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Becoming a reputed expert


zefir68
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Ann Arbor has a world class university with an excellent music school. Ann Arbor also has world class violin makers, repairers, appraisers, with all of those people interested in further research, judging from their attitudes and output. Ann Arbor is a natural place for an institute to spring up for furthering knowledge in the building, history, recognition, preservation, and evaluation (tonally and historically) of violins. All the pieces are there; there's plenty of expertise there. It's a matter of all those different people and institutions (or parts of institutions) being brought together in some kind of coordinated way.

That is no small task, and probably beyond any one person to do alone, but would be a very worthwhile task if a core of people got together to try.

It is highly unlikely that a major accredited university like UM would be open to place a non-degreed person on their faculty. Therein lies one major obstacle - academic credentials. It's a "closed shop" environment for PhD's.

But so what? I do not understand why you want to merge all of these entities when there is no need for such!

Please share with us your academic experience.

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I greatly respect those who cultivate true expertise. But as others have said, dealing and instruments are progressively getting more widely dispersed, along with pseudo expertise.

That is why I’m more interested in developments that allow a very select handful of individuals to have a broader reach and to participate (at least partially) in a higher percentage of “evaluations”.

The idea that any process can deterministically stamp out ‘experts’ is dangerous (as I believe Roger said), as well as ridiculous.

Some professions use societies and various schemes of certifications and levels to supposedly assure qualification, but these are really more indicators of ability with internal group politics and conformity to process than of attainment or expertise. Again, the long term opinion of colleagues and the market are probably the only real guards against the ‘pseudo’ experts.

While the skill of identifying violins is sometimes likened to identifying people, it’s really more like being able to identify kinship and lineage.

A skill that many have:

“Hey Luke! I remember you. I saw you at an auction a few years back.”

But much rarer:

“Luke! Very nice to meet you. Oh hey, I can tell just be looking at you who your father was. You’d probably better sit down for this.”

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Whatever these arguments about the future of expertise might bring. In my opinion, for the forseeable future, access to significant numbers of instruments is the key. And because access to a sufficient number of instruments has always been the province of dealers, it has always been dealers that have controlled and regulated expertise.

Roger,

Your argument for the primacy of dealers in violin connoisseurship is persuasive, but overlooks the fact that some of the real advances in recent violin connoisseurship have come from non-dealers. Three of those non-dealers are worth a closer look:

Duane Rosengard: It is through Rosengard's efforts that a once important violin maker, Lorenzo Guadagnini, has disappeared entirely, and now Lorenzo's supposed instruments need to be re-evaluated. Rosengard achieved this as a researcher in archives, not by stylistic examination of instruments. If left to dealers, I wonder if the violin world would or would not still have a Lorenzo Guadagnini as a violin maker, and thus avoid the awkwardness of re-evaluating a whole set of violins.

Roger Hargrave: (Correct me, if I'm wrong, but I assume that you are not dealing, in any substantial way, in any other instruments than the ones you make, yourself. You are thus primarily a maker who sells your own instruments to clients, but are not dealing in others' instruments ) I don't think anybody has done more for making the violin world aware that violin making in classical Cremona was more of a shop oriented enterprise than it was the efforts of the one individual whose name appears on an authentic label. It is, to a large extend, through your efforts that we, the general public interested in violins, have come to understand that the name on an authentic and original label of a classical Cremonese violin may be more of a designation of the shop from which the violin came, and not necessarily the designation of the person whose hands made the violin.

Stewart Pollens: Pollens is an interesting example of the good that can occur when dealers are challenged, even when the challenger might be wrong. Pollens comes from a museum curator background, not from a dealer one. His formal challenge to the authenticity of the Messiah probably represented the doubts of many. The careful refutation of Pollens' challenge by the larger community of experts (dealers and dendrochronologists) made public the reasons one should believe that the Messiah is a Strad, and convinced more than just Pollens of its authenticity. Pollens did us all a valuable service in helping to clear up the issue of the Messiah.

The question then becomes, how does the violin world promote the activities of non-dealers such as you, Rosengard, and Pollens? Some of those activities may be perceived as antithetical to the interests of dealers.

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Duane Rosengard: It is through Rosengard's efforts that a once important violin maker, Lorenzo Guadagnini, has disappeared entirely, and now Lorenzo's supposed instruments need to be re-evaluated. Rosengard achieved this as a researcher in archives, not by stylistic examination of instruments. If left to dealers, I wonder if the violin world would or would not still have a Lorenzo Guadagnini as a violin maker, and thus avoid the awkwardness of re-evaluating a whole set of violins.

