Julia Fischer purchases and uses a modern instrument by Augustin

July 24, 2012 at 04:38 AM · Here you find pictures of Julia Fischer's new instrument: http://bit.ly/NpXZJK


Replies (100)

July 24, 2012 at 09:54 AM · Ooooh...it looks heavily antiqued.

Anyways, I'm sure it sounds gorgeous. I'm a big fan of her.

July 24, 2012 at 11:30 PM · looks nice, but I don't like antiquing. Anyways i would love to try that!

July 25, 2012 at 02:28 AM · Good for her, and good for modern making! The very long list of major soloists who have chosen modern violins either as their main inastrument or often enough used and valued back up includes - off the top of my head - Ricci, Stern, Oliveira, Rosand, Friedman, Daniel Heifetz, Kaler, Mutter, Tetzlaff, Kavacos, violist Kim Kaskashian, and members of the Emerson Quartet - and I'm sure more names will come to me. There are wonderful old violins and wonderful new ones.

July 25, 2012 at 02:43 AM ·

July 25, 2012 at 05:12 AM · will she or has she used in actual concerts?

July 25, 2012 at 06:28 AM · yes.


July 25, 2012 at 12:32 PM · Elmar seems to have a sizable collection of violins and bows. I'm not sure what he favors currently, but I know that for some time he was partial to Curtain violins. But he has soloed on other moderns.

Oh, I just reminded myself to add Nadien to the list.

July 25, 2012 at 01:01 PM · Maria Bachman plays on a Sergio Presson. She sounds gorgeous on her recordings.

July 25, 2012 at 01:19 PM · The folks in the Shanghai Quartet use modern instruments for the most part. The first violinist uses a Feng Jiang violin, which he told me sounded as good as much more expensive older instruments he had tried.

July 25, 2012 at 03:10 PM ·

July 25, 2012 at 03:57 PM · Simon writes above of this violin, 'looks nice, but I don't like antiquing'. Same here, but I think antiquing has now become pandemic. If I were to have a violin made, or buy a modern one, I would certainly not want it antiqued. What happened to that nice fresh look that modern violins formerly had?

July 25, 2012 at 04:03 PM · "What happened to that nice fresh look that modern violins formerly had?"

Blame J.B.Vuillaume !

July 25, 2012 at 04:27 PM · Varying levels of interest are interesting in this discussion:

When publishing information about a contemporay violin I have over 200 accesses from v.com to the page with the pics within a day.

When I publish a live concert recording (e.g. http://bit.ly/L1bxq1 ) I get just slightly over 40 accesses from v.com within weeks.

Also the length of threads differs accordingly.

One could summarize: For violinists (on v.com) the internet is an optical rather than acoustical medium?


July 25, 2012 at 05:11 PM · hi FMF,

i think this is due to two things...one, because it takes more time to listen whereas taking a peak is instant. i often use internet that way...quickly...plus i dont have good speakers and dont use headphones a lot. the second is violins are just so purrrrtyyyy. and unless its a solo repertoire (and espeially bach:o) , the violin stands less as an individual thing which we can fetishize..somehow. i bet you, if its solo bach, you might end up getting many more hits so people can relate more to the individuality of the violin in such a testing and discrete field of its own....does that make sense? anyway, just ideas

July 25, 2012 at 05:28 PM · Nicky:

The new look vs old look is just purely personal preference. I will certainly love the look of an old-looking violin on a new violin. It's just like when I play baseball I'll make the helmet dirty... My camera looked pretty beaten up. That's why I'm interesting in Burgess's old toaster :p

July 25, 2012 at 06:03 PM · David Beck wrote:

"Blame J.B.Vuillaume !"

Might as well. I doubt he invented antiquing, but he certainly popularized it, and cranked out tons of antiqued fiddles.

One difference between then and today though:

He was copying about 150 years worth of wear, which can look quite charming. Makers today are often copying more like 300 years of wear. I think there's a point where the charm is lost, and a violin starts to look more like it's been dragged behind a car.

The Lady Blunt Strad, which holds the current auction price record ($16 million), has been used very little and shows very little wear. This typically goes hand-in-hand with value. Why not use violins like that for inspiration when antiquing?

July 25, 2012 at 08:37 PM · Lieber Herr Fischer,

Ich denke es liegt daran, dass die meisten Besucher dieses Forums sich recht schnell durch die Themen klicken und nicht unbedingt bereit sind sich für eine halbe Stunde eine Aufnahme anzuhören. Das kann man ihnen nicht vorwerfen denke ich. Dazu kommt, dass nur ein Teil aktive Geiger sind und ein anderer großer Teil Geigenbauer und Geigenliebhaber.

Sorry, I was lazy:

About the antiquing: I don't understand it at all. I mean I understand why someone wants a violin to look old, but I don't get the musical sense behind that. Why should a good violinmaker spend so much time with the optics, he should better start with the next instrument. And I cannot imagine how an antiqued violin from today will look in 300 years. Like a welll hung sausage!?

July 25, 2012 at 08:55 PM · Right you are: optically you need one or two glances whereas acoustically it needs its time. That's why music is more on the acoustical side ;-)


July 25, 2012 at 09:10 PM · To me this is a bit of a dilemma. I am starting to put money aside towards what hopefully will be more than a step up instrument in about a year. Sorry full time parent with three boys one of which is rapidly approaching college age.

