to go along -- and to factor in an extra day to see the sights.
For me, seeing the sights meant: 1. good coffee and 2. Fulton's fiddles. Keep reading...Tweet Comments (10)
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