Ski... I think I addressed this much, much earlier in the thread. While his work is independent, Duane has an association and support of several expert/dealers. Roger had connections with (worked for) major shops in the past, and Pollens worked with Biddulph and others on several projects before staring down the Messiah. There are a number of others who do independent research in the industry as well. It ain't a new concept.

Concerning the example you cite above, please note that Jim Warren had a bit to do with supporting the research and the publishing of that book.

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Roger,

Your argument for the primacy of dealers in violin connoisseurship is persuasive, but overlooks the fact that some of the real advances in recent violin connoisseurship have come from non-dealers. Three of those non-dealers are worth a closer look:

Scholarship naturally develops with time, even without your institutional help. Lüttgendorff back in 1922, for instance had G.B. Guadagnini as two seperate people (one in Milan and Parma, the other in Piacenza and Turin). The helpfull contribution from non-dealers is always welcome, and is much larger than you probably imagine. This also happens on a much smaller local scale. I have, for instance a freind who is a “heimatforscher” in upper Austria and reserches the biographies of the 18th C Upper Austrian vms. I wouldn`t dream of attesting an upper austrian violin without showing it to him first. He isn`t a “dealer” either, but a retired civil servant. I think it is about time you came out and explained your distain for the violin trade, or does the gratefull aceptance of such help negate their efforts?

Would you believe Roger more or less if he dealt with old instruments?

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Hello to All,

As I read this fascinating thread, I remember an experience I had years ago:

I was, at the time, just finishing my graduate studies and had the opportunity to spend much of a Summer working with two very highly experienced, and very highly regarded senior colleagues.

Both were significant people in the trade I was hoping to join, but one of them is very highly regarded as a founder of his academic specialty...

As these two presented their ideas to a large group, the less experienced of the two often referred to the "Master" as an "expert" in his field.

Each time it happened, I saw the older gentleman wince.

Eventuially, the person using the term "expert" noticed the wince, and said "Surely you view yourself as an expert... Everyone in this room does!"

The Master responded by saying simply, "No, I do not." The room fell silent, and after what seemed a long pause, he continued "But, I do believe that I know a bit more than some others who believe that they are..."

(I am now 67. The older gentleman is now 92, and indeed, he has cut back. He now comes into the lab only three days each week.)

All the best,

A.C.

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I think that part of the reason that players and other non violinmakers don't understand where we stand on this issue is that they have no concept of the visual skills which are part of our training. When making ones first violins you start by trying to carve archings according to a template or a drawing and present them to your teacher who takes a pencil and proceeds to circle the bumps and hollows and tells you to fix them. You look at what they've circled and try to do what they said despite the fact that you really can't see the bumps. After some time you start seeing the problems after they've been pointed out and further on you start to see the bumps for your self without help. This visual skill comes after months of practice and it is only then that you can be instructed in the fine points of how archings differ and how to refine them for specific purposes. I once had the experience of seeing a first attempt at a violin by a dealer from whom I had often heard opinions about arching and modeling and realized that the man simply could not see what he was carving. The members of the Francais family, the Beares and the Moenigs were sent to violin making school as preperation for entering their family businesses not because they were expected to make violins for a living but because it was considered basic training for an ability to recognize and evaluate instruments.While there were and are violin experts who were never trained as V.M.s (Bob Bein) they are the exception that proves the rule. I think the finest experts are those who start as good vioinmakers and can see and understand the nuances of shape, design and creativity, then study technical restoration and can realistically evaluate condition and preservation issues and finally involve themselves in high end dealing in order to know the market. None of these things can realistically be tought in an acedemic setting.

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Interesting thoughts, Nathan. Anyone who has been a pro violin maker for many years has spent thousands of hours looking at archings, outlines, ffs etc., often watching subtle changes or differences as the work progresses. The difference between "not right yet" and "right" might be two knife cuts on an ff hole.

That doesn't make one an expert at identification, but would tend to reinforce one of the requisite skills.... the ability to notice subtle differences which others might miss.

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I think it is about time you came out and explained your distain for the violin trade, or does the gratefull aceptance of such help negate their efforts?

Would you believe Roger more or less if he dealt with old instruments?

Jacob,

I don't have any disdain for the violin trade. If you're reading that into my posts, you're giving the most negative possible interpretation to them, and an unjustifiably negative one. There are basically only two ways I would buy a fiddle, from a well regarded dealer whom I trust or directly from the maker him/herself. So, if it's an old fiddle that I'm buying, it would have to come from a trusted dealer.

By the way, I'm glad to hear that you also believe that people outside of violin dealing can offer some very valuable contributions to violin dealing. You actually make use of such experts.

Concerning Roger, I believe Roger not because of the way he earns or has earned his living but for the information he has provided about violins. Whether he provides that information as a dealer of old instruments or not is relevant to me only in that it shows that someone who is, at least currently, not an active dealer can still be a respected violin connoisseur.

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Ski... I think I addressed this much, much earlier in the thread. While his work is independent, Duane has an association and support of several expert/dealers. Roger had connections with (worked for) major shops in the past, and Pollens worked with Biddulph and others on several projects before staring down the Messiah. There are a number of others who do independent research in the industry as well. It ain't a new concept.

Concerning the example you cite above, please note that Jim Warren had a bit to do with supporting the research and the publishing of that book.

I completely agree that dealers have done laudable work in promoting violin research, letting the truth come out as it may. All I need to do to confirm that is open the contributors section of the very best current violin books and see the top dealers listed there, among others.

The question I would have is whether the dealers would initiate the research, as opposed to supporting someone else who comes up with the idea for the research. Research happens first of all because someone has the need to satisfy a question. That someone may very well not be a dealer.

On the other hand, research is brought to completion because someone else is willing to support the researcher, without substantively interfering with the findings. In terms of violin research, that supporting role is currently played, to a large part, by dealers.

The advantages of a university setting for violin research would be that people who don't or can't attract the attention of dealers for research support would still be able to conduct meaningful research.

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I completely agree that dealers have done laudable work in promoting violin research, letting the truth come out as it may. All I need to do to confirm that is open the contributors section of the very best current violin books and see the top dealers listed there, among others.

The question I would have is whether the dealers would initiate the research, as opposed to supporting someone else who comes up with the idea for the research. Research happens first of all because someone has the need to satisfy a question. That someone may very well not be a dealer.

On the other hand, research is brought to completion because someone else is willing to support the researcher, without substantively interfering with the findings. In terms of violin research, that supporting role is currently played, to a large part, by dealers.

The advantages of a university setting for violin research would be that people who don't or can't attract the attention of dealers for research support would still be able to conduct meaningful research.

I sure would like to know from where you get your notions about philanthropic centers.

Again, I kindly ask what is your academic background that gives you claim to expertise in this matter?

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Again, I kindly ask what is your academic background that gives you claim to expertise in this matter?

PhD Linguistics, Indiana University, 1992.

MS Computer Science, Indiana University, 1986.

MA Linguistics, Indiana University, 1976.

MA German Literature, Ohio University, 1972

BA German Literature, minor in music, Indiana University, 1970

University teaching experience, as full time faculty: Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, 1 year. DePauw University, 2.5 years. Butler University, 4 years.

Teaching experience as graduate assistant: Ohio University, 2 years. Indiana University, 4 years.

OK, Mike. Now it's your turn to lay it out. What are your credentials in this issue? You owe me that with your incessant demands for my credentials. My posts don't require credentials. The contents are what they are, with or without academic credentials. But obviously academic credentials are important to you.

By the way, I'm not claiming expertise in any matter. Expertise is not needed for anything I've posted in this thread. Maybe you can be specific about where I've claimed expertise.

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PhD Linguistics, Indiana University, 1992.

MS Computer Science, Indiana University, 1986.

MA Linguistics, Indiana University, 1976.

MA German Literature, Ohio University, 1972

BA German Literature, minor in music, Indiana University, 1970

University teaching experience, as full time faculty: Rose Hulman Institute of Technology, 1 year. DePauw University, 2.5 years. Butler University, 4 years.

Teaching experience as graduate assistant: Ohio University, 2 years. Indiana University, 4 years.

OK, Mike. Now it's your turn to lay it out. What are your credentials in this issue? You owe me that with your incessant demands for my credentials. My posts don't require credentials. The contents are what they are, with or without academic credentials. But obviously academic credentials are important to you.

By the way, I'm not claiming expertise in any matter. Expertise is not needed for anything I've posted in this thread. Maybe you can be specific about where I've claimed expertise.

Dang! I should have known that you are Steve Csik.

