Bisiach Family Heritage

January 11, 2007 at 05:27 AM · for all the violin enthusiasts, check out this enlightening article from 1983 by Philip Kass formerly of Moennigs about one of the most influential makers of the early 20th century who influenced several generations of great makers including Romeo & Riccardo Antoniazzi, Gaetano Sgrabotto, Sesto Rocchi, iginius Sderci, Giuseppe Ornati, Ferdinando & Afro Garimberti and G. Lucci.

this is a cool website

Replies (24)

January 11, 2007 at 11:37 AM · Thanks for that Gennady, interesting articles.


January 12, 2007 at 12:50 AM · The Bisiach's instruments are truly amazing, the son's perhaps not quite as good as the father. I've seen marvellous examples go through auction, not even that long ago, for around $10,000. I've heard both good and not so good comments regarding the sound of the Bisiach's instruments. I remember that I used to think that anything built so beautifully has to sound beautiful too. Unfortunately this is not always the case.

January 12, 2007 at 07:57 AM · Rick,

Here is a link to Maestronet

which lists some auction prices.

In June 1994 one fiddle sold for $44,275.00

Another is Tarisio:

Bisiach, Leandro Violin 1910

Tarisio May-2003 $43,125

Bisiach, Carlo Violin Florence, 1924

Christie's NY Apr-2004 $41,825

Perhaps you should get up to date.

January 12, 2007 at 09:49 AM · retail prices are even higher, even so, I think that response is a bit salty for someone who frequently poses as a victim of insult.

January 12, 2007 at 10:17 AM · huh?????

Rick stated:

" I've seen marvellous examples go through auction, not even that long ago, for around $10,000"

I've pointed out most recent auction results which shows otherwise (no salt or sarcasm here).

You starting again Pieter?

Like you recently said to Michael D.

" don't be such an ass".

January 12, 2007 at 04:11 PM · "Perhaps you should get up to date."

Here in America, that's not seen as being very polite. But it's ok Gennady, you're always right, as we all know.

January 12, 2007 at 04:57 PM · Pieter,

If you wish to contribute something to this thread other than ironic sarcasm, you may do so, otherwise don't bother.

January 12, 2007 at 08:45 PM · On market prices: I've seen a few at $65k, one at $68k just last summer, and one at $85k, which seemed a bit high.

I think this information is reasonably up to date.


January 12, 2007 at 10:41 PM · Hi Gennady,

Let's face it, we all know that 'price is what price is'. I like to look at other factors than simply relatively current pricing, which usually only arms the hopefuly buyer with dread. Trends, post-auction price lists (only a very small percentage of these make it into maestronet), and, often, word of mouth from dealers are better choices for knowledge gathering when it comes to pricing than 'up to date' prices. There really is no such thing as a general up to date price for any maker's violins KG (excluding current makers of course, though not all of them). Violin prices will vary as to particular maker, particular instrument and dozens of other factors. Every instrument is unique. Thinking otherwise, and at the very most, you'll wind you up with a fairly large and constantly shifting range.

So knowledge of the specific instruments (violin books definitely are helpful here), knowledge of the particular maker, detailed condition reports or examination, word of mouth from players/dealers, and a keen interest in history also facilitate knowledge gathering in determining a price.

If one doesn't do this, then you are merely propagating the status quo of any given information source. And unfortunately this is done all too often.

Note that, taking maestronet for example, for Bisiach reports in the last 9 years the trend they are reporting is actually a downward pricing trend. Is that, as per your pricing quote from them Gennady, to be seen as something realistic?

I use all the above-mentioned sources, and others. For instance, I often use the Auction Red Book. It cost around $400 but it is excellent on pricing and it has information that you sometimes just won't find on the net. So generally, I think one has to consider as complete as history of pricing as possible for

prospective instruments.

I'll occasionally use maestronet (which are fairly flakey in their reporting), tarisio (sometimes good, sometimes bad, and they aren't always exceptionally forthcoming about condition so you really need to be there as compared to the main European auction houses which will give

excellent detailed condition reports, pics, provenance, and further information when asked --though this has been changing over the last couple of years I've been buying through them and this bothers me), and various other sources, as stated, for determining information if need be.

G&L Bisiach -- 2001 -- 2 sold at around $12K -- and these were good examples of their work. And, believe it or not, the $10k (approx.) prices I remember from the european auctions over the last few years that I've participated in. One factor I use Bisiach violins for in my determinations of pricing is their great influence, as I think you mentioned Gennady, on 20th C and contemporary Italian makers. They can be considered, in many ways, the gold standard of such instruments.

Btw, I'm definitely not suggesting that $10k is the price one should pay for any Bisiach, I think my point here is nowhere near such a statement. In short, I would suggest that anyone planning on buying or selling a quality instrument do their homework, as crystal balls can be very frustrating.

January 12, 2007 at 10:47 PM · Rick - How do you do the homework? We are in the market for a better violin. We can't really spend too much time looking around. What are the disanvantages of just going to a couple of reputable shops, play some, check with the teacher, and buy what sounds/feels best? Thanks.


January 12, 2007 at 11:46 PM · Rick,

I gave a quick example (maestronet) for your perusal, and I agree with you that they are not up to date at all.

I too use the Red Book.

And the best examples of Bisiach's work Leandro and Carlo, have fetched the most in the last couple of years, as my examples above state.

Now there are times when fiddles come up in auction that are attributed to Bisiach, it is those fiddles that sell for considerably less.

It is why I always recommend quality certification, when looking for instruments.

BTW, auction prices do not reflect Market prices.

And yes there is a ball park figure on every given instrument.

Many factors determine the price, such as condition, the best example of a maker, provenance etc. etc. etc.

There is nothing wrong in going to a reputable shop and seeing what they've got.

Because when time comes to upgrade, these are the same people you will deal with. They will also be there for you to keep the instrument in working order with repairs and sound adjustment etc.

Decent instruments can be purchased from auctions, but the risks are higher than it's worth.

BTW Rick,

Just last year a Bisiach, Leandro Violin Milan, 1897 sold at Bonhams (Feb-2005) for $68,445

Must have been a fine example no doubt. I am sure it went to a player, seeing the final price.............

January 12, 2007 at 11:48 PM · Gennady - Thanks for the assurance. Ihnsouk

January 13, 2007 at 02:55 AM · you know since you are in PA, you could pay a visit to William Moennig & Son, Ltd., at 2039 Locust Street, near Rittenhouse Square in downtown. One of the best shops on the East Coast (IMO).

I know that they always have a great collection on hand.

January 19, 2007 at 06:00 PM · Thank you for the good article.

February 10, 2007 at 11:17 PM · Is anybody familiar withe the quality of his cellos and what they go for?Thanks

February 11, 2007 at 05:58 AM · There is one going on ebay for 15K which is the same instrument going on netinstruments for 8000 Euros.

Very interesting?!..........

Authentic cellos by G & Leandro Jr. are almost double of the price of their fiddles.

If you are in Europe, you should inquire with the dealers of what the market prices are like there.

At the same time you could ask if that instrument is authentic or not. I believe its located in Hungary.

If it is authentic, grab it.

Then again, if it's not, don't bother.

February 11, 2007 at 05:01 PM · I'm sure I'll be out of the loop when I say this, but I have yet to try a Bisiach that I really like. EVERY time I try one I am unsatisfied. What's with that? Of all the Bisiach's I've played (which is many) I've felt they were all GROSSLY overpriced for how they sound. Pretty and nice to look at (if not a little safe looking), but ovepriced.


February 11, 2007 at 06:37 PM · It's all a matter of how fiddles are set up.

It took me a while before my Vuillaume opened up.

Now it's a great fiddle as it was long ago.

Some fiddles have not been played on for a long time, and need a breaking in period as well.

Unlike new instruments, the breaking in period (with older instruments) seems shorter though.

Have you tried Anotniazzi, Sgarabotto, Ornati, Garimberti?

They produced some great fiddles.

All of whom worked for Bisiach.

February 11, 2007 at 07:06 PM · Preston,

I tried a Bisiach in L.A. which was ok, but then I realized that for the money, I could get the same sound for much less, and that sound isn't even what I'm after in the first place.

Pretty much every Bisiach has been a dissapointment for me. I once played an Ornati which I thought was divine, but at the time there was no way for me to buy it. Now it apparently belongs to some guy in Shanghai. I've played 2 other Ornatis, one of them apparently regraduated which was nice, but not something I'd be willing to pay the price for. The other was incredibly dissapointing.

February 11, 2007 at 07:00 PM · Yes, I've tried those. Most of the instruments I've tried were very well set up. I can't say whether or not they were needing to be broken in (not aware of their playing history), but Ornati and Sgarabotto I was mildly happy with. One specific Ornati was more surprising than the Sgarabotto's. I honestly can't remember my reaction to the Antoniazzis, so I'm guessing I wasn't ever blown away.

*later* I see Pieter had a similar experience

Anyway, I've been more impressed with some living makers violins (especially when comparing prices) than I have been with the semi-modern Italians which typically have a much higher price.

February 11, 2007 at 07:44 PM · I have tried a great many instruments old & new.

I can tell you from my experience that there are fiddles by Fagnola, Fiorini, Poggi, Ornati, Garimberti, Sgarabotto, Gadda, Bignami and Bisiach that are outstanding.

February 11, 2007 at 08:35 PM · Thanks,Gennady.

February 11, 2007 at 08:38 PM · BTW Preston and Pieter,

Aaron Rosand owns several A. Poggi violins.

He always had his double case with the Kochansky Del Gesu and the Poggi side by side.

June 7, 2008 at 06:22 PM · My teacher plays on a Leandro Bisiach. It has a handwritten note inside it. The violin is very light, and has a beautiful and strongly robust sound.

She lets me play it on occasion.

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