Kurt Widenhouse and Joseph Curtin violins
I'm thinking of commissioning a violin by either Kurt Widenhouse or Joseph Curtin. Of course I'll try to find a convenient time to visit them both and try (I live about 20 hours flight from the US its not easy to get there).
I collect violins for myself and hopefully for my 2 young daughters if they choose to learn violin one day. The prices of good antiques are ridiculous and I don't live in London or NY so its difficult to buy from auction. I'm therefore looking for the best contemporary violin maker to commission violins. I look for violins with superb sound and also reputable violinmaker, hoping they will increase in value long time from now.
The price of Curtin's violin is almost double that quoted by Widenhouse. Anyone know if Curtin violins are vastly superior or is it mostly due to his reputation only?
Is anyone playing on either a Curtin or Widenhouse?Or has anyone play/own both and can give some insights on how they compare? sound? (I'm more of a guarneri guy, love the deep tone of guarneris, plus the overtones tend to help hide my imperfections )
I know there are a ton of excellent makers but I cannot be emailing all of them, so I focus on these 2 makers only.
Not just a good idea in case your daughters play violin. It's a good idea in case your daughters go to college, because the value of your violin collection might not be visible on the FAFSA. Kicking myself for not buying twice as much house.
My teacher has a Joe Curtin Violin. I think the best word to describe it is powerful. It can play quite loud.
The best Curtins that I have seen are very good. My only peeve is that he seems to have drifted to a del Gesu pattern for most of his stuff, and he prefers antiquing even though an experimental violin he did with straight varnish was gorgeous.
del Gesus are easier to make sound, Strads more complicated, hit or miss. Kurt's violins are every bit as wonderful as Curtin's, just different.
Don't do it. There have been lots of threads arguing that buying expensive violins is not a good investment. There is really no telling whether a Curtin violin will have appreciated anywhere near a solid investment in fifty years' time.
antiques are better investments because its much easier to find bargains, unfortunately you have to be some kind of expert to recognize the bargains from the fakes, even so at retail prices good antiques are appreciating faster than good moderns. that may change though, if the moderns are as good as some people say they are.
yeah, those bargain Strads keep a coming...
the paucity of bargain Strads is hardly representative of the number of bargains among more reasonably priced antiques. For instance I just bought a 1784 Joseph Wagner violin for $450. After a $500 restoration its now worth $4000, very uncommon, but it does happen.
People collect things, whether it's art or fine wine or baseball cards or violins. People always hope there's a resale value, but that's always speculative. Violins aren't a great financial investment, but neither are, say, antique cars. Collectors get pleasure from owning. Hopefully in this case, also from playing, but there are people who vault their instruments and to some degree, this is a nice way of preserving them for posterity.
Utility stocks arent perfect investments either.
I have played at least 3 Curtin violins and they were stellar instruments. A close colleague has one and while I have not played that one it always sounds fantastic to me. They seem to have a good amount of power, responsiveness, and feel comfortable to play.
You are choosing from between two masters. I have tried both Widenhouse and Curtin. The Widenhouse was for sale at a well respected dealer in NYC, very warm, beautiful tone and responsive. Maybe among the best contemporary violin I tried on that trip.
Both are nice, I like Curtin violins. If you going to meet with them and try their instruments, I'm sure you'll make a good choice. As a collector, I'm sure you have a number of nice old instruments, a Curtin would be a nice addition to collection.
"del Gesus are easier to make sound, Strads more complicated, hit or miss."
Why is a Strad more complicated to make than a del Gesu, hit or miss?
I have heard some say that del Gesu was using a pretty straightforward evolution of the original Amati model. In spite of how weird they look to the layman.
Guys, thank you for the overwhelming response.
Widenhouse is a super-nice guy, very easy to deal with. You shouldn't have any problems.
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