I really do not like the antiquing thing and I think it probably does add to the price (time=money). If I buy a new instrument I want a new looking instrument. But everywhere I look the vast majority of new instruments in my price range are antiqued.

I guess I’m just out of step with the world, again. Though I have heard this is not always the case outside of the States. I hardly have ever left Texas I don’t think I’m going violin shopping elsewhere. I don’t travel well.

If I get a new toaster, I want shinny with a warranty, even if it comes with a violin. I don't want a bunch of artificial bagel crumbs in the bottom.

July 25, 2012 at 09:22 PM · Speaking of the Shanghai Quartet - the other violinist, Yi-Wen Jiang, currently plays on a Vittorio Villa violin which he's very happy with.

As to antiquing, I personally can appreciate both tasteful, warm fresh work that doesn't look like a new car surface, as well as tasteful antiquing that doesn't look like it's been in a bad accident. There's a lot of elbow room.

If we extend our discussion to major violinists whose main instrument is not new, but something other than a Strad or del Gesu, then we have the examples of Hilary Hahn and her Vuillaume, and Gidon Kremer, who traded in his del Gesu for an Amati. There certainly are some truly great Strads and del Gesus - eg Perlman's "Soil" Strad, Rosand's former "Kochansky", etc. But they are also status symbols. I think that for some soloists, it feels like an important adjuct to their prestiege when their bios can include "Mr. X plays on the 'Lord so and so Stradivari" - which may indeed, be a wonderful sounding instrument. But there's the cachet factor as well.

July 25, 2012 at 09:54 PM · Patrick, you didn't say what your price range is, but I agree. I was looking in the $3-$4K range last year and non-antiqued new instruments were rare indeed. I ended up with a 100 year old instrument that was under $3K and is only slightly antiqued. No wormholes or dings, or patches where the varnish is "worn". I sometimes wonder if this "antiquing" isn't natural aging.

July 25, 2012 at 10:48 PM · On my end, it seems that a lot of makers are trying to retreat from both copies, and antiqued instruments. At one time, these features set contemporary hand-make instruments apart from the factory stuff, but now, a lot of the factory stuff coming out of China has a half-decent antiquing job, and is loosely modeled after something or another.

Stradivari and Guarneri mostly did their own thing, and didn't antique, as far as we know. Maybe we're finally getting back to the basics?

July 25, 2012 at 11:26 PM · As far as antiquing goes, I think a lot of makers today do it for people who also want a nice piece of furniture that has aesthetically pleasing features. I've played on a few Vuillaumes and I think it is ridiculous to compare his varnish to some of these modern makers who just antique their violins to the 9th degree. I'm sure this has to effect the sound of a violin to a certain degree. Strads and Guarneris (with wood that has naturally aged and oxidized over time), did not look the same way 300 years ago as they do now.

You're right Raphael, Nadien uses a modern instrument I think by Bellini? He has some other fiddles as well I believe. Nadien was playing on my modern violin by Phillip Injeian the other day at my lesson and it sounded like Nadien. So really a lot of what comes out of the instrument is the player in my opinion.

I recently tried a fine violin by a modern maker in NYC: Jason Viseltear. Fantastic instrument! Have you heard of this maker Raphael? His violin played better than some 'big name' Italian violins I have tried.

Friedman did use a modern violin by Joseph Curtin. I tried it a few times, but did not care for it at all. One of his close friends on the Yale faculty, I remember sarcastically said it was a 'brilliant idea for him to sell his del Gesu and Strad for a Curtin.' :)

July 26, 2012 at 12:05 AM · Hi Nate - didn't know you were working with Nadien! How is he doing? In a video-taped interview, he demonstrated on a Bellini, which he obviously liked. He also has had modern Chinese and others. But hey - you can ask him directly about his collection, if he's inclined to talk about it. I'd love to know!

I heard of Viseltier, but never tried one. In Friedman's video'd recital, he used a Curtain - and for an encore, repeated the 2nd mvt. from the Goldmark on a borrowed Strad. On both, he sounded like Friedman, but I heard differences. The Curtain sounded very clear and focused. The Strad had more spread and more complexity. It wasn't night and day, but very interesting.

July 26, 2012 at 04:24 AM · Hi Raphael, he's doing really well. He's very energetic, demanding and encouraging as a teacher. I learned quite quickly that he does not sound that well by mistake! I will certainly ask him your question the next time I seem him and let you know.

July 26, 2012 at 05:07 AM · Re:- antiquing. The Chinese love 1000-year eggs whereas the Japanese seem to prefer their new violins to have an automobile body-shop finish with electric windows and airbags. (Forget toasters). It's different in the UK. There's not much by way of global consistency as regards taste in this matter.

My local fiddle-dealership finds pristine-finish violins don't sell at all well. I gather the same applies in the USA, although some such as David Burgess bravely continue to make "new" finish.

In my view nice wood worked with precision and accuracy brings about a special sort of beauty. I wonder sometimes what the antiquers are apologising for, hiding their light, as they so often do, under a bushel of gunge.

It should save time and consequently money to produce "new". Years ago the violin specialist at a Manchester (UK) music store would recommend the use of an abrasive pad (brillo) to take the shine off a new violin if you didn't like it. I have yet to find the motivation to try this.

