Modern Instrument Makers and Players

November 7, 2009 at 04:16 AM ·

I am interested in learning what players (professional soloists or quartets) play or have played on instruments by modern makers as their primary instrument at some time during their career.  For instance:

Emerson Quartet - Peter Drucker played and has recorded on a Samuel Zygmuntowicz.

Elmar Oliveira - Played and recorded on a Michael Koberling; and has played on a Salt lake City maker mentioned (but not named) in another thread

Chsritian Tetzlaff - Has played and has recorded on a Peter Greiner

I hope this has not been the subject of a previous thread, and welcome a "refer back" if that is the case.  Thank you in advance for any information you are willing to provide.

Replies (26)

November 7, 2009 at 01:10 PM ·

Anne-Sophie Mutter plays and has recorded (Recital 2000) with her Finnigan. She also owns violinds from Regazzi, Spidlen and Greiner.

November 7, 2009 at 09:56 PM ·

The Emersons all have items of Zygmuntowicz and I gather will use them all at once.  The Alexander String Quartet uses a matched set of Francis Kuttner instruments.  And the Carpe Diem Quartet is 75% on the way to being a Kurt Widenhouse group.   The Miro Quartet famously used as set of Ratavins, two of which have been replaced by other moderns.

The SLC maker used by Oliveira is


November 8, 2009 at 11:30 AM ·

The list of living makers who had their instruments used by top pros and soloists is too big.

November 8, 2009 at 06:52 PM ·

Instruments made by Christian Bayon, french maker established in Lisbon, Portugal are played by:

Tedi Papavrami, soloist, ex player of a JB Guadagnini violin, playing only his modern instrument since 2005.

Michal Kanka, soloist, cellist of the Prazak Quartet, ex player of the Grancino ex-Gendron, playing a cello by Christian Bayon since 2006 for all concerts and recordings.

Pavel Gomziakov, soloist, he made a CD with Maria João Pirès, Chopin cello sonata (Deutsche Grammophon), Playing a Christian Bayon since 2008. He will play the Haydn cello concerto (C major) with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Trévor Pinnock in 2010

Silvia Simionescu, viola player, chamber music, teacher at Basel Musikhochschule, play a viola by Christian Bayon since 2003.


November 9, 2009 at 12:05 AM ·

Very nice instruments Christian! I liked your oil varnish and models too, congrats!

Um Frances em Portugal, ora pois!!!


November 9, 2009 at 09:07 AM ·

Obrigado Luis. I´m in Portugal since 20 years!

November 9, 2009 at 11:39 AM ·

The list is awfully long, if we include "major" orchestra principals. Off the top of my head, here are a few, present or former modern users. I'm not completely sure what the definition of a "primary" instrument is, so I'll take it to mean that they have been used for performances or recording in some significant way:

Glenn Dicterow;

two of the Guarneri Quartet;

part or all of the Miro quartet;

the Layfayette quartet;

part of the Shanhai quartet;

associate concertmaster, Detroit;

principal and associate viola, Detroit;

principal cello, Carolina;

the founding cellist in the Emerson quartet;

Dylana Jenson;

principal cello, Utah;

former principal cello, San Francisco;

the De Pasquale brothers, Philadelphia;

Richard Aaron;

assistant concertmaster, Carolina.

These are just a few that come to mind, having had contact with them, so I'm sure it's just a drop in the bucket.

November 11, 2009 at 02:48 AM ·

Thank you all very much for your responses!  Your answers are a tremendous help to me and I appreciate you taking the time to answer.

November 11, 2009 at 11:34 PM ·

I know a couple of famous people who own (or were gifted) modern instruments and pretty much never use it... How come? But there are some people who use / used moderns as main instruments, and even have recorded with them, Oliveira (Joachim Concerto on a Curtin/Alf) Friedman (Mendelssohn/Tschaikovsky, his last recording, I think, on a Curtin), Kaler (who owned only a Curtin as I've heard him)  and Raphael Oleg (Brahms conc. recording on an French maker I've forgotten the name) spring to my mind.

And completely off-topic: Is amazing how orchestra musicians are the real "stars" today... So I have to like modern instruments because a nameless 3rd concertmaster of an orchestra I never heard about plays one? Here in the "3rd World" it's even worse, a lot of "soloists" performing or "conductors" conducting whose only reference is havin' been 5th tubist of the Berlin Philarmonic, "done a gig" with the LSO or being concertmaster somewhere in the U.S. where the coyotes & roadrunners say each other good night... Why?       

November 12, 2009 at 01:47 AM ·

In looking for a great modern ( a few years now) I had the chance to learn a lot, and listen a lot. I aslo met some great players, including the guys who tried so many moderns here in Southern Callifornia. And I owe a lot of gratitude to this site because I met those guys through here.


Some moderns, played by world class players, that I have heard live and on tape that have impressed me: Jenson on a Zygmontowicz, Ricci on a Curtin and a Bellini, Holland on a Needham and a Curtin, Boucher on a Needham and Curtin, Chudnovsky on a Needham, Tetzlaff on a Greiner, Rosand on a Widenhouse,  Kahler on a Curtin, Vlasenko on a Zygmontwicz, and Ricci on a Dilworth, just off the top of my head! 


When I  listened to these players I realized that I was listening to world class players who are very much in the class of the more recognized names: Chang, Repin, Bell, Perlman, etc. And that the sound they were producing was very much that of the Changs, Repins, Bells, and Perlmans of the world. 


I think this says a lot about the great makers out there and how close they are getting to Strad and del Gesu. 


One more note: A great way to see what the great soloists think of the great moderns is to see what they use as "back up" fiddles. When I did that research I came up with Zygmontowicz more than not (Bell, Reppin, etc.). I am not saying that his means a lot or means little, i am just stating a fact that some may find helpful.


Finally please note that I am not making a case for moderns being as good or not as good as the old masters. Nor am I making a case for "who" are the best modern makers out there. I am simply telling you about some of my experience in this exciting adventure with the hope that it helps someone out there, and the belief that what I have written is very much in line with this thread.

November 12, 2009 at 08:59 AM ·


Great post! And kudos for having listened to so many good violinists! From your list I would like to comment on Ricci, who IMO keeps his characteristic sound on any instrument: I had the opportunity to listen to him play a couple of times and it was really difficult to guess what instrument he was playing. Also I preferred  to mention violinist / instrument "packages" that I did really like, makes my list more one-sided, but at least it brought new names to the thread... 

And for instance the off-topic part of my post shouldn't be seen as case against modern makers: I even own and play a modern instrument by a maker mentioned above and it's the best solution for me, actually, also because new instruments have no repairs, and even the usual crack in the right f-hole (from setting up the soundpost, I believe) in old instruments can become a real problem in the local climate.

November 12, 2009 at 09:20 AM ·

Raphael Oleg plays on a Jacques Fustier since many years . It is his only instrument.

November 12, 2009 at 12:20 PM ·

Thanks! Yes, Jacques Fustier was it... Great sounding violin, at least in Oleg's hands!

November 14, 2009 at 10:32 PM ·

Claudio mahle wrote:

"And completely off-topic: Is amazing how orchestra musicians are the real "stars" today... So I have to like modern instruments because a nameless 3rd concertmaster of an orchestra I never heard about plays one? Here in the "3rd World" it's even worse, a lot of "soloists" performing or "conductors" conducting whose only reference is havin' been 5th tubist of the Berlin Philarmonic, "done a gig" with the LSO or being concertmaster somewhere in the U.S. where the coyotes & roadrunners say each other good night... Why?"


I don't know much about how things work in the "3rd World", and I don't recall ever seeing a genuine roadrunner here in the States, but I hope you're not belittling some orchestra musicians, studio musicians, quartet musicians, teachers, along with some others who have the chops to be soloists, but don't engage that life for one reason or another. There are plenty of gems who aren't thrilled about playing some game which can involve "who you know and who you blow", or who place a higher priority on a solid home life, or a secure tenured position, than upon whatever being a soloist might offer.

Should you buy a modern violin because some sixth tubist in the Obscuria Philharmonic owns one? Heck no! You've stated that you own one, and I'll guess that this is for reasons which you find more compelling. ;-)

November 15, 2009 at 03:06 AM ·

Agreed with David.

I know a fantastic player who's a member of malaysian philharmonic orchestra, who's a graduate of juilliard school under de-lay's education. He can be a soloist anytime, but choosen to be an ordinary "tutti" player. 

November 15, 2009 at 06:16 PM ·

Dear David, ever heard the slogan... "Violin from Cremona..."? I hope you've got me now... And since I also spent 1/2 of  my life playing in 1st and 3rd World orchestras, I've no intention to despise anybody... 

The Filipino guy, proudly "educated" by Mrs. DeLay, plays a fake J.Guadagnini...? Maybe I know him...   

November 16, 2009 at 03:13 AM ·

Dude, while I may not thoroughly understand your response, it appears that you like to jest, and play with semantics, much as I do. If this is true, welcome to our microcosm. :-)

November 19, 2009 at 07:43 PM ·

 I know that the ODEONQUARTET  ( uses two violins by Otello Bignami (1975 & 1976), a cello by Bernard Germain (1990) and at this time a viola by Giuseppe Nupieri (1979).


I just saw their concerts in Seattle, it was way cool stuff.

you can see some of their performances on you tube:

November 20, 2009 at 11:19 PM ·

Just a brief note. You may want to compare the two Ricci recordings, "The Glory of Cremona" and "The Legacy of Cremona."

While Ricci's sound is unique and personal (like most great artists he has his own voice) one can hear the differences from one instrument to another. Each musician can draw their own conclusions about the tone qualities of these wonderful instruments, both old and new.

November 21, 2009 at 11:50 PM ·

 For the moment, at least, there is a clip on youtube featuring an excerpt from the Ricci recording .He plays GDG, Da Salo, Bergonzi and Strad

December 5, 2009 at 03:28 PM ·

Dear pals,


Just providing two soloist that haven't mentioned in this topic:


Bin Huang, who plays on a Scott Cao ( her only violin )

( 1st prize winner of Paganini Competition in 1994)


NingFeng, who plays on a Greiner

( 1st prize winner of Paganini Competition in 2006)

December 6, 2009 at 03:30 AM ·

I could be wrong, but I thought Bin Huang plays the ex Panette del Gesu which was formerly played by Isaac Stern.

December 6, 2009 at 09:59 PM ·

No, the Panette is now played by french soloist Renaud Capuçon.

December 6, 2009 at 10:31 PM ·


I tried Tedi's violin from you last time I saw him in Paris. I was very impressed. That violin is quite an achievement in modern violin making! Congratulations.

December 6, 2009 at 11:23 PM ·

Tank you.

December 7, 2009 at 02:30 AM ·

I play on an Alfred Vidoudez that  Szigeti once owned. Some Philadelphia players have used A. Vidoudez violins and a cellist or two is using his cellos professionally. Mine is from 1909 so I'm not sure if you call that modern. I would.

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