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The Weekend Vote weekend vote: Is your violin from a different country than you are?

January 21, 2011 at 6:58 PM

Violins are more than vehicles for music -- they are also objects with intrinsic worth as art. A handmade fiddle already went through much before it ever made a sound: from seed to tree, standing and growing through weather and seasons, then into the luthier's studio, where it was shaved, molded, varnished, etc.

Where was your fiddle born, in what country? What continent? Was it a different country than your own?

For me, the answer is "yes." I have three fiddles: one came to America from Germany, on a ship with my great-grandparents. It's a factory fiddle, a Strad copy. Another, the Gagliano I use daily, is from Italy. Yet another, my group-class teaching fiddle, is a Kono violin from Tokyo.

How about you? Please answer the poll for your primary violin, and then use the comment section to tell about all your fiddle (or fiddles) and how far they traveled to reach your hands.

From Michael Divino
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 7:18 PM


From Marsha Weaver
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 7:12 PM

Both of my violins are from Germany.

My primary violin is an old Conservatory Violin -- somewhere around 100 years old.  It was mail-ordered (probably), and the first owner I've been able to trace was William Plass of Elkhart, Indiana.  I have an old photograph of William, sitting in his back yard (with chickens!) and holding the violin.  William passed away in 1925, and the violin remained in his family until it came to me in 1992.

My second violin is a 3/4-size Bellafina, made in 2004.  It came to me from Woodwind & Brasswind.

Totally love both violins!!  I carry pictures of them in my wallet the way most people carry pictures of their kids!!  :)

From Heather Donnelly
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 7:44 PM

My violin is a Gliga. Made in Romania, purchased in Australia, and now resides in the US with me. :)  

From Janis Cortese
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 7:46 PM

Same with my viola.  Gliga.

From Jo Parker
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 8:20 PM

 English violin, I am 'half' english and live in England :)

From Laurie Niles
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 8:26 PM

 Heather, so far you win for the most continents in your story!

From Christina C.
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 8:28 PM

'nother German, here

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 8:36 PM

 My violin was made in China and set up in the US, where I bought it.

From Jim Hastings
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 9:17 PM

Three handmade instruments.  Primary fiddle made in Germany, 1883.  Others made in Germany, 1869; France, 1921.  Not sure how far they've traveled -- or to what places -- between newborn stage and the time I acquired them here in USA.

From Christian Vachon
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 9:34 PM


I am Canadian, live in Canada, and have the pleasure of playing on a spectacular Canadian violin and Canadian bow.  I guess we're all made in Canada!


From Steve Reizes
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 9:50 PM

One from Prague (Bohemia), one from Vienna (Austria) and one cheapie from somewhere on the planet earth...

From Thomas Cooper
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 10:21 PM

My Violin is from a lutheir in Germany. It was made in the 1920's.

My viola was made in Prague in the 50's


From Emily Liz
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 10:39 PM

My first violin was from Prague. My current violin is from Cremona. She was part of a traveling exhibition, and she is way better traveled than I am! I fell in love with her before I found out where she was from, but it is a cool connection, because I love the history of great old instruments, and so many of the great ones hail from Cremona. I love being part of a tradition that stretches back 400 years. I'm her first player, so I was able to email the maker and thank him for his wonderful work. He wrote me back an awesome note even though he doesn't speak much English.

From Rae-ann Heinrich
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 10:49 PM

 My wonderful violin was made in the US, in Connecticut in 2008, by Mark Langdale Hough.  It's a Strad copy and fits me perfectly.  Mark won a certificate of merit for workmanship in the 2010 VSA competition.

From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 11:24 PM

Chinese, set up in California.  Where are all the other Chinese violin owners?  There must be tons!

From Juan Manuel Ruiz
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 11:26 PM

Well, you can count me there. I'm Argentinian and own a humble Chinese student violin (Cremona SV-150, to be more specific. I have to find a more elegant name for it. And a more elegant bow...)

From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 11:27 PM

Karen--all along I thought Carlo Lamberti was made in Germany!  I'm renting an Ifshin "Jay Haide a l'anicienne" right now and even though they don't say it's made in China, I'm pretty sure its story is similar to that of the Carlo Lamberti.  Johnson Strings rent them--have you compared the two lines? 

From Malik Chaney
Posted on January 21, 2011 at 11:56 PM

 My violin is a 19th century German copy of 1738 Strad, and I love her very, very, very much. And oddly enough, I found her in my school.

From Millie Bartlett
Posted on January 22, 2011 at 12:55 AM

 My primary violin is an 1864 Neuner and Hornsteiner, made in an early 'factory' in Mittenwald Germany, which means it was made by hand by a line up of men and passed from one to another to have all the pieces put together.  Interestingly, although I was born in Australia, my parents were German, so I feel that it has 'come home'.

My other violin is a JTL made in France, sometime during the 1900's. It was my old violin from my student days and I never liked it much, but I've recently had it revamped and now it's a toss up as to which violin sounds better. I can't make up my mind and keep switching between the two.  And yes, I'm also guilty of having a photo of my violins on my phone instead of my children.  I show everyone I know.  It's terribly sad!

From Anna Meyer
Posted on January 22, 2011 at 1:06 AM

 My violin Mya is chinese. I´m Scandinavian so my violin came a pretty long way but I love my chinese instrument (ViolMaster). Once a fellow violinist told me she´d heard Chinese violins were terrible and I was very offended on behalf of my violin. I love having an instrument that has come such a long way and I like my violin´s Chinese "nationality". 

From Mendy Smith
Posted on January 22, 2011 at 2:22 AM

My viola is from the Pacific Northwest - Phoenix, Oregon.

It might explain why she sounds better when it is raining :)

From Helen Harvey
Posted on January 22, 2011 at 3:03 AM

#1 from Chicago, USA, 1907

#2 from France via Sears Roebuck, the chinrest is post WWII - West Germany.

From Anthony Barletta
Posted on January 22, 2011 at 3:08 AM

Romania - born in 2000.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on January 22, 2011 at 3:53 AM

I'm in the same situation as Christian...

My violin (2007) and me are Canadians (both frenchies ; )  I absoluntly love it! 

Though I guess it's made with Italian technique because my makers studied there.    My bow is the only foreign...from German.  But I love it too of course ; )      

Christian, who made your violin? Maybe we have the same makers? 

Interesting topic! 


From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on January 22, 2011 at 4:05 AM

Not only violins travel alot but also professional musicians...   

Perhaps we would have another interesting discussion if we asked about teachers! 

I suspect many students may have a teacher from elsewhere Europe, Asia, United States etc  Sometimes that can make funny stories due to cultural differences/ language issues/ problems to understand instructions  

From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on January 22, 2011 at 4:22 AM

Mendy, Who made your viola?  My in-laws live in a town one over from Phoenix, so I was aware of John Hill in Phoenix.  But you've had yours for many years.

From Susan Jeter
Posted on January 22, 2011 at 5:09 AM


From Julian Stokes
Posted on January 22, 2011 at 7:43 AM

I'm told she's probably a German, made around the late 19th Century - in a factory.

From John Pierce
Posted on January 22, 2011 at 2:51 PM

The one I play on most is about 120 - 125 years old (best I can figure).  It's a Roth & Lederer, which my research indicates was out of Markneukirchen, in the time range of 1880 - 1890.

It came to me from a great uncle's sister.  My folks bought it for me for $25 -- let go so low, because the seller was happy to have it put to use.  It had belonged to her late husband, who did both classical pieces and fiddling -- he had a bow for each.

It's been played a lot.  The fingerboard is pretty worn.  Corners are knocked off.  There's a spot on the back where the old-fashioned case rubbed through the varnish, and someone tried to patch it up (no, not me -- that was before I got it).

I has a four-piece back(!), so I would not class it as top-tier instrument.  Still, it sounds GREAT!  And since sound is what I'm after, that's the one I play most.

From Christian Vachon
Posted on January 22, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Hi Anne-Marie,

My current violin was made in 2010 by the Ottawa luthier Guy Harrison.  It's a sensational fiddle (it's only weakness is me on some days! LOL!).  My bow was made by Michael Vann.  It is a beautiful bow which compliments this violin very well.  I also have an old German bow which has had a difficult life but also is a nice playing bow.

Just out of curiosity, who made your violin?


From John Gibson
Posted on January 22, 2011 at 4:35 PM

 My primary instrument is an Bisiach from Italy, but I also have an old French violin that is unlabeled. It's neat to see where everyone gets their fiddles from.

From Randy Walton
Posted on January 22, 2011 at 5:53 PM

Mine was born in France in 1842. Her father was Didier Nicolas. She has received numerous accolades for her beautiful singing voice , in fact,  the luthier who installed a new bridge and soundpost said it was the best sounding violin he had ever played and he does a lot of gigging with different violins from the shop.  She very nearly escaped my possession of her.

The Davidson county ( Nashville, Tn.) school board  had decided back in '98 to reinstate its orchestral program. They acquired my violin along with others for a tryout period. The violins were returned and the shop was told that they had decided to go with cheaper Chinese fiddles. It was about ten days later they contacted my luthier and said they had made up their minds to buy my violin for their program and maybe others but they specifically wanted mine. The luthier said it made him feel really good to tell them that he had already sold it. He told me this story a few years after she became mine.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on January 22, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Hi Christian, nice to know! 

Mine was made by Thérèse Girard and Jean-Benoit Stensland in Montreal in 2007.  Both studied in Cremona and they make excellent violins too with big projection, warmth and easy to play (that's how I would decribe them)  

I think we are quite lucky in Canada than more and more good makers appear...

I also consider that I'm the only problem when it doesn't work out...    Perhaps I'm a bigger problem than you ; )  but I still enjoy playing that violin so much

From elise stanley
Posted on January 22, 2011 at 10:37 PM

Missed the boat on the poll!

Actually my answer wasn't really there.  I'm actually from a different continent than my violin, not the other way round.  Its from Canada (which is where I am) but I'm from Europe.  My other two full sized violins are likewise from Germany.

OTOH, I now consider Canada home so I guess we are from the same country from an affiliation rather than origin perspective.

Gee, how could such a simple question become so complicated?

From Mendy Smith
Posted on January 23, 2011 at 3:14 AM

Francesca,  It is a John Hill, circa 2002 (purchased in 2006). 

From Kenneth Choo
Posted on January 23, 2011 at 4:48 AM

Chiming in with mine, just for fun:

Primary is a 1994 Brian Lisus (Cape Town, South Africa).

Secondary is an unlabeled old English violin - probably made by an amateur?


From Christopher Liao
Posted on January 23, 2011 at 9:32 AM

One French, one German! :)

From Sherman soothoo
Posted on January 23, 2011 at 2:28 PM

 Hi all,

I got 4 violins, which are from china hehe ^^

The primary violin is from china, commissioned on 10/02/2006 by Anthony Teo and is set up my a local luither in Singapore.

The secondary violin is with my student, its a birds eye maple violin :) also set up in Singapore.

The third violin, i am asking my mentor to help me sell the violin away.

Lastly, the fourth violin was made in china and set up in the states, its a nicholas parola violin :)



From marjory lange
Posted on January 23, 2011 at 6:22 PM

 I'm the guardian of a Larry Marcel viola, made in Oak Harbor, WA, in 2006 and a 1909 violin that says it was made in Italy for Wm. Lewis & Son, but my violin maker and I agree that, in this case, Italy was a suburb of Chicago.  No matter, I love them both.

From Rosalind Porter
Posted on January 23, 2011 at 7:19 PM

I'm "owned" by 2 violins:

Johannes is Dutch, born in The Hague - Holland in 1784

Charles is French - born in Paris around 1900 or so.

If only violins could talk - what stories they would tell...!

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on January 23, 2011 at 8:56 PM

"I'm "owned" by 2 violins"

That's cute...  

Hope they take good care of you ; ) 

From Brian Hong
Posted on January 23, 2011 at 11:45 PM

 I've got an absolutely phenomenal Sannino school Italian violin from Naples, circa 1900.

From Charles Yoh
Posted on January 24, 2011 at 4:58 AM

 This is great hearing about everyone's instrument.  I've used 4 violins in my lifetime.  I started on a 3/4 size factory violin from Taiwan.  It was really bad, but I didn't know any better.  I then moved onto a 4/4 from Taiwan again, I think.  My next instrument I used was a student violin from Germany.  The label says Artur Teller 1983.  I used that one for probably 20 years.  My current instrument is also German.  It was made circa 1940 by a luthier named Paul Knorr.   It sounds great most of the time and really projects.  My only beef is that it is too loud sometimes.  Or maybe I just don't know how to play quietly!

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on January 24, 2011 at 2:35 PM

 Francesca, I thought I read that the Carlo Lamberti line was made in China and then set up by Shar in the US, but maybe I misread.  I tried a Jay Haide a l'ancienne and I loved the sound but wasn't crazy about the appearance.  I think they do a good job on the appearance of the Lambertis, in addition to the sound, and I just thought if I liked to look at it too, I'd be more likely to take it out of its case and practice it!  That has turned out to be true.  I'm still very happy with my "new" violin after almost 2 years.

From Karina Vilarrubi
Posted on January 24, 2011 at 6:06 PM

My violin was made in Germany in 1823, and in 1943 it underwent some repairs in NYC.

From Michael Flamang
Posted on January 24, 2011 at 9:11 PM

I would love to know just a little more about where my violin came from.  The appraiser and his associates think it came from eastern europe and was probably made in the early 19th century.  I picked it up from my the estate of my father-in-law who was an accomplished violinist and grew up in New York City. It has the nicks and bruises of its years but it sounds great when someone good plays it.

From Jon Hess
Posted on January 24, 2011 at 9:16 PM

 One french, 1850. One german 2004.

Posted on January 24, 2011 at 9:32 PM

I have ten violins !!!  Yes, I am a collector just in case someone didn't notice.  The very, very best of my violins was made in China ... yes, in China !!!  There are many simplistic people that have the prejudice that everything made in China is junk and they don't realize that there are fantastic high-end violins made in this country. One of my violins was made in the "great" Germany. Its cost was at least twice the price of my first class chinese violin, and to tell you the truth, my chinese violin is infinitely better than the german one ! I have noticed that many inhabitants of the United States of America tend to believe that everything made in Italy or in Germany (or in the USA) is necessarily better than things made in China. That is a prejudice !  Yes, there are many junk products made in China, but there are also many junk merchandise made in the USA and in Italy, for example, and in the other hand, there are fantastic violins made in china ! It's just a matter of being open-minded.

From Donald Hurd
Posted on January 25, 2011 at 12:22 AM

My violin is labeled G. Greenburini, Berlin.  I've never been able to learn anything more about it.  It's about a hundred years old.  Has anyone come across this maker?  Thanks!

From Louise Pallet
Posted on January 25, 2011 at 6:48 AM

I collect violins and they are mostly Italian, french, german and Swiss and although I live in South Africa, I bought a beautiful South African violin in Zurich which was originally stolen in South Africa. It is a strange story, because it was such a rare piece made from Maroela wood, which is a South African wood, and too heavy for violins, I traced the maker after months of research and found him.It was the third violin ,he made. He was so excited that I had it, he wanted to buy it back for a lot of money but I did not want to part with it because of its rarity. He never told me the story how it was stolen when he moved house.When he died last year ,I contacted the family and they told me the story, They told me that he thought it had found an exceptional home, and he was happy it was mine.If I had known ,I would have given it to him.

From Louise Pallet
Posted on January 25, 2011 at 6:59 AM

Another strange story is a violin from Aruba, my sister found it from an old violinist, it has not been played for over 70 years, as no one in the family plays. It is a beauty made in Aruba (Caribbean) It plays beautyfully and I have never been able to trace its maker.It must be about 140 years old

From Shari Ebert
Posted on January 25, 2011 at 9:19 AM

My violin, Tony, is from Cremona, Italy, and will be celebrating his 200th birthday this year. My 2nd violin, George, is from Germany and was born around 1900. I'm happy to see that others name their instruments...thought I was the only one!!! :D

From Andrew Sords
Posted on January 25, 2011 at 8:57 PM

 Belgium, 1912 :)

From Jenny Fischer
Posted on January 27, 2011 at 12:24 AM

My violin says he was made in France circa 1890. The maker is unknown.  A knowledgeable person has suggested he might actually be from Mittenwald, Germany. He's a Guarneri copy. I named him Jaques. He sings beautifully, so he had to have a sexy French name. Even if he's not French, he thinks he is. He really belongs to my dad, but my dad let me take him to school with me.

I also have a 2009 Snow viola from China. Her name is Mei Li. Google translator says that's Chinese for "Beautiful." I just got her not too long ago. She's come with me to one gig so far and has done a wonderful job. I am currently suffering a shoulder injury, so unfortunately I haven't been able to play with her much, but one of these days she'll get more attention. Poor baby.

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