I did once tell the maker of one of my violins that as to antiquing, I intended to "do it myself". . . . but I doubt whether I can live long enough to achieve the ultimate in artistic results.

July 26, 2012 at 05:58 AM · ""About the antiquing: I don't understand it at all. I mean I understand why someone wants a violin to look old, but I don't get the musical sense behind that. Why should a good violinmaker spend so much time with the optics, he should better start with the next instrument.""

All buyers of new Instruments have different demands also in the optical view. I personal make my Violins and Cellos about 75% in the antique look for an simple reason. It is customers wish with the order!

""And I cannot imagine how an antiqued violin from today will look in 300 years. ""

Maybe people get thrilled about this look wich we don`t understand today, as makers 300 years ago wouldn`t understand todays circus.

""He was copying about 150 years worth of wear, which can look quite charming. Makers today are often copying more like 300 years of wear""

But the major part of wear what we see today was done the first 100 years when people played without chin- and shoulderrest and didn`t care of handling so much as we do today. I think the look of the most Strads and del Gesus didn`t change much the last 100 years.

July 26, 2012 at 08:24 AM · interesting string choice btw! is it an PI G, Oliv D? The rest I cant say for sure... anyone?

July 26, 2012 at 10:30 AM · I think the strings are D - Oliv; A - Dominant; E - Kaplan.

I canot clearly indentify the G from the photo. But Violet/white winding on the Tailpiece and yellow on the peg could be Eudoxa.

July 26, 2012 at 11:29 AM ·

July 26, 2012 at 11:55 AM · "I think the look of the most Strads and del Gesus didn`t change much the last 100 years."

That depends. There was one Strad I saw regularly in the 1970s, which has worn so much in the interim that I didn't even recognize it in recent photos. It has about 50% less varnish.

I understand that some clients want antiqued fiddles. My questions are,

"How far does one need to take it to satisfy them"?

"Do we have any responsibility to educate them, like by informing them (and showing them examples in photos) that all other things being equal, the best preserved antiques are the most valuable?" Or do we just follow the downward spiral?

July 26, 2012 at 01:03 PM · Well, it's nice to know that I'm not the only one who uses a Jay Haide as one of his two primary fiddles (anyway, two fiddles are currently my total).

I've had my non-antiqued JH for 10 years from new, the tone is developing well, and it is rapidly becoming my preferred violin for most of my varied playing. It is now entirely gut-strung, with a baroque tail-piece.

My much older violin (18th c German anon?) is 3/4 gut-strung, but with a standard tail-piece. A fine adjuster cannot be fitted to a baroque tail-piece, and a steel E fitted thereto sans adjuster would not be a good idea because it would probably cause the tail-piece to split (as well as upsetting the balance of forces).

July 26, 2012 at 02:48 PM · I know a violin-maker who makes pretty violins. There was one in his shop that had some weird marks on it, and I asked about it. He said that he had been to a workshop on antiquing and what I was holding in my hands was his first attempt. I told him I thought it looked awful, and he said he agreed and he wouldn't be trying that ever again.

July 26, 2012 at 04:49 PM · One good thing about antiqued violins is that if you scratch or mark it in any way then this will just look like 'part of the furniture'. But if something happens to your nice shiny new violin then it is a case of 'Oh no, what have I done ?'

I like both styles of finish. A pristine finish can allow the beautiful grain of the timber to show through and an antiqued violin can also look wonderful if it is done well.

July 26, 2012 at 05:12 PM · solution to the antiquing discussion. Let the player do the antiquing!

July 26, 2012 at 09:02 PM · I don't think it's just customer demand. Different makers, themselves, have different ways that they like to work. Our own David Burgess, if I'm not mistaken, only makes and strongly believes in fresh work. I believe that Curtain and Alf, together and separately, have made mostly or only tasteful antiques. The same with Bellini and Peresson. Ed Maday and Vittorio Villa make violins in a range from fresh, to some shading or soft antiquing to heavy antiquing. The Karinkanta family tends to make heavy antiquing to the point that some - not all - of these new violins look like they've been run over. Sam Z. has said that he's doing more fresh work, though his reputation grew with his antiqued copies. He admitted once though, that being in a room with a bunch of del Gesu copies was a little like being in room full of Elvis impersonators!

I appreciate both, when neither is taken to extremes - no 'new car' look on fresh work or loads of ground-in dirt on antiqued work. With fresh work, I sooner or later give it some genuine 'antiquing' with use and exposure. Yes, the first couple of scratches and nicks are shocking, but eventually they form a pattern, along with some overall patina that antiquing strives for at the beginning - like pre-torn jeans! But with the fresh work the inevitable nicks, etc. are part of the violin's real history, which is meaningful to me. Yet, I cannot deny the charm of a genuine old violin, or a tasteful, convincing antiqued new one.

July 27, 2012 at 01:17 AM · I think the only real justification for antiquing is if you have had made an exact replica of a valuable old instrument which you (and possibly your insurance company) would prefer to keep away from the hurly-burly of concerts and international travel except for special occasions. If the replica is good enough only the player is likely to spot the difference when it is played.

