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Instrument making centres


actonern
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I've not read any threads on this forum dealing with the history of how instrument making "centres" come to be.

In my own Province of Ontario for instance, we have an important maker hub in Sault Ste Marie, which is on the Michigan border, but otherwise a relatively small place, in demographic terms. Lots of makers in Montreal, which makes sense as it is a large city, but surprisingly little to see in Toronto, the Country's biggest city.

Unlike other custormer seeking activities, violin makers seem to bunch up in sometimes counter intuitive places.

Any comments?

E

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I've not read any threads on this forum dealing with the history of how instrument making "centres" come to be.

In my own Province of Ontario for instance, we have an important maker hub in Sault Ste Marie, which is on the Michigan border, but otherwise a relatively small place, in demographic terms. Lots of makers in Montreal, which makes sense as it is a large city, but surprisingly little to see in Toronto, the Country's biggest city.

Unlike other custormer seeking activities, violin makers seem to bunch up in sometimes counter intuitive places.

Any comments?

E

In my mind, Ann Arbor is a violin making center. Near a great university. Anyone agree? Disagree? Google "Ann Arbor violins."

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Salt Lake City would be counter intuitive if it weren't for the fact that the school is located here (I don't know what the VM census was when the school opened, but my guess is it wasn't very high). Not exactly a transportation or commerce hub a la many of the old Italian making centers. And so far, I haven't heard about folks floating logs on the Great Salt Lake.

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I've not read any threads on this forum dealing with the history of how instrument making "centres" come to be.

In my own Province of Ontario for instance, we have an important maker hub in Sault Ste Marie, which is on the Michigan border, but otherwise a relatively small place, in demographic terms. Lots of makers in Montreal, which makes sense as it is a large city, but surprisingly little to see in Toronto, the Country's biggest city.

Unlike other custormer seeking activities, violin makers seem to bunch up in sometimes counter intuitive places.

Any comments?

E

Ernie,

As yes...Raymond and all that swirls around him...one of my favorite people and makers. There is a lot of making in the greater Boston area.

Joe

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This is actually a question that would apply to France, too. Apart from the big cities like Paris and Lyon, you will find many excellent makers in Angers (Robin, Denis, Cauche, though it's a relatively small town) and Montpellier (Chaudière, Gilles, Poulain, Becker and others). Montpellier is bigger and may be called a "regional center" as far as the economics goes, but in both cities, I feel that competencies do seem to attract further competencies. At least this is the case in Montpellier, where there was only two or three shops about twenty years ago, and now there are eleven, I think. But many of the younger makers have worked with Chaudière at one time, and later opened their own shop in the same town.

Considering how people easily fly across Europe or America nowadays, I assume that this may work now, especially if you're in the "high-end" segment of the market. A top notch musician looking for a violin would be well advised to come to Montpellier (apart from the natural charms of the city), because he/she will have the opportunity to visit many excellent makers. Some sort of synergistic effect, so to speak.

Cremona comes to mind as a further example of this kind, although history also plays a big role there, too.

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A study of this question would make a great article for Strad Mag, if it hasn't already been done.

Mirecourt, Mittenwald, and Markneukirchen are all less than 8,000 population. Yet, according to the following blurb, Mirecourt, for one, had 43 makers as early as 1635!

Here's a thought - in times when transportation was problematic, concentration of trades had much to do with convergence of trade routes, often dependent on river transport.

Is there any evidence of a common link that M, M and M (and others) served as convergence centres for other trades that might have seeded the luthier concentration?

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If you start with the base line of six (or more?) in the W H Lee shop, and at least three in Beckers', then add all of the people who are ex-WHL (there were 20! makers there when I was) still working in town, and then add all the washouts, dropouts, and grads of the Chicago school who stick around, you might have a pretty big total for Chicago.

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I've not read any threads on this forum dealing with the history of how instrument making "centres" come to be.

In my own Province of Ontario for instance, we have an important maker hub in Sault Ste Marie, which is on the Michigan border, but otherwise a relatively small place, in demographic terms. Lots of makers in Montreal, which makes sense as it is a large city, but surprisingly little to see in Toronto, the Country's biggest city.

Unlike other custormer seeking activities, violin makers seem to bunch up in sometimes counter intuitive places.

Any comments?

E

Montreal is the second biggest Francophone city on the planet with a world renound orchestra, a music college & three universities.

Lots of fiddle players.

My ex-missus (12 years & cost £60,000 to get shot of; you get less than that for murder . . . .) is from there.

my guess . . . . .

ohmy.gifohmy.gifohmy.gif

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I'll guess that Cremona heads the list, per capita. Nothing quite like being able to put "Cremona" on the label.

Beyond that, it gets a little blurry. Ann Arbor is well represented, considering a paltry population of around 150 thousand.

I'm a little pressed for time right now, but I'll try to come up with some good Ann Arbor jokes later. It's not like we couldn't have a long thread poking fun at Ann Arbor. :)

Not a whole lot to criticize the Salt Lake folks about. Had some good times there. I'd rather make fun of California and Los Angeles, since living there was one of my worst nightmares. :lol:

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Here's a thought - in times when transportation was problematic, concentration of trades had much to do with convergence of trade routes, often dependent on river transport.

I.e. Central place theory

But why wasn't Rome the violin capital? "All roads lead to Rome," and Rome was the center of the church, the largest patron of the arts in the "Golden Age" of the violin.

The validity of the central place theory may vary with local factors, such as climate, topography, history of development, technological improvement and personal preference of consumers and suppliers.

That is, history matters. Chicago IS a central place, and likely replaced New York City as the violin center in the U.S. after 1900 (or post WWII? Just a guess). Gemünder left Boston for New York because he couldn't earn a living in Boston, in his day. But why Ann Arbor? Probably a "history matters" story. It is between two central place-cities, and a university town and arts central place.

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I'll guess that Cremona heads the list, per capita. Nothing quite like being able to put "Cremona" on the label.

Beyond that, it gets a little blurry. Ann Arbor is well represented, considering a paltry population of around 150 thousand.

I'm a little pressed for time right now, but I'll try to come up with some good Ann Arbor jokes later. It's not like we couldn't have a long thread poking fun at Ann Arbor. :)

Not a whole lot to criticize the Salt Lake folks about. Had some good times there. I'd rather make fun of California and Los Angeles, since living there was one of my worst nightmares. :lol:

Lest anyone mistake my earlier post as being critical of Salt Lake, I was just making the point that there's not always a "conventional" explanation for the congregation of violin makers in a particular area. Though in the case of Salt Lake, the continued high quality of the school and the natural surroundings are probably sufficient explanation.

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When it comes to Ann Arbor, most of the people here were originally my hires, or Alf and Curtin hires.

I came here from Los Angeles to start a repair department for "The Firm" in 1976. I'm not clear on why Alf and Curtin chose this town. I don't think any of us who are primarily makers sell very much locally. It's a pretty small town, although we actually have a "rush hour" now. :D

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