Well, you sure leave me in the dust with degrees. I have only two - I skipped the masters and went on to my PhD. :) However, I will not toot my own horn about tenure, promotions, grants, awards, deanship, etc.

Steve, the reason I was asking you details about your academic experience is that you said a number of inaccurate things about academe. Knowing your background, I now understand why you said as much.

Anyhow, Congratulations.

Stay Tuned.

Mike

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and Blacksmithing....

Thinking of this thread a lot,

Ever notice how are own REs readily deny the title?Going out of their way to make disclaimers on almost everything,making statements like "IMHO"...and..."I'm not sure but"...and my personal favorite ..."I'm not an expert"?

In my own field of artist blacksmith,we have a similar set of criteria for "reputed expert",I have met quite a few of them. One thing that I have observed over the years, is that AS A GOAL, to become a REPUTED EXPERT is not entirely possible, as we have no direct control over other peoples thoughts,only influence. There is no direct path that will guarantee the outcome. Becoming a brain surgeon or rocket scientist would be easier.Becoming a reputed expert is another story entirely.

I'm fully convinced that the only way at this point in history to become a reputed expert in any field,is for one to steer clear of any goal orientation in favor of simply following the fascination of the medium,and never to think "I've arrived". In fact the mere thought of becoming a reputed expert could in reality destroy any chance an individual might have of achieving this status. The title of RE can only be conferred from the outside,by peers,and the quickest way to turn anyone off is to self proclaim expertise.Part of the problem with any institutional approach is that the notion of having "arrived" when in fact the graduate is only starting out.

So the up shot?Put your head down and do the work.If you have the right stuff, a little luck and... 3-7 years of school or apprenticeship, to become a journeyman,another 3-6 years of journymanship,to become master, then a lifetime of followup,get Published in relevant journals and get vetted by peers.....a fellow might have a shot.

Right!

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Roger,

Your argument for the primacy of dealers in violin connoisseurship is persuasive, but overlooks the fact that some of the real advances in recent violin connoisseurship have come from non-dealers. Three of those non-dealers are worth a closer look:

Duane Rosengard: It is through Rosengard's efforts that a once important violin maker, Lorenzo Guadagnini, has disappeared entirely, and now Lorenzo's supposed instruments need to be re-evaluated. Rosengard achieved this as a researcher in archives, not by stylistic examination of instruments. If left to dealers, I wonder if the violin world would or would not still have a Lorenzo Guadagnini as a violin maker, and thus avoid the awkwardness of re-evaluating a whole set of violins.

Roger Hargrave: (Correct me, if I'm wrong, but I assume that you are not dealing, in any substantial way, in any other instruments than the ones you make, yourself. You are thus primarily a maker who sells your own instruments to clients, but are not dealing in others' instruments ) I don't think anybody has done more for making the violin world aware that violin making in classical Cremona was more of a shop oriented enterprise than it was the efforts of the one individual whose name appears on an authentic label. It is, to a large extend, through your efforts that we, the general public interested in violins, have come to understand that the name on an authentic and original label of a classical Cremonese violin may be more of a designation of the shop from which the violin came, and not necessarily the designation of the person whose hands made the violin.

Stewart Pollens: Pollens is an interesting example of the good that can occur when dealers are challenged, even when the challenger might be wrong. Pollens comes from a museum curator background, not from a dealer one. His formal challenge to the authenticity of the Messiah probably represented the doubts of many. The careful refutation of Pollens' challenge by the larger community of experts (dealers and dendrochronologists) made public the reasons one should believe that the Messiah is a Strad, and convinced more than just Pollens of its authenticity. Pollens did us all a valuable service in helping to clear up the issue of the Messiah.

The question then becomes, how does the violin world promote the activities of non-dealers such as you, Rosengard, and Pollens? Some of those activities may be perceived as antithetical to the interests of dealers.

Wrong! I have known Duane for many years. He is certainly a wizz-kid, (I don't like the word genius). Like dendrochronologists he has been extremely helpful to violin experts with his insight into the lives and times of the makers of northern Italy. He began by researching the life of Ceruti because he has a bass by Ceruti. He visited many top flight connoisseurs during this time and eventually they recognized his talent and his enthusiasm and they all exchanged information at the highest level. I am not sure how far his expertise extends with recognizing violins generally but I would certainly trust his viewpoint on Guadagnini. Nevertheless, everything he knows about identifying instruments comes more rather than less from dealers. Without them he would only know about the history and life of Ceruti. Moreover it was dealers that financed his regular trips to Italy to study the archives. As far as I know he has never had a university education that relates in any way to history or instruments. He was trained as a musician and he is a good one.

Now me. Fortunately, I have already said in this post that, "I have never considered myself an expert. I feel more like a observer who occassionally comments upon this enigmatic art. In my professional life I have always shied away from giving opinions." However, what little I do know has come via my directly working for high-end dealers or from my regular association with them.

Stuart, who I also know fairly well, really began his work with violins when the del Gesu exhibition happened at the Met in New York. I really like him, and I think that he has made some important contributions to the world of expertise. Initially he mainly did this with his magnificent photography. As well as the Guarneri book, his Strad mold book is highly important. However I think his work on the Messiah has done more harm than good to a great instrument and a great institution (the Ashmolean), not to mention the generous gift of the Hill Brothers. As far as I know he too is now a dealer. It remains to be seen how good an expert he becomes. But without his extensive contact with top end dealers beginning in the 1990's, he would not have had the information that he now possesses. He certainly did NOT pick this up in any serious way through his museum service. In fact those curators that do know anything have, (if there are any) probably without exception picked up this information via dealers either first or second hand. As I recall I said this at the onset. “At present, the only way to become a connoisseur of violins is to become seriously involved in dealing. The single viable alternative to this path lies in restoring antique violins for a prolific dealer.” Perhaps this last sentence should have read, “…by close association with a dealer or dealers.”

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Maybe you can elaborate about what I denied.

Certainly:

you say (post #136) I don't have any disdain for the violin trade. If you're reading that into my posts, you're giving the most negative possible interpretation to them, and an unjustifiably negative one.

You nevertheless continually try to disqualify the violin trade re. violin expertise/research, although it is this very violin trade, who through the centuries have provided us with almost everything we know about the subject. Evidently in your scheme of the world they have some sinister ulterior motives and are not to be trusted.

For the sake of argument it would be easier to split this question in two:

1. Everyday working out where this or that instrument comes from.

2. Genealogical research.

1. Everyday working out where this or that instrument comes from:

This involves learning the basics from a tender age, i.e. what school nailed the necks, which didn’t, who used a mould and who didn’t and how do you see the difference, who carved and who fitted the bar, from where can you expect which shapes, corners, details etc. etc. etc. and recognising such. Sorting out these old violins is a pan-european exercise, and Cremona is only one dot on the map. This basic education appears to be neither your forte or to have your particular interest and is something that needs constant daily practice (a bit like playing the violin). A school course would merely be able to provide a skimpy introduction, as almost everyone who regularly posts here, who has spent there entire adult life in the violin trade has told you already.

2.Genealogical research

You are apparently under the impression that a “researcher” and a “dealer” are necessarily two separate individuals. This is actually almost the exception to the rule (although there are notable exceptions). You write (#137) research is brought to completion because someone else is willing to support the researcher, without substantively interfering with the findings. In fact the “dealer/maker” (should he not also be the researcher himself) is not interfering with anybody’s findings, but providing the expertise to enable “findings” to make sense. This has always been the case: Probably the best violin researcher ever, Lütgendorff (a painter) would never have achieved his encyclopedic opus without the support of the violin makers/dealers of the time. His extremely accurate and detailed accounts of all the old Prague violin makers were entirely taken from the scrupulous research of his friend, the violin maker/dealer Ed. Emanuel Homolka. Ditto in Vienna with Jaura. Both Homolka and Jaura had done this research out of pure personal interest, since many violin makers/dealers, then as now, are violin nuts, and are simply personally interested, almost consumed by the subject.

You also seem to have an impression of researching in archives which leaves me thinking you have never been in one yourself. The normal case is that you spend days and weeks searching, without finding anything of any interest. The only time when archival research gets noticed in Idaho sitting rooms is the exceptional case when something of interest gets found.

Re. Duane: Roger has already spoken regarding Duane, who is anything but a contrast to those in the trade. He has no inhibitions to ring and ask for information. I well remember spending three days in the Vienna archives looking for traces of (the Viennese) Mrs. Del Gesu for him. Unfortunately the Archive (next door to the Stephansdom) got hit by a bomb in the Second World War and doesn’t seem to have been tidied up since. One day new insights should surface there.

Quite what you wish to achieve in a University setting, unsullied by any perceived commercial interest: (your post#137)

The advantages of a university setting for violin research would be that people who don't or can't attract the attention of dealers for research support would still be able to conduct meaningful research.

without the basic knowledge (point 1. above), and without the knowledgeable support of the trade and to what extent this would be “meaningful”, is your secret.

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Like what?

Steve,

Your notions on finding and developing philanthropic sources, curriculum development, accreditation, and selecting faculty come to mind as being a bit naive. As I said, I see no need for replacing the excellent institutions and practices that now exist without interference by an academic bureaucracy.

Sorry, as a former and very active member of academe, I just see you chasing a solution to find a problem. Nevertheless, this is just my opinion. ;)

Best,

Mike

PS: I am not being snarky with this question, but am truly interested: Did all those degrees help you get a job? In what? We read how degrees do not guarantee employment in the field of study. So Steve, you have my interest. :)

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The advantages of a university setting for violin research would be that people who don't or can't attract the attention of dealers for research support would still be able to conduct meaningful research.

I have talked to both Brigette Brandmair and Jean-Paul Echard about the process of getting instruments to study for their [separate] varnish research. This is by no means an easy process, even for those who have impeccable credentials and university backing. Without the support of dealers and players it would be even more rare and difficult to have the chance to study and learn from these great instruments.

In my experience those who know and appreciate great instruments have been very willing to share knowledge and when possible access to the instruments. Those who have secrets have something to hide. Expertise is both learned and earned.

on we go,

Joe

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Wrong! I have known Duane for many years. He is certainly a wizz-kid, (I don't like the word genius). Like dendrochronologists he has been extremely helpful to violin experts with his insight into the lives and times of the makers of northern Italy. He began by researching the life of Ceruti because he has a bass by Ceruti. He visited many top flight connoisseurs during this time and eventually they recognized his talent and his enthusiasm and they all exchanged information at the highest level. I am not sure how far his expertise extends with recognizing violins generally but I would certainly trust his viewpoint on Guadagnini. Nevertheless, everything he knows about identifying instruments comes more rather than less from dealers. Without them he would only know about the history and life of Ceruti. Moreover it was dealers that financed his regular trips to Italy to study the archives. As far as I know he has never had a university education that relates in any way to history or instruments. He was trained as a musician and he is a good one.

Roger,

I'm not arguing that Rosengard did or did not get help from dealers. All one has to do is look at the list of subscribers to the Guadagnini book to see that there were dealers who supported him.

I do want to point out that Rosenguard is not a dealer, yet he has achieved a level of expertise without being a dealer. Did a dealer initiate the research into Guadagnini or was it Rosengard? I honestly don't know. You might.

"I have never considered myself an expert...."

Oh, please. That's your opinion against the opinion of all the rest of the violin world. You seem to agree that you are not a dealer, and that was my point. You are an expert and you are not a dealer.

However, what little I do know has come via my directly working for high-end dealers or from my regular association with them.

Nobody's arguing that dealers aren't a good source of violin information. And one would hope that if violin connoisseurship could find a place in a university setting, dealers would offer their support to such an institution, just as dealers have offered support to individuals such as you and Rosengard.

However I think [Pollen's] work on the Messiah has done more harm than good to a great instrument and a great institution (the Ashmolean), not to mention the generous gift of the Hill Brothers.

I would respectfully disagree. When Pollens brought the issue up, I didn't really have a firm opinion one way or the other on the Messiah. Questions about the Messiah had come up before Pollens. But Pollens, the academic that he is, clarified the reasons for doubting the Messiah. And experts, including dendrochronologists whose home base is the university, refuted Pollens' concerns. I, for one, (and judging from other posts in this thread, there are others) now firmly believe that the Messiah is a Strad. The Pollens/Messiah episode changed minds in favor of the pro-Strad position. That can only be to the good.

“At present, the only way to become a connoisseur of violins is to become seriously involved in dealing. The single viable alternative to this path lies in restoring antique violins for a prolific dealer.” Perhaps this last sentence should have read, “…by close association with a dealer or dealers.”

There's a false dichotomy being presented here: People are assuming we have to choose between university based connoisseurship and private dealer based connoisseurship, as if the two couldn't possibly work together. Furthermore, if a university based connoisseurship program could be established, that would not mean that private dealers would be forbidden from conducting further research on their own. Could a university based connoisseurship program work? People are dismissing it without it even having been tried.

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