Dimitri Musafia

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Everything posted by Dimitri Musafia

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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… :-)
  6. 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.
  7. That is interesting! May I know the source of the info?
  8. 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! :-).
  9. I've seen some pretty used, dirty violins too, worth millions, quite a lot of such instruments actually, but who am I to judge.
  10. 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….
  11. 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 ;-)
  12. 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!
  13. Then let me know when that happens so I can finally by a Strad! (and a Modigliani, I always wanted one of those too)
  14. In the late 1980s Sotheby's offered Heifetz's double case (practically identical to the Rabin case) which went for $2,000. Tarisio sold it a few years ago for $24,000. Old cases with important provenance evidently can be good investments.
  15. Looks like you should have :-) You could have resold it for double!
  16. That's the only possible solution. A lot of musicians don't even know exactly what they want, or how to articulate it if they do. Your job - and mine - is to interpret the client's true desires and proceed if they are compatible with our own standards. I learned a long time ago that if you take a client's desires literally he/she might not like it in the end. "Be careful of what you desire, because you might end up getting it…"
  17. Haha. There's a point I've always wondered about. Where do you draw the line between "freedom of choice" and "tyranny of choice"? When I was a kid, Mercedes made five models: sedan, luxury sedan, limo, sportscar, and coupe. Now they make 34 different models, and a lot of them look alike.
  18. Absolutely, and you are right. Cotton velvet (think later Hill cases, or Gordge cases) provide the most stable microclimate within the case due to the hygroscopic properties of cotton. Fortunately violins don't sweat, only violinists :-)
  19. For those wondering, if I decide I don't want to take up a project, I have two solutions: if it's a question of materials or components, I simply say that I am unable to source what they are looking for; if it's a question of design, I will recommend them to a colleague. Never any hard feelings. Regarding the issue of product liability, we put enough clauses into our warranty to cover our necessities, but so far I have never heard of any issues of a case manufacturer being asked to take responsibility for instrument breakage. And that despite the millions of truly dangerous cases out there, that are used even to carry Strads (and I mean it). It would be like driving your BMW into a tree, becoming injured, and then suing the folks in Munich. Might as well sue the tree. Update: I found a crushed velvet made with 80% viscose and 20% silk, which the client likes. Whew...
  20. I agree entirely, and in fact purchased a beautiful velvet in the exact color desired, a mix of cotton and viscose to give it a particular sheen. Nope, not approved by the client. (I'll use the material for another case, don't worry). Silk velvet tends to have a dull appearance, while this client wants something lustrous.
  21. Thank you, everyone. And I especially appreciate Melvin's comment because he hits the proverbial nail on the head. After 36 years in the field I may have learned a thing or two. This isn't the first time I find myself in a quandary like this. Some time ago, an A-list soloist wanted to order one of my cases, but insisted that I substitute the time-proven latch that I use with the pinch-type GEWA-style lock by Sudhaus in Germany. Aside from the fact that I dislike that model for a number of reasons, principally because the case may look closed when it's not, and when you pick up your case your Strad tumbles out, but Sudhaus no longer makes it, and only Chinese copies are on the market. So I refused to change the lock - I didn't want any responsibility towards this guy's Strad if the lock broke - and lost the sale. Just curious: how do you violin makers deal with unreasonable requests?
  22. Maybe more to my point, is can polyester react with an alcohol-based varnish, since alcohol is used to manufacture it?
  23. I try to use only natural materials such as cotton, silk, and viscose (which is a semi-synthetic, a.k.a. rayon). Anything else has been tested extensively before use, with a variety of varnishes and temperature/humidity conditions. The problem here is using a material which to us is completely new and here I have some time constraints. A silk bag however would be an interesting solution. Didn't think of that, because I tend to dislike them, but it might be the lesser of the two evils. :-)
  24. Hello varnish specialists! A violinist wants to order one of my cases, and wishes that the case be lined in a polyester velour of his liking. He has a Strad and a Vuillaume, and personally I'm worried about the reaction that the material may have with the varnish in hot weather. Can anyone provide me with personal experiences? Horror stories? Or is polyester OK? Many thanks in advance!