Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

Michele Deconet


GoldenPlate

Recommended Posts

  • Replies 249
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I strongly support John Dilworth Bonhams article as I have seen several instruments with a central pin, indicating a at least close relation to Peter Guarneri of Venice.

Agreed, especially concerning the body of work and the central pin... and I believe this detail (concerning Deconet) was also referenced in Bruce's publication on Montagnana (pre-Pio).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Peter Guarneri of Mantova also had a double career as musician and maker, and therefore a limited but high quality output of violins.

It is also true that some makers vary a lot in style and consistency during a life time of work.

If it is indeed true that Peter of Mantua produced "a limited but high quality output of violins", he must have been extraordinarily talented indeed. Today we are led to believe it takes a great deal of experience to produce something tonally inferior to what Peter apparently did consistently, and with ease, with very little practise at all. Of course, we can excuse it by saying he lived in a time "closer to the source", but then Stradivari wasn't the only "source", and other traditions produced fine sounding instruments also. If the facts are as stated, that Peter of Mantua worked both as performer and luthier, this is, to me, the essential problem to be explained, i.e., how does one produce a great sounding violin with limited time/practise/work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Suddenly, in a Kensho-like moment of epiphany the answer arrived: Sawzall Tchaikovsky Concerto.

I seem to remember a topic a while back about mechanically "playing in" a new instrument, perhaps someone should produce a jig and attachments to harness a Sawzall for this........ :)

If it is indeed true that Peter of Mantua produced "a limited but high quality output of violins", he must have been extraordinarily talented indeed. Today we are led to believe it takes a great deal of experience to produce something tonally inferior to what Peter apparently did consistently, and with ease, with very little practise at all. Of course, we can excuse it by saying he lived in a time "closer to the source", but then Stradivari wasn't the only "source", and other traditions produced fine sounding instruments also. If the facts are as stated, that Peter of Mantua worked both as performer and luthier, this is, to me, the essential problem to be explained, i.e., how does one produce a great sounding violin with limited time/practise/work.

I think that what may be lost sight of, in the electrically lit and climate controlled conditions where most of our posters are sitting, is that 17th/18th Century luthiers couldn't work 24/7/365. They likely, in many cases had time on their hands at night and in winter in particular. One can, however, still play by torch/candle light and below 65 F/18 C when one can't do fine detail work by eye or reliably glue/varnish. People like Peter and Deconet could likely have been making violins by day and playing gigs by night at taverns or rich folks parties. The picture of them having to steal time from luthiery to cruise the streets with a tip jar is probably off base. Also, given the sparse toolkits and freehand work habits I've observed folk luthiers using, it could have been a portable activity as well, not to mention free time to play while a stock of oil varnished violins is drying. Just a thought.

Edit-- Forgot something else, this is 18th Century Catholic Italy we're talking about. Saint's days and festivals, workshops might be closed but people in the piazzas and campos would be wanting music to dance to.......

Link to comment
Share on other sites

this is, to me, the essential problem to be explained, i.e., how does one produce a great sounding violin with limited time/practise/work.

...possibly by hiring a full time professional to produce consistent results and then simply putting your name on the product? Maybe "Deconets" are actually an equally valuable rose made by another name (e.g., Serafin?). Or by being a full time luthier and amateur violinist and then travel around the country on music tours with the goal of promoting your instruments. Perhaps Deconet was a band groupie of some sort? Maybe he was popular because he provided the "oregano"?

It seems a very tall order to do equal justice to both violin playing and violin making simultaneously.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that what may be lost sight of, in the electrically lit and climate controlled conditions where most of our posters are sitting, is that 17th/18th Century luthiers couldn't work 24/7/365.

Thanks for furthuring my argument. Given limited time and apparently limited experience, he must have been quite the talented guy to make a violin that today performers are willing to pay $$$$...$ to acquire.

@Stephen - If you have an argument re the existence of Michele Deconet you should take it up with Chris Reuning. It was his firm what was selling the Deconet viola I mentioned earlier for $450K.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're behind the times. :)

There is a specific hand seen in accepted Deconet instruments... so it's maybe a good idea not to jump to conclusions concerning Pio's "he isn't a maker" statement and wait to see more complete information (from archival research & expertise) in future publications.

Hi to everybody. i have been invited to partecipate to this forum. What to say? I am also waiting and looking for future publications giving evidence and proof that Deconet was a violin maker. I hope these new books can produce at least one document stating Deconet was a violin maker.

In the meanwhile I prefer to believe to Deconet personal declarations (several) where he says ( handwritten declarations) he was a violin player and not a violin maker.

