A Fine Addition: Stefano Scarampella, by Eric Blot Edizioni

Scarampella Book CoverWithin the last few years a number of large-scale works on violin makers have been published, and so it may be with some surprise that a new study of the makers of the Scarampella family appears in a relatively “modest” 143-page publication. The unassuming title—Stefano Scarampella—belies a detailed and splendid review of the lives and work of the members of this important family. Continue reading

Categories: Makers, Reviews | Tagged: , , |

Is That My “A” You’ve Got?

I’ve been given thousands of “A’s” in my career as a professional cellist. I’ve gotten them from oboists, pianists, violinists, electronic machines and assorted other sources, and as I have responded to these many “A’s” and listened to others respond, I have come to realize that the “A” that is given is not necessarily, or even often, the one that is taken! Continue reading

Categories: Performance, Players, Teaching Studio |

A Rose by Any Other Name: What’s in a Certificate?

Authenticity is one of the more vexing issues for the string instrument trade. The consumer point of view regarding authenticity of instruments and bows is often simple: Will a highly regarded expert issue a certificate? Or even more naively, is it “papered”? But what is behind a certificate, what makes an instrument genuine, and what really are the commercial implications of these questions? The answers may surprise you. Continue reading

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Understanding Appraisal Bafflegab

The Segelman lawsuit, covered elsewhere on this site, is just one of a few scandals in recent times which have been particularly murky due to problems of widespread ignorance among non-professionals in their interaction with the string instrument trade. Likewise, ignorance on the part of those who have been reporting on the scandals in the news has served to heighten consumer suspicion of an industry that has always had to weather a degree of well-deserved consumer circumspection. Perhaps an enhanced understanding of the string instrument business and the terminology used in appraisals may help parties on both sides of transactions avoid the types of misunderstandings that currently dog the string instrument business. Continue reading

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Vienna to Auschwitz, A Biography of Alma Rosé

Instead of the whole, the consummated, of which I dreamed, I leave patchwork, the incomplete, as man is fated to do…I meant well and aimed at high goals. Not always could my efforts be crowned with success…But I have always given my all have subordinated my person to the cause, my inclinations to my duty. I didn’t spare myself and was therefore justified in demanding that others, too exert their strengths to the utmost. Gustav Mahler’s farewell to the “Honored Members of the Court Opera,” posted at the opera house in 1907 and found a day later crumpled, torn, and on the floor.

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Categories: History, Players |

Assessing Tone Wood Using the Lucchi Meter

Francois Xavier Tourte and Dominique Pecatte never used a Lucchi meter. In fact it was not until the late 20th Century that the first Lucchi meter was developed. Today however, the Lucchi meter has become so ubiquitous that the pricing of bow blanks is directly tied into the Lucchi meter reading. So what is this device and how does it work? Continue reading

Categories: Bows, Workshop | Tagged: , |

A Scandal for All Seasons?

The headlines have been sensational:

“Dealers Gain Collectors Trust, Score Multi-million Dollar Bonanza”
“London, Chicago Experts Finagle Holy Grail Cache of Violins”
“How Nazis Targeted the World’s Finest Violins”
“Trail of Treasures is Lost in Secret Rare Instrument Trade”
“Survivors’ Claims Go Unheard”
“Historic Violin Tug-of-War”

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Sotheby’s Chicago Sale

In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, with the health of the world economy, and especially the U.S. economy in doubt, questions linger about the current viability of the fine arts market. Even before September 11th, it was becoming more difficult for auctioneers to produce profits. Continue reading

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Ten Keys to Identifying a Violin

How to identify violins? The short answer of course is to find a qualified expert, and they are rare, who will give you their own best information. There is no shortcut to genuine expertise in the fine string instrument world. Anyone seeking quick answers and simple solutions in the field needs a reality check. This arena takes a confluence of sharp eyes, strong memory, intellectual capacity, tenacity, patience, and many years of experience, coupled with a bit of luck and the opportunity to actually see authentic pieces. Continue reading

Categories: Marketplace |

Sleepers Awake!

The novice seller could easily imagine that the public auction provides the fairest access to the market. But a London Times article of October 16, 2001 exposes a reality well known within the string instrument business: auctioneers aren’t necessarily possessed of the best expertise in the trade. Nor is it always in the auctioneers interest to catalogue an instrument absolutely accurately. Continue reading

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