I wonder how many such replicas are around and in use ;)

July 27, 2012 at 01:33 AM ·

July 27, 2012 at 02:58 AM · I don't think anyone asked this yet, but...

What about her Guad? Is she keeping it?

July 27, 2012 at 09:47 AM · "I believe that Curtain and Alf, together and separately, have made mostly or only tasteful antiques."

Gregg Alf is one of the makers who has been questioning this. Nearly a decade ago, he and a number of other makers had a conference to look into "new directions of creativity, originality, and evolution of design". One of his underlying questions was this:

“where would the world of fine art & literature be today if most of the painters since Leonardo and many of the poets since Shakespeare had limited themselves to recreating copies, in ever finer detail, of the Mona Lisa or Hamlet.... why are we still copying?"

Joseph Curtin has been heavily exploring various ways of "getting off the beaten path" for even longer.

July 27, 2012 at 11:21 AM · I have a friend who is a collector and a maker (third generation of makers), he told me that if he had to choose between two violins of the same maker for his collection, one antiquated and the other with a new look, he would take the non antiquated one for his collection, since it would display the maker's personality.

July 27, 2012 at 11:50 AM · Speaking of new directions, I just reminded myself of 2 other makers, Guy Rabut and Christophe Landon. Landon, I think, makes mostly bench copies, antiqued. But if I'm not confusing him with someone else, he's also made orginal designs. This is definitely true of Rabut. Some of his original designs are like modern art. But how many customers go for that?

I sympathize with the analogy of copying Shakespeare, etc. Yet I'm not sure this fully applies to violins as opposed to writing plays or music. At a certain point we must ask when is a violin not or still a violin, if anything goes? As interpreters, we violinists have a lot of leeway - until it's to a point where people go "Huh? Seriously?" Yet exactly where do you draw the line? I don't think you can.

I don't think antiquing needs justification any more than non-antiquing. In the end it's a maker and a player saying me gusta or me no gusta.

But David, I have this question for you. At say a VSA competion, where I have seen some winners that were antiqued, it seems like those and fresh work are so apples and oranges. Does that present any problem to judges in terms of applying criteria?

July 27, 2012 at 12:58 PM · I don't think it's a problem, but different judges may evaluate antiqued instruments different ways. I might look at one, and muse, "That's a nicely made fiddle with a very skillful and convincing antiquing job". Charles Beare might say, "That's obviously an attempt to copy the Lord Wilton Guarneri. Do I evaluate it as just a violin, or on how successfully the maker got the details of the original right?"

Question like these come up. The Cremona and the China competitions don't allow antiqued instruments, so that makes things a little less complicated.

But I'll say this: There are some makers who have taken antiquing to a much higher level than it generally was 30 years ago, and the bar has been raised. So if someone enters an antiqued violin in a VSA Competition, the antiquing job better be darned good, or they might do better by not attempting it.

Of course it's no less of a challenge to make a decent looking fully varnished instrument, as opposed to something that looks like it has an orange-colored car finish. ;-)

Yes, Landon and Rabut have done some highly unusual instruments. I've only seen one of those from each maker, but liked them both. You're right, the market is probably very small for that type of thing. There's a lot of inertia in the fiddle business.

July 27, 2012 at 02:50 PM · A few friends of mine had instruments on trial a while back and there were a few new ones. I did't really want to look at them. I wasn't temped like I would have been if an older or antiqued instrument had been on the table as well. They looked quite boring. However, they sounded great. I don't think I could compel myself to purchase an instrument that looks like a snooze just because it sounds good. While sound is the goal, I prefer my instruments to turn a few heads when I walk on stage.

ANYWAYS! - Not a discussion on whether we like antiquing or not - Julia's new violin!

Still, no one has commented on the nice guad she has...

July 27, 2012 at 02:54 PM · I can't speak with authority, but I sometimes wonder if performers choose antiqued new instruments, so they don't take any guff from those with old instruments. Can anyone speak to whether those who pick a new-antiqued are trying to blend in, or not?

The instrument in question here looks like it's older. I don't think anyone would give it a second glance backstage, where an obviously new instrument might bring comments from the "older is better" crowd.

Myself, I'd choose the non-antiqued version. If anybody got on my case about having a nice, new fiddle, they would get a lecture. :-)

July 27, 2012 at 04:22 PM · I always thought it would be fun to have someone walk on stage with this fiddle. Then, after getting a few derogatory comments about "that modern piece of junk", inform them that it's actually the most valuable violin in the world, the Messiah Strad!

July 27, 2012 at 06:43 PM · Pity he didn't match up the back too well ...

Maybe he might get it right with the second coming ...

July 27, 2012 at 07:43 PM · Dear violinmakers: All respect to your workmanship and mechanical skills. The violin still is in the first place a tool. So what is the deal about an good looking violin?

Second thing: Why should anyone want to develope the violin?! It is a tool for classical music and its good the way it is, if you want a different sound, take a different instrument. Music has already evolved and E-guitars are much more common than violins. But still violins have their place. Because they are awesome in their way. No need to change! The good will prevail!

When someone makes "art" he invents something, wich is new in itself and maybe has some kind of message. Its ok for me, if violin makers try to go that creative way as long as some stay with the old way of constructing. In which way new violins should be build soundwise is much more interesting to me, than how it looks. unfortunately I have no idea about the details of violin making. But for example, many violin makers go for some kind of edgy sound (customers demands i guess) but can that be all? How about a solution to the c" g string wolf problem wich many also great violins seem to suffer from?

July 27, 2012 at 07:56 PM · Does anyone apply "antiquing" to bows? I was thinking how clever it would be to have one of those "wood clad" carbon fiber bows -- antiqued and fitted with an ivory frog (preferably cracked).

July 27, 2012 at 08:19 PM · Hi,

Mr. Fischer: thank you for the information regarding Ms. Fischer's new modern instrument. Question: is Ms. Fischer planning on using this instrument as her main concert instrument or as one of her instruments along with her previous instruments?

Also, as one who has enjoyed listening to the links of Ms. Fischer's concerts that you have posted, I would like to express my thanks and appreciation.

Cheers and best,


July 27, 2012 at 08:44 PM · Simon, must makers build "traditional" instruments that can show creative and personal features. The problem is that most of these features are subtle and can be noticed just by trained eyes, most players (including professionals) will not notice such details.

But most professional players have a good eye for "overall appearance".

I mostly make violas and they sound good up to the 7th position on the C string without wolves and rasped notes, that's possible to get in violins too but gentlemen don't talk about such technical things in public...


July 27, 2012 at 08:46 PM · Paul, never heard about antiquated bows. In general for bows the less used, the most pristine, the most untouched, the better.

July 27, 2012 at 08:53 PM · "Dear violinmakers: All respect to your workmanship and mechanical skills. The violin still is in the first place a tool. So what is the deal about an good looking violin?"

Nothin' wrong with tools. But if you can build a great looking tool, performance doesn't suffer, and there's a market for it, why not take on the challenge?

Besides, it's traditional for high-end fiddles, and that appeals to some of us. Strad didn't just make an axe. He made exceptional looking axes. Same with the Amatis.

Why do musicians often dress up when they perform? Does Anne-Sophie Mutter play better in an evening gown than she would in a plain black suit, or jeans?

July 27, 2012 at 09:41 PM · I actually couldn't care less about performers dresses except I come for the woman, not the music. Wich may be cheaper somewhere else and you would get more of it.

Actually I didn't mean to say, that a violin should not look good. I just wanted to say that for a musician the tone and playability is the most important thing. If a violin maker can make an violin, that sounds like a piece of art its even more impressive, than an just good looking instrument with a mediocre tone.

I think I played some violins from some quite renown makers and I have to say, there is some good stuff in between, but some makers seem to have more the eye on the look than the ear on the sound. Perhaps they make good sounding violins too, but they don't know why. Maybe because they copy something good... I would prefer a good copy (must not be antiqued) to an custom model wich sounds in a way strange (but maybe also "good").

But in that point I have to refer to L.Mozarts Violin School, wich I recently had a look in. He has an chapter about the problem of violinmakers at his time. The problem was, that there were too many different sounding violins and no standards regarding the production... Maybe its not about making the violin sound "better" but to decide, wich way to go and actually build violins, that sound good with what already exists. still most violins will be orchestra instruments.

July 27, 2012 at 09:54 PM · I have no issues with anything you have said, Simon. I was just trying to respond to your question.

There may be some correlation between the attention which is required to make a good looking violin, and the attention required to make a good sounding violin. I won't say that it's necessary, just that that the two often coexist. Stradivari was one example.

I can probably make a decent sounding fiddle for half what I charge, but doing half the job (from my perspective) doesn't interest me very much right now. A lot of other makers feel the same way.

July 27, 2012 at 10:23 PM · Paul Deck, I got your drift. How come fiddlemakers beat up their violins to fit into an antique market, and bowmakers haven't found sufficient incentives to do likewise?

July 27, 2012 at 10:36 PM · actually I like the look of my violins and violins in general. And I think its true that with a good eye for optical details some people can tell about the sound of the violin. I always check my optical reference points on a violin too, just to make sure its made with care.

Maybe David, you could make a video about antiquing with the sawsal?

July 27, 2012 at 10:42 PM · Simon, I have several videos planned on the "Sawzall" theme. LOL

Just waiting for a little free time, combined with instruments in the right stage of construction.

I was injured in a motor vehicle accident in March, so things have gotten a little behind schedule.

July 27, 2012 at 11:45 PM · I don't really post at all here usually, but I find the discussion quite interesting and wanted to throw in my two cents:

While I can understand the statement of saying "who cares about all this, it's about the tone, it's a tool!", I guess I'm just a different kind of person in that regard. I can't really disregard the visual aspect that much, and actually really want an instrument that I myself find special and unique, and have a special bond with... Both story-wise and visually.

I often want to consciously disregard older fiddles and really just go for a new one, but in many cases, my uneducated and simple amateur violinist eye just can't get much out of the modern standard yellow-orange finished violin. I'm sure there's gonna be people here now that will yell "But you can start the story of the violin yourself when you play it for 40 years!" - Sure. If there were modern violins presented to me, that are not antiqued, but still find a way to have a visual character that I find attractive, I would definitely, without any doubt, go for the modern violin. But I have not been able to find such a violin yet. Maybe I just haven't looked at the right places, I don't know. :) But usually you either see the antiqued one, or the "I look like every other violin" one.

July 28, 2012 at 12:05 AM · My main concern with instruments is sound, but they MUST be beautifull, otherwise they will not sell, even if they sound darn good. I love this part of HILL`S book on Stradivari:

"If players would be content with instruments treated with colourless varnish, the difficulty of producing fine tone would be very greatly dimisnished, as the addition of many and various injurious colouring substances, or the artificial staining of the wood (at sometimes accomplished by the use of acids) in order to please the eye, in the one case mars what would be a varnish favourable for tone, and in the other adversely affects the material from which the instrument is made. In fact, tone is, and has been, though often unintentionally, sacrified by many through seeking to gratify the taste for mere outward appearence. ... ...

Could we have seen the most brilliant works of Italian violin-makers fresh form their hands, we should have been not a little surprised by their bright and unsubdued aspect; nay, in many instances, notably with regard to some of the violins of Joseph Guarnerius, we would have been struck by their positively crude appearance. The conditions for ultimately ensureing a fine appearance were certainly there; but to the wonder-working effects of time and use, and to these alone, we unhesitatingly attibute all that charms us now. That the more ambitious of modern makers should have sought to rival the productions of the old masters in external appearance is readily conceivable - however injudicious at times their procedure - when we bear in mind the popular demand for athing of beauty. An ugly or even plain instrument, though excellent in tone, is again and again rejected. Many may view this statement with incredulity; it is nevertheless strictly true, and the statement is the outcome of innumerable experiences." (see the chapter on varnish).

It was true one hundred years ago. It's true today.

July 28, 2012 at 02:51 AM · "If players would be content with instruments treated with colourless varnish..."

Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane for me! Completely impervious varnish.

The best argument I've heard so far in this discussion is the "first nick" argument. If you've got an antiqued violin, and you put a ding in it, it looks like it was meant to be there. If you buy a pristine "perfect" violin and you put a ding in it, that's the first thing anyone will see. I think that rationale's got legs.

July 28, 2012 at 10:45 AM · Same with the first dent on a new car. I wonder if there's an opportunity there for someone who will supply them pre-dented?

July 28, 2012 at 11:11 AM · I have known teachers who sometimes prefer non-immaculate finishes for their more neurotic students for just this reason.

July 28, 2012 at 12:23 PM · David, interesting analogy, but ...

(1) Car parts are interchangeable. If you need a bumper for a '60 Cadillac you can find one.

(2) A car is just a car.

(3) Bondo.

(4) I don't know how you've lived in Ann Arbor so long without becoming aware of dealers in pre-dented vehicles! LOL

July 28, 2012 at 02:26 PM · The Guad is kept and both instruments are used (just not at the same time).


July 28, 2012 at 03:26 PM · "(1) Car parts are interchangeable. If you need a bumper for a '60 Cadillac you can find one."

We are capable of making most damage to a violin "disappear" too, but that isn't always chosen.

Why would someone replace a bumper, or fix a dent on a car when they can instead learn to appreciate the patina and character of age and use? The dents are part of its unique character and history, and part of what sets a car apart from thousands of otherwise identical cars. ;-)

July 28, 2012 at 04:55 PM · Hi David! I will send my patinated 1995 Renault 19 to you!!!

July 28, 2012 at 06:17 PM · "Why would someone replace a bumper, or fix a dent on a car when they can instead learn to appreciate the patina and character of age and use? The dents are part of its unique character and history, and part of what sets a car apart from thousands of otherwise identical cars. ;-)"

Sigh...resale value...same as with violins with "dents," no?

July 28, 2012 at 07:28 PM · hi frank, I would to say Julia is the best thing you could have done, congratulations, I would be the proudest father in the world in your place.

I was very surprised with the quality of julia playing at 8 years old.


Sorry about my english, is because I'm using google translator and I dont speak this language 100%. = D

I believe the guad married very well with Julia.

But this is a very beautiful violin for sure.

July 29, 2012 at 01:53 AM · From Frank-Michael Fischer

Posted on July 28, 2012 at 02:26 PM

The Guad is kept and both instruments are used (just not at the same time).

FMF [Flag?]

From Lyndon Taylor

Posted on July 28, 2012 at 03:25 PM

so basically all this fuss is about a second violin????? [Flag?]

Both Instruments are used = the modern as second violin. Since when? Maybe the GUAD is the second violin? Or maybe, as Frank said BOTH instruments are used. Just like on another thread, when I was very specific about two particular modern violins of mine sounding 'older' - not better or worse - than a particular Strad and a particular del Gesu that I had played on. And from that you got my supposed implication that I meant that moderns "beat Strads every time", which I never said nor implied. These are dizzing leaps of "logic". And even if the modern were indeed secondary, do you think that a violinist like Fisher would just collect junk??

July 29, 2012 at 07:24 AM · This "fuzz" is about the fact that reviewers never realized she was playing the Augustin quite a few times now and were praising the sound of her old violin instead.


July 29, 2012 at 12:02 PM ·

July 29, 2012 at 12:19 PM · Yes, it can be handy for a player to be able to use different instruments interchangeably with no one the wiser.

Many people form a significant part of their impressions of tonal qualities from the appearance of an instrument, or from a belief about who made it, and when. With a good "bench copy" of their antique instrument, a player can sidestep most of this.

July 29, 2012 at 01:20 PM ·

July 29, 2012 at 03:14 PM · There are lots of replicas of old cars running around. I'm not sure I understand your question though, and I'm not really into old original performance cars very much. Modern cars can run circles around them while meeting current emissions and safety standards, and get much better fuel economy at the same time.

July 30, 2012 at 11:33 AM · I was just reminded in a current issue of "Strings" magazine of yet another very distinguished artist using a modern instrument: Jacqueline du Pre set aside her Strad cello in favor of a Peresson - as her PRIMARY concert instrument!

July 30, 2012 at 12:46 PM ·

July 30, 2012 at 01:37 PM · It's beautiful congratulations to Julia! -M

July 30, 2012 at 01:41 PM · That's interesting, Brian, because a couple of Peressons that I've tried at auction showings did not impress me. I've heard those rumors - I don't know. But I'm sure he put everything he had into the cello for the great du Pre.

July 30, 2012 at 03:33 PM · I think there are a number of makers who make very good cellos but their violins are only so-so. I think it's somewhat of a different game.

I loved the part about Fischer fooling the critics who praised the sound of her violin. I'm sure she never intended that but if I were a modern maker I'd be thinking, "One for the good guys!"

July 30, 2012 at 04:40 PM ·

July 30, 2012 at 05:27 PM · Some makers - old and modern - do seem to be more successful with or more renowned for violins than cellos or violas, others more with violas or cellos, etc. I'm thinking of Gofriller and Montagnana for cellos; the Brescians for their violas; Strad not so much for violas. (These are generalizations. There are always individual exceptions.)

In fairness to Peresson, Fodor was very happy with his Peresson violins, as was Norman Carol and other members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. BTW, one member of the Philly is happily playing on a Vittorio Villa.

July 30, 2012 at 05:52 PM ·

July 31, 2012 at 02:53 AM · Thomas Wenberg ("The violin makers of the United States") wrote that Peresson did use other peoples work and modified or finished it.

August 1, 2012 at 03:27 PM · Many have commented on how many great violinists have played on or own violins by contemporary makers. There are numerous excellent recordings of old violins by masters such as Milstein, Heifetz, Oistrach, and others conveniently posted on you tube. I don't think any used modern violins? I have not found on you tube recordings of modern violins that are long enough to make good judgements about tone. I would think makers could post examples of recording of their own violins which are suitable? Maybe there are some examples? Elmar Oliviera has many recordings available on you tube. Perhaps Brian Lee or someone else knows whether Elmar used new or old violins for these recordings, easily available on you tube, and could post? Charles

August 1, 2012 at 04:39 PM ·

August 1, 2012 at 08:36 PM · Hello Brian: Thanks for your post. Amazing how good the Haide l'ancienne violins sound, which list for $2,400. My favorite of the three you posted played by Elmar Oliviera was the Meditation from Thais. I am also a fan of Elmar. His playing on 30 Stradivari and del Gesu violins in the Miracle Makers is a great contribution. I have watched him play on a number of violins by new makers all in the same room with his incredible expertise. I heard him a few years ago in a live SF performance, several sonatas, and liked the violin he used. Afterwards he told me it was a modern violin made by a maker (I forget his name) who lived near the violin making school in Italy. I also liked the Greg Alf violin played by Svi Zeitlin. Are you sure Jaqueline du Pre used a Peresson cello in the Elgar concerto? Yow! For years this performance has been a top favorite of mine. In the current issue of Strings, Sept 12, there is an article on du Pre. It states that she played on the Davidoff Strad from 1965 to 1968 and that she switced to a 1970 Peresson. I will not comment on Michael Tree's viola except to say that you can hear him better on a you tube Bridge Lament for 2 violas. I have a recording of Christian Tetzlaff playing the Bach Sonatas and Partitas using his Greiner violin.I didn't care for the tone of the violin, but I would love to hear Kim Kashkashian playing on her Greiner viola. Charles

August 1, 2012 at 09:12 PM · Re Elmar - I also seem to remember that he used his Curtain to record the Joachim "Hungarian" Concerto.

Re Persson a few posts above - that's really a pity. If that's true, he besmirched his own legacy. Now there are makers, especially if they run full-service shops, who offer instruments that they imported in the white, gave some finishing touches to, and varnished. But those such makers with integrety, will indicate that to their customers. Their labels on such instruments will read something like"Made for Mr. X's shop" or "shop adjusted by Mr. X" etc. They will make this clear to their customers and the prices of such instruments will be significantly less than those that they make from start to finish with their own two hands.

August 1, 2012 at 10:25 PM · Hendrik Hak wrote:

"Thomas Wenberg ("The violin makers of the United States") wrote that Peresson did use other peoples work and modified or finished it."

I asked Wenberg about that, and he said that he had import documents to back it up, and ran the matter by an attorney before publishing.

August 2, 2012 at 01:17 AM · I reminded myself that the Markovs, father and son have had Peressons that they were very happy with, and just learned that Zukerman and Rostropocich also had Peressons - though how high up in their collection, I don't know.

I just followed the discussion on this topic on Maestronet. The real shocker for me is our own David. I mean I think I heard that he worked out - but he's as buff as Hulk Hogan! ;-D

August 2, 2012 at 02:14 AM · I personally still don't like the sound of Haide l'ancienne... I played one before and after a couple years the sound went dead. It was ok at the beginning...

August 2, 2012 at 03:05 AM · Brian: I found this on the internet - "cellist Jacqueline Du Pre with Daniel Barenboim conducting the London

Philharmonic in 1967." So her great perfomance on the Elgar was using the Davidoff, not the Peresson, which was made in 1970 (See the Strings article). As to the Haide l'ancienne violins, let the buyer beware. I played on many Chinese violins at the ASTA conference several years ago and found only one that I liked. Elmar is exceptional. I wish he would conduct "master classes" for players who could, and maybe should learn how to evaluate new and old violins. Charles

August 2, 2012 at 03:13 AM ·

August 2, 2012 at 05:11 AM · Brian:

Yes, that's what I think as well... But then I wonder what if you commission an instrument and it turns out to be an ok or not good at all?

August 2, 2012 at 06:06 AM · Brian: You are right. I am sure that in the 1970 Philadelphia recording of the Elgar, which you just posted, that Jaqueline du Pre used the Peresson and not the Davidoff as in the 1968 recording. What a great difference! Do you really like the sound of that Peresson cello? Her playing was marvelous but the Peresson cello in my opinion was grossly inadequate - thin on top and nothing on the bottom, no clarity, colors, and all the great indescribable tones and sounds, which Jaqueline du Pre presented in the 1968 recording using the Davidoff Strad. I remember hearing something? about Jaqueline calling Charles Beare anytime during all hours of the night about problems with the Davidoff cello. I have the Strad photos of the Davidoff Strad, the model which I used for all my 4/4 cellos. You can listen yourself about the tone of one of my cellos on harmanviolins.com on the first page under cellos, Abraham Aragundi playing an early Beethoven Sonata, op 5, # 2 Part I. I believe the top graduations presented in the Strad photos were way too thin for a cello and may have been related to the problems that Jaqueline may have had? - perhaps leading to her husband purchasing the Peresson. I had asked Yo Yo Ma at the World Cello Congress III, 2000, in Baltimore about the Davidoff, which he had acquired. He said that it was in England and strung up with gut strings. Has he ever used the Davidoff in a major performance or recording? Anyway, what we don't know may sometimes be more important than what we know. Glad to hear from you. Charles

August 2, 2012 at 12:07 PM ·

" what if you commission an instrument and it turns out to be an ok or not good at all?"

That's a legitimate concern. No matter who the maker, you never know how a particular instrument will turn out, and whether it will be to yor taste. When comissioning an instrument, you should voice this concern to the maker, and see whether the maker will give you a trial period to get used to the new violin and be allowed to return it for a full refund if you don't like it.

August 2, 2012 at 12:22 PM · When so many absolutely top-notch players are known to prefer an instrument other than a Strad or del Gesu for their concerts and recordings, and when so many of these turn out to be new instruments, this is indeed food for thought.

Stradivari did very well in his own life time, but he did not become the mega hit and icon that he is today, overnight. For quite a while Stainers were preferred over Strads! Times change, tastes change and playing conditions change. Viotti is said to be the one who really put Strad on the map. Similarly with Paganini and del Gesu.

Eventually these two names developed a cachet that remains today. Many name players feel that being able to say that they play on this or that Strad or del Gesu adds extra allure to their prestiege - and maybe it does. Others just want results that work best for them wherever they find it, and indeed like to be patrons of contemporary making.

It takes time to overcome prejudice, but I think the tide is turning. To celebrate and support new work is not to disparage the classic makers in any way. Modern makers are standing on the shoulders of giants, and are usually happy to acknowledge that. There is no need to esconse oneself in either end of the old vs new debate. My own favorite violin so far that I've tried (and I've tried about half a dozen Strads, 2 del Gesus, etc.) happens to be a particular Amati. You just never know. Let's celebrate great making wherever we find it. It's about the chemistry between an individual instrument and a particular player. When that chemistry really works, magical things can happen!

August 2, 2012 at 12:24 PM · FMF wrote, "This "fuzz" is about the fact that reviewers never realized she was playing the Augustin quite a few times now and were praising the sound of her old violin instead."

Well, if this was on stage, and the fiddle had NOT been antiqued, they would have known straight away, by sight, that it was a new instrument. And maybe found fault with the sound...

...PS - never had the last word before! didn't realise it was post 101.

August 6, 2014 at 08:50 AM · My view on antiquing of new instruments:

without a question antiquing has to be tastefully done, so that the instrument looks well preserved and not like a sad 'ruin'.

I own a beautiful Gasparo da Salo (viola) copy by Andrea Frandsen.

I feel this instrument would look really silly, if it had a "brand new" look to it.

It therefore depends very much on the model that is copied. The maker, will have to make the decision between a new or old appearance to give the instrument the right look.

My Guicciardi, on the other hand, looks new. Quite rightly so, because it is a personal model of this maker, and it looks best this way.

Both violas look beautiful, because their makers made the right decision.

August 6, 2014 at 01:46 PM · With regard to antiquing, I agree it comes down to what the person buying the violin likes. But it's kind of an inescapable truth that fake is fake. If you take a particular Strad and copy the exact scratches and fadings and other markings onto a copy of that instrument, is that antiquing or counterfeiting?

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