Coming to the "expertize" of his violins here again Invite interested people to READ what already I wrote:

"....Even though all his instruments are clearly of Venetian school, huge stylistic differences still persist, both in form and workmanship, with great range in the quality of execution, revealing the hand of different authors. The presence of a limited number of instruments by him between 1750 and 1760 only reveals a privileged source of supply rather than his direct involvement in the art of violin making. The instruments bearing his name produced during the second half of the eighteenth century do not witness the evolution and stylistic coherence typical of any artist, but rather seem to be the product of a heterogeneous production with contradictory characteristics which can only be explained the fact that that the source (or rather, the sources) kept changing during the years. "

According the "specific hand" of Deconet It would be interesting for me, just an example, to know if the Deconet viola of maestro Giuranna published in several books (including mine) as one of his best instruments can be attributed to the same hand present in the Deconet viola stored at The Royal Accademy London. The 2 violas were made, according their labels , quite in the same year (2 years difference)

Here following, just for amateurs, some others data on Deconet and his family (only players) from Venice archives. Sorry I have no time to translate into English:

1743, 10 gennaio - Michel de Conet, parlando di sè in terza persona dichiara: “ ….e dopo si portò a Venezia dove

ha dimorato sino al presente, non però di continuo, essendo di quando andato in varie città della terra ferma per

causa della sua professione di suonatore….”.

1743,10 Gennaio - Pietro Ligi, sonador di Aboè: “ lo conosco da 12/13 anni in qua detto Michiel colla occasione

della professione di sonador, essendo stati sempre camerati assieme andando per la terra ferma, cioè Brescia,

Bergamo, Crema, Mantova”.

1743, 10 Gennaio - Pietro Ferrari: “Conosco da circa 14 anni …detto Michiel (..) che praticava le Piazze, sonando il violino e l’ho anco veduto di passaggio in Mestre, Padova, Treviso”. Stati di libertà c.13 b.221

1743, 30 Gennaio - I° Matrimonio di Michele Deconet con Anna Chiaparota

1743, 10 Novembre - morte della moglie Chiaparota

1743 Novembre - arrivo a Venezia di Michele Deconet da un viaggio fuori città

1744, 6 Luglio - II° Matrimonio di Michele Deconet con Paola Stecherle

1745, 9 Febbraio - nascita a San Giminiano di Matilde Giacomina figlia di Michele Deconet ( muore 10 Feb 1812)

1745 - casa in Corte Spinella affittata a “Michiel Deconetti canta canzon in Piazza”. ( Prov alle Pompe b.16 , 1745 san Giminiano)

1747, 3 Aprile - nascita a San Giminiano di Giovanna Antonia, figlia di Deconet

1749, 17 Aprile - nascita di Antonio Deconet, figlio di Michele

1751 - nascita di Iseppo Deconet, figlio di Michele, fuori Venezia

1755, 6 Giugno - nascita di Teresa Maria Angela. figlia di Michele Deconet

1756, 2 Marzo - nascita di Francesco Paolo, figlio di Michele Deconet

1757, 9 Giugno - nascita di Zuanne Batta, figlio di Michele

1758 -1760 Michele Deconet dichiara: “ detta mia figlia ( Teresa) da che nacque, eccettuato dall’anno quarto di sua

età (1758) all’anno settimo (1760) che fu condotta da me lontana da questa città, dimorò a Venezia e nella mia propria abitazione”.

1761 Michele Deconet va ad abitare in casa di GioBatta Locatello, strazariol, alla Bragora

1764, 3 Febbraio: “Michiel Deconet suonator di violino2

1764, 1 marzo - matrimonio di Matilde Deconet figlia di Michele, con Francesco Vecelli di Tommaso

1768, 7 Maggio - matrimonio di Antonio, figlio di Michele Deconet

1770 Aprile - Novembre viaggio di ritorno di Gaspare Soranzo ( e probabilemte Michele Deconet) da Genova, Alessandria, Milano, Bergamo, Brescia, Verona,Vicenza, Padova.

1770, 3 Dicembre - nascita di Angela Fortunata, figlia di Antonio Deconet

1771, 14 Febbraio - GioBatta Lucatello: “ Saranno dieci anni che detta Teresa (dal 1761), unitamente al Padre

(Michele Deconet) abita, nella propria mia casa”.

1771, 14 Febbraio - “Michele de Conetti, suona il violino”.

1771,17 Febbraio - matrimonio Teresa Deconet, figlia di Michele, con Gasparo Soranzo, sonadore

1773, 18 Agosto - nascita di Sebastiano Antonio, