Dimitri Musafia

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  1. As someone who has lived in Cremona 41 years and knows just about everyone in the lutherie field here, I can say that among my maker friends no-one uses instruments purchased in the white. The proviso is that in my generation, makers have their reputations well-established and won't risk it to make instruments more cheaply - they simply have no need to do so. The same cannot be guaranteed for the younger makers, fresh out of the school. Thirty years ago their market was Japan, which bought up these "entry level" Cremona violins in quantity. However, the younger makers now have the competition of competent Chinese makers in their price category, and the Japanese market has pretty much dried up, so I can imagine them being squeezed. I would also like to add that there is nothing inherently wrong or deceiving about a maker having workshop help to work on an instrument. Stradivari did that and no one is complaining.
  2. Cool, Dwight! My Contax II was made in Jena at the original Zeiss place and has the collapsible Tessar, which is what got me going with the Zeiss optics. But alas I too am firmly in the digital age, although for some reason my younger daughter recently bought a Polaroid… Half the photos don't come out, and they all cost €3 each - sheesh!
  3. Good morning Dwight, well, that's another thing we have in common! I have (or had) a pre-war Contax II with Weston light meter, a Contax 139, Rolleiflex SL35, Canon AT-1, a Minolta SRT-102, and a brand-new, unused Yashica FX-3. I always wanted a Kiev 80 (Soviet wannabe Hasselblad) but could never find one that worked! I used to have a medium format Zenobia but I sold it when I was financing my stay in Italy… Do you have the Minox spy camera, or the 35 with the fold-in lens?
  4. That's where market forces, fueled by an implausible plurality of truths, comes into play. In the '70s Straw Hat Pizza Co aired a commercial explaining that pizza was invented in the Italian town of… Pizza. There they had an annual pizza making festival in which the winning pizza-maker got carried around wearing the Straw Hat as a sort of crown. It was 100% BS - pizza was invented in Naples - but people believed it and flocked to their pizza parlors nonetheless.
  5. It rather depends on if we are talking about art, or conceptual art. No one would think for a minute that Armani sews those suits himself, but everyone takes for granted that Van Gogh did his own painting. Violin making is a field somewhere in the middle between art and conceptual art, where there is not only a lot of leeway, but also fluctuation of standards over the years. That said, most reputable makers, in Cremona at least, will certify if they made the instrument mostly by themselves, or if they are "workshop instruments" wholly made by paid hands. In the latter event, they will charge of course less.
  6. For those who study baroque violin cases, the expertise quoted lists quite more than enough elements to confirm that this is indeed an Italian case of the period, and not of German, French, or English origin. That said, the expertise does not suggest that the case is from the Stradivari workshop.
  7. Actually, the certification reads that the case was, in the opinion of the certifier, quote, "made in Italy in the 18th century, probably between 1720 and 1770 circa." and then proceeds to describe why. (note: Stradivari died in 1737) Yes, it's the case the Tarisio had at auction, no, it didn't sell and in my opinion the reason why is that it needs to be restored before it can fetch a reasonable price. I did suggest to the owner the name of a person who has restored cases like this one before and I hope he will eventually have the work done.
  8. It is indeed a holster case, however I've never seen exactly that type of aperture before. If it's English, perhaps that would explain it… :-)
  9. For some reason it reminds me of 9/11. I know its completely a different issue, but you feel something inside yourself when you see something that you think will be standing forever vanish before your eyes. It's hard to process. I loved that cathedral. Tragic. I felt some of that same emotion when my dad passed away too. Our brain isn't programmed to process everything.
  10. That is interesting! May I know the source of the info?
  11. Where did you hear that?? Fortunately it's not true! Stradivari's house on Corso Garibaldi still stands at no. 57, but his subsequent home/workshop on Piazza San Domenico n. 2 was demolished in the late 1800s, along with the church of the same name, to make place for the public gardens. The two McDonalds are outside of town altogether, along with Burger King and KFC, but I would honestly suggest a good trattoria instead! :-).
  12. I've seen some pretty used, dirty violins too, worth millions, quite a lot of such instruments actually, but who am I to judge.
  13. I'm not sure I get your point. The cases by W.E. Hill & Sons were considered the Rolls-Royce of their day, and it should be no surprise that a vintage Rolls goes for a pretty penny these days. Same with the cases. One Hill case recently made $17,220 at auction. And I would not consider Michael Rabin in any league with Megan Markle, but that's just my opinion….
  14. I have a bunch of tales, but one of my strangest ones dates to back when I couldn't say no to clients. A big-name teacher wanted a case which had hinged rigid sleeves as bow accommodations. The idea was, you open the case, unclip the sleeve and swing it out. The you take your bow, reach back half a mile, insert the bow tip while making sure no one is behind you, slide the bow in trying not to break it, and then reclip the sleeve into position. Very practical. But it's a one-off, so if some day it shows up at Tarisio, feel free to bid high ;-)
  15. This topic was brushed in another thread, but I thought it might be fun to give a wider audience. Violinists often know exactly what they want, and as a maker you try to cater to their needs. But what do you do when the musician wants something strange, or something he/she can't articulate, or something that you as a professional already know is a lousy idea, etc. etc.? What are the most outlandish requests you've received? bring 'em on!