Andrea Varazzani

“Sun, sea, breeze. Conviviality, social relationships, warmth, folklore… This is the Neapolitan aura that I was leaving.

Fog, plain, stuffiness, coldness … This is the Po Valley aura that I was expecting.

…But then, beyond all the stereotypes and clichés, what did I find to greet me?

I found Andrea Varazzani’s workshop, where the noise of gouges, scrapers, rasps, chisels, planes, the colours of the wood, the odours of fresh paint blend together in a wonderful synthesis.

And so, passion, dedication and cure give shape to the shapeless.…paying homage to the refined art of sounds”

Asa White

In 1796, Paul Revere gathered with a group of friends at the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston, Massachusetts. As they sat around drinking tankards of ale, they created the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association to celebrate invention, artistry, and mechanic ability. Founding members included a vast array of inventors, mechanics, and innovators, including tailors, hatters, goldsmiths, watchmakers, bookbinders, silk-dyers, ship wrights and curriers. In the years that followed, they hosted Massachusetts Mechanics Fairs and almost a century after that first meeting, it is here that violin maker Asa Warren White was awarded many silver and gold medals for his beautifully made instruments. How Mr. White ended up in the company of a large mechanics guild remains somewhat of a mystery, but his place in this famous organization, is part of what makes his violins not only beautiful, but fascinating to players and collectors alike. Here at Huthmaker’s we raise our tankards to the fine men of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association for recognizing the beauty of Asa Whites violins. If you want to raise your own glass to the MCMA, The Green Dragon Tavern is still open for business.

Bavarian Violin

It has been said that the sweetest music to be found may come from the smallest hand. Andreas Kempter, a luthier from Dilligen, Germany knew that all too well. He loved to make instruments and spent his life branching out in all directions. Whether it be a lute, a viola d’amore, a bassato or a bass viol, Herr Kempter made them all with dedication and skill. However, somewhere along the way he was inspired to make this sweet violin. We will never know who inspired this beautiful instrument…the daughter of a wealthy merchant? Or perhaps the love of his life, his wife Anna Maria Bair?

Whoever she was, she must have been truly lovely to move him to create this 7/8 size violin. The body is perfect for a petite frame and delicate hands and the sound, while being warm and sweet, projects and carries beautifully.

Emile Hermann

Have you every rubbed elbows with someone famous? Taken a breath of the same rarified air as a celebrity? Emile Hermann spent his whole life doing just that. In the late 1800’s, his Berlin violin shop was the go-to place for the finest instruments in Europe. He spent his days teaching and working with famous luthiers like Simone Sacconi and Hans Weisshaar, while commissioning many of the best German makers to make instruments for him. And his clientele was no less famous. Most of the top players of the day came to Hermann’s shop for adjustments, restoration work and, of course, purchases. His most famous client was Jascha Heifetz, to whom he sold his now-famous Guarneri Del Gesu in 1922.

Emile’s standards were the highest, and he expected instruments bearing his name to be able to sit side by side with the golden Stradivari, rich Amati, and powerful Guarneri violins that his shop sold. This is one such violin. Made for Herr Hermann in 1922, it is in beautiful condition, with a warm, carrying sound, perfect for everything from Vivaldi to Stravinsky.

And yes, it sat side by side with that famed Heifetz Guarneri, breathing in that rarified air of Emile Hermann’s magnificent shop.

French Violin

Labels are a funny thing…..Sometimes they tell us what an instrument is, sometimes they tell us what an instrument is a tribute to. Rarely are they correct, but they are so often a tantalizing trail of breadcrumbs, helping us learn a little about the history of an instrument. In this case, there are not one, but two labels. The first says, “fait sous la Direction de Leon Bernadel, Luthier- Paris” (made under the direction of Leon Bernadel….) and the second says “Couesnon, Luthier- Paris, 94 Rue d’Angouleme, Paris.”

So, which do you believe? You believe the violin. You believe the curve of the f-holes…. the shape of the button…. The arc of the scroll. In this case, the violin tells us that it is approximately 100 years old and that it is beautifully, decidedly French. And those breadcrumbs? They either came from a croissant or baguette…. whichever you prefer.

Georg Albeck

The violin-making world is a small one and often resembles a family tree. So many of us are connected through business, friendship and family ties, and the stories of how we come to know each other tend to read like a genealogical history. For us, a chance meeting with a wonderful German violin maker started on a rainy day in Olympia, Washington. Through the following years, our friendship moved to the dry desert heat and brown adobe buildings of Santa Fe, New Mexico, before landing back where it all started in Mittenwald, Germany. In the beginning, we knew Georg Albeck as an extraordinary restorer…. someone that we trusted with our most delicate, intricate work. Later, we came to know him as a maker with a depth of talent and an ear for beautiful sound. This is one of his violins. If you hold it close, you can smell the rain and the desert, and hear the laughter and music of years of friendship.

John Juzek

The sun was setting, and the air grew colder, heavy with the smell of coming snow. It was early in the season for the temperatures to drop this low, and the man huddled his shoulders against the wind, hitching the carefully padded bag up higher on his shoulders. He had spent the week working on an order of violin necks, his rough hands artfully tracing the curves of the scroll and smoothing out the sides where the ebony met the maple. He loved the satiny feel of the raw wood and felt a tinge of sadness as he rushed to deliver them to his friend in the next village over. There, his necks would be joined with violin bodies made by another family of artisans. Then they would be taken across the border into Czechoslovakia for varnishing and labels.

He knew that he would not see the final violins but was proud of his work. He was one of the luthiers that made the famous instruments being shipped to America under the name of John Juzek. He often wondered whose fingers would touch the ebony of his fingerboard. A young man headed for the conservatory? A wealthy patron collecting instruments to be used in parlor chamber music concerts? It made no difference…He knew that his work would live on, and make music, for generations to come.