If you're waiting on a commissioned viola, and can't find something you both love and that is affordable in an older instrument...then I'd suggest you buy one that you can live with...and that has the best resale potential.
Once you get your commissioned instrument, you can then re-evaluate your situation and take it from there...
Your keyword is: crowd-sourcing
Ask Crista how did she manage to raise funds.
If you are looking for a great viola at a competitive price, come to Toronto and visit John Newton. I am currently using one of his violas and can highly recommend his work.
Another local maker is Itzel Avila, a Cremona graduate.
While here, you can also visit Quentin Playfair.
A bit North, in Montreal, Isabelle Wilbaux, another Cremona graduate, who made one of my violins, is well known for great violas.
Canadian $ is strong, but labor costs are lower than in the States. Take that advantage.
There are many musicians who have gathered groups of investors to purchase an instrument. One is Robert McDuffie, whose Del Gesu will be sold in 2023, with the profits distributed to his investors. I met a cellist a few years ago who had done the same thing and was able to buy a Guadagnini.
I'm wondering how you're going to make $300k from a benefit concert...
"So far I have tried a storioni, 2 antoniazzi, a fiorini, soffriti, every modern maker,.."
Cool post, Ryan, but the "every modern maker" part is a little hard to believe ;-). I'm involved in making about as much as anyone can be, and also have been heavily involved in evaluating the work of other modern makers (partly as a competition judge), and I'd still be hard-pressed to name even 10 percent of them.
A few years ago, there was a group of musicians from the US west coast who went on a global several-year search for superior modern instruments (and posted about it here), and even they only managed to "hit the highlights". I don't think one lifetime is long enough to try everyone. And if one did somehow manage to get to the end of the list, 100 or more new makers would have popped up in the interim. I'll guess that just the major violinmaking schools graduate about 20 per year, even though few of them end up predominantly making violins. But I think most of them would, if the market was there.
Everyone seems to have a different idea of what the proper viola sound is, so finding a "good" maker may only be a start.
To mention a few makers you haven't listed, my wife had an Otto Erdesz viola for some time that was really fantastic. Too big for her, but you seem not to like too small. To save her back, she moved onto a lovely small one (with massive ribs and arch in the back) by Ed Maday in NY. 90% of the Erdesz's sound, none of the hassles.
More recently, I heard and was utterly blown away by a viola made by Carleen Hutchins. She didn't make too many, so that's a bit of a collectors' item. Worth keeping an eye out for, nonetheless.
Stephen: John Newton of Toronto (who Rocky mentioned above and who also made my violin) trained under Otto Erdesz so its possible you will find a similar quality in his violas.
Thanks all so much for the responses as personal messages, even some phone numbers and violas for sale.
Thank you a ton whoever mentioned crowd-sourcing. Sounds exactly like what I need.
Of course I haven't tried every modern maker, just feels like it :) played a lot of instruments in my search...
So any other tips on crowd-sourcing besides those links? Kickstarter denied me...
Thanks again, feel free to message me with any leads! Of if you're selling.
Scott, any ideas on gathering investors? How's that diff from a benefit concert filled with potential investors?
Seriously considering Iizuka and matsuda, if you know of any let me know!
Helmuth Keller (sp?) came up, heard they are nice...and anyone know of this Rafael Antonio gagliano collaboration? $320k sounds steep to me.
I play a Matsuda Viola - wonderful instrument. I also play a Helmuth Keller violin circa early 80s. I was not aware Helmuth was making instruments any longer. My understanding is that the business is now run by the son?? Would love to know if anyone out there has info.
The Keller is from the 90's, pretty sure it wasn't his son.
Want to part with th matsuda;) any sound clips btw?
Sorry, no. Not a chance anyone is going to pry my Matsuda out of my hands.
I have a hard time believing that one can buy a lower-tier ($30,000) violin, and count on selling it 4 years later for a profit. There are both transaction and capital gains costs, if in fact the viola had really appreciated very much.
David Prentice makes some outstanding violas particularly in sound but also in responsiveness. There are 2 in the Banff Centre instrument bank. One was for sale at the Soundpost in Toronto a few years back and it outplayed all the other violas there including a Newton. I just loved the sound, none of that nasality that some love and others loath in violas. Projected as well as the Newton as far as I remember and Newton violas have tremendous projection.
Canadian prices for quality new instruments are still substantially lower than comparable American. David has a wait list I believe but you could ask him to send a viola on trial.
Have you investigated any societies or foundations that loan instruments to young soloists? What about the Strad Society?
What about competitions with prizes of instrument loans?
Ryan, I've a couple of very long shots:
1. The turkish pop singer Özgün Ugurlu is a trained viola player (On one tweet, through which I found out about him, he asked his fans whether he should play the Walton, Bartok, or Telemann, etc at his next concert which he was doing with a Turkish orchestra. I suggested in my very bad Turkish that if he played Schwanendreher - not on his list - it wouldn't be just the swan that was turning over, which probably means nothing in Turkish language/culture. Out of curiosity I visited his website for the Youtube recording of the concert, and it was purely a pop concert - he'd only been joking about bringing in classical). He might just both have the money to invest in you and be sympathetic enough to consider it. Don't mention ME, though!
2. The Russian violinist, Stanislaw Frydberg, a "pupil of Kreisler" had a collection of instruments that he showed my father and myself around 1960 (He gave me one lesson, too, in which he made me a much more aggressive player - it was only many years later, when seeing Sandor Vegh's master classes and being advised by Philipp Naegele not to force my instrument that I realised that some of what I had imbibed from him needed to be unlearned and I should have remembered what I'd been taught by my old teacher more). One of them was a large, fairly golden viola that he described as "like a 'cello" - it was certainly powerful, and would have been too expensive for us to buy - if he'd even been selling it. Where this instrument is now I haven't the faintest idea, but it might be just what you want if you could find it.
Seriously, great advice and responses from everyone!
Scott: I'm not going to hope and make money off of a $30k viola, I really hope to get this Vuillaume, Gagliano, or Mantegazza. Kind of hopelessly daunting financially though.
Thanks about the info for Bruno (been talking to him, he's great!), and will swing by when I'm in nyc this next week or two!
And I'll try Krieslers student/this Turkish pop star, and retain your anonymity:)
In the meantime I am indeed looking for an investment level instrument. Or of course a Griener. Which doesn't seem to exist.
James, I'm glad you've found a viola that you would never give up, youre a lucky man! I'll definitely check this maker out.
And no, never heard of the strad society...derp...I'll be sure to check that out.
Is it just me, or do certain elements of this whole story just sound a little bit too much to believe??
Lyndon, shame. Why only next week I am holding a bakeathon which I am confident will raise enough to purchase the Messiah Strad. Till then I will have to make do with my Burgess, Zyg and Vuillaume.
Lyndon, if you use the freely available google, there's plenty there to indicate the bloke can play the viola, and well. Stop being such a neddy nay sayer.
Maybe its not as much what he said, as the way he said it.
Said the pot calling the .....
I thought the bake sale comment was funny. Or maybe it was just more how he said it.
Here's the jbv. Still sounds more like a violin to me...but maybe I have some unrealistic idea of the perfect viola being out there, and need to deal with a compromise.
(it was 5am when I recorded this, up for 20 hours- theres my disclaimer!)
Enjoy the other tracks if you are bored :)
('no need to apologise'). Really.
I fight a losing battle at present voicing nicely in double stops on wimpy violin strings. Nice stuff to listen to with you on the viola.
Ryan, it wasn't a request to respect my anonymity, it was advice; because had Özgün happened to understand my totally unfounded online comment about not just the swan turning (but Hindemith in his grave as well), it's How To Win Friends And Influence People - Not!
Another option for checking out living makers (apart from the VSA conference)-- Julie Reed-Yeboah and now Carriage House Violins are doing annual shows with some of the top makers out there.
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July 23, 2013 at 11:32 AM · Sorry, forgot one thing. Wanted to inquire about the brothers gagliano that I mentioned. ?