Simone F. Sacconi--Where are his violins?

July 17, 2006 at 05:09 AM · I am doing some initial research on Simone F. Sacconi. I have found out that he was a well-respected luthier operating in New York in the first half of the 20th century. He is also the author of a violin making classic titled "The Secrets of Stradivari." I am trying to determine if he made his own violins in addition to his restoration and other luthier work. If he did make violins, can any of you professionals or luthiers direct me to a source for more information about his instruments? How many did he make? How can one ascertain their authenticity? Where are they? Thanks for your help.

Replies (17)

July 17, 2006 at 06:43 AM · I thought he was just a restoration expert...

July 17, 2006 at 12:15 PM · If you go to Tarisio Redbook results you can look up instruments made by Sacconi and their auction prices. It shows instruments made in the 1920s and more recent ones as well. Here is a link:

http://www.tarisio.com/web/red_book.php

July 17, 2006 at 02:13 PM · During the presentation week at "The American Violin/Jefferson to Jazz" at the Library of Congress this last spring, a very fine Sacconi was brought in for exhibition/photography. I believe the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers plans to release a book on the event in the future, and I'm sure that instrument will be included.

Among other sources, there is a short bio on Sacconi in "The Violin Makers of the United States" by Wenburg. I believe he may include an estimate of his output.

Jeffrey

J. S. Holmes Fine Violins, LLC

July 17, 2006 at 03:06 PM · I've seen three violins. Two Strad models that looked a lot like Beckers, in terms of color and quality, and a del Gesu model that I initially thought was a real del Gesu, stripped and refinished. All three were superb in every respect.

July 17, 2006 at 04:27 PM · It won't answer all your questions, but you want to get your hands on the following book, which is a set of tributes to Sacconi by his wife, fellow luthiers (many of which he trained), violinists and other string soloists, collectors, and a few others:

"From Violinmaking to Music: The Life and Works of Simone Fernando Sacconi" (2nd edition - no date, but the first edition was 1985). Cremona, Italy: A.C.L.A.P. (The Cremonese Association of Professional Violinmakers)

The closest library to me here in Wisconsin that had it was at Oberlin College, which loaned it to the local college library. So you may have some trouble finding it.

The book contains each tribute in its original language plus translated versions (if needed) into English and Italian. There are extensive and excellent photographs, including (as I recall) photographs of a string quartet of instruments made by Sacconi. Sacconi is shown in many photographs at work in the shops of Emil Herrmann and Rembert Wurlitzer. Charles Beare contributes a very short biography in the "Introduction." I especially recommend the lengthy discussion of his life and significance of his work by one Sorab Modi (identified as "Music Critic," his name was unfamiliar) starting on page 351.

If one believes what is written in the book, he was a superb luthier, unparalleled in restoring and maintaining the finest violins in existence, and trusted as the sole maintainer of instruments of innumerable soloists. Leonard Rose says (in his tribute): ". . . any restoration performed by him was in itself a masterpiece."

One gets the impression that he was the foremost luthier of the last century. Good luck in your pursuit.

July 17, 2006 at 05:53 PM · FYI,

The current issue of the Strad has an article on American (USA) violin making, which discusses Sacconi and has a photo of one of his instruments. I believe his book is considered something of a bible by many luthiers (?).

July 17, 2006 at 08:29 PM · I think most professional musicians as well as Luthiers (and biggest names of the early and mid-20th century), considered him to be a major force in violin-making and is recognized as one of the most important contemporary violin makers as well as one of the best known violin experts of the Twentieth Century.

It was thanks to him that the violin making exhibits in Cremona took place in 1937 & 1949 as he was called upon as one of the most important experts of his time along with Hamma, Beare and others.

He was also called upon to head the Cremona School of Violn Making (when it was established in 1938), but he declined due to his very important position at the time in NY working for the Wurlitzer Shop (one of the best shops in the world during its time).

Sacconi had influenced several generations of great luthiers as well as archetiers. Many are reaping the fruits of his labor in terms of the knowledge he shared and instilled in those around him.

The list includes the top names of todays finest artisans.

And BTW, the bridges made in J. Francais shop, and now by many who came from that shop were/are very much influnced by Sacconi.

Those who own his instruments, cherish them. It is rare to see a Sacconi fiddle in auctions.

There are several books available including secrets of Stradivari.

as well as Sacconi, Simone F. FROM VIOLINMAKING TO MUSIC: The Life and Works of Simone Fernando Sacconi. The Man and the Maestro as Seen by the Greatest Violinmakers, Experts, and Musicians Who Knew Him. Cremona, 1985. In English and Italian

WURLITZER, Rembert. Loan Exhibition of Stringed Instruments and Bows Commemorating the Seventieth Birthday of Simone Fernando Sacconi.

There is a very fine book of Sacconi instruments published in the 1990's I forget who the publisher is. I do have the book in my collection, but as I am on vacation, I don't recall the details.

July 17, 2006 at 08:24 PM · For those among you whose mother tongue is German: Klaus Osse (former Medical Chief Gynaecologian in Jena Hospital and pupil of Kurt R.Zöphel at Markneukirchen till 1982, now master luthier himself)in his book Violine-Klangwerkzeug und Kunstgegenstand, refers to a German edition of Sacconi, Simone F, Die 'Geheimnisse' Stradivaris - Frankfurt/Main, 1976

A book very well researched and fine reading for all lovers of Violin.

greetings

Hansjürgen

July 18, 2006 at 06:21 PM · I think "The Secrets of Stradivari" is a widely known book and has been mentioned up above at least three times.

It is some others that are less known such as:

Sacconi, Simone F. FROM VIOLINMAKING TO MUSIC: The Life and Works of Simone Fernando Sacconi. The Man and the Maestro as Seen by the Greatest Violinmakers, Experts, and Musicians Who Knew Him. Cremona, 1985. In English and Italian

WURLITZER, Rembert. Loan Exhibition of Stringed Instruments and Bows Commemorating the Seventieth Birthday of Simone Fernando Sacconi.

(a very rare book and is a must for collectors).

There is also a book published by TURRIS of the 1937 and 1949 Cremona exhibits which has many photos of Sacconi with other prominent figures of the time as well as all of the instruments displayed at the exhibits;

L'ESPOSIZIONE DI LIUTERIA ANTICA A CREMONA NEL 1937 - 1949 Cremona. I think the re-issue of both exhibits was published in 1987.

During these exhibits, the first cremona violin making competitions were held. In the book, they state who took the top prizes (which include Sgarabotto, Lucci, Bisiach, Sderci,Rocchi and others).

July 19, 2006 at 09:25 PM · I forgot to mention that David Segal in NYC, knew Sacconi very well.

In fact, Mr. Segal was invited by Maestro Fernando Sacconi to work with him at the violin shop of Rembert Wurlitzer in New York City (1972).

Mr. Segal was born in Israel. A second-generation instrument maker, the son of Mendel Segal, he graduated from the International School of Violin Making in Cremona, Italy where he was a student of Francesco Bissolotti, Gio Batta Morassi and Pietro Sgarabotto.

I am sure if you have more questions to ask about Sacconi, David would be the right person to answer them.

August 29, 2013 at 11:06 PM · Has anyone heard of a book written byPaolo Peterlongo who apparently had a very good relationship with Simone Sacconi?

August 30, 2013 at 06:14 AM · Yes, I own a copy of "The Violin", subtitled "Its physical and acoustic principles" by Paolo Peterlongo, ©1979 translated by Paul Elek. ISBN o 236 40142 4.

Last year I was shown a Sacconi violin in Sean Bishop's shop in London, UK. Work of the kind of precision we usually associate with the finest French makers, reddish varnish.

I think it never appeared on his website - maybe it was just a "visitor".

(EDIT) I understand from Sean Bishop that this was from the maker's New York period.

August 30, 2013 at 08:42 AM · I had a viola by him on trial, his instruments are out there somewhere! Mine was from reuning.

He was mainly a restorer though...so they will be more rare I think.

August 30, 2013 at 04:20 PM · There is a professional ensemble in the UK called the "Sacconi String Quartet".

http://sacconi.com/

From what I gathered on the one occasion that I heard them, only the VIOLIST has a Sacconi instrument. The second-fiddler has, or had, a beautiful Camilli violin. What the others played, I do not know.

August 31, 2013 at 02:33 AM · I also have that Peterlongo book. I also have a book about Sacconi, called "From Violin Making to Music: The Life and Works of SF Saconni" published by ACLAP, Cremona. It includes testemonials and rememberances by various people, with text in both Italian and English. It also includes some photos of some of his instruments. (oops - just saw Eric's old post already noting this book!)

I also tried one at a Tarisio auction showing, and once on a gig, my stand partner had one. Someone mentioned a bit of a French look. Someone else knowledgeable that I know has said the same thing. Isn't that odd for an Italian maker whose almost Diety was Stradivari?

August 31, 2013 at 05:47 AM · "Someone mentioned a bit of a French look.......... Isn't that odd for an Italian maker whose almost Diety was Stradivari? "

Didn't those top French makers, e.g. J.B.Vuillaume, worship Stradivari too ?

Italian fiddle-making did seem to lose contact with the classic models during the 19th. century. The Stradivari originals were taken from Italy, and France became the centre of the violin world.

In those days, a buyer wanting a "facsimile" of a classic violin would be better off approaching a maker anywhere in the world BUT Italy.

Italian makers now have access to excellent examples of classic antique violins, some of which reside in the Cremona museum. Thanks to this, and to the influence of Sacconi, they are catching up with those fiendish French makers of yore , IMHO !!

So, if someone opined that new violin made by an Italian looked a bit "French", I'd think that could be taken as a compliment to the maker.

August 31, 2013 at 12:13 PM · But Saconni's more or less contemporaries included Fagnola, Poggi, Scarampela, Giramberti, etc. etc. They all "got it", each in their own way - a Italiano.

I'm not putting down French work at all. Vuilliaume, Lupot, many others are really great. I myself have a wonderful French 19th c. violin by the more obscure Désiré (not Derazy), which I'm selling with mixed feelings. I just find it unusual that Saconni somehow ended up with an approach or look that some knowledgeable people see as somewhat French. Kind of like growing up in one place and developing the accent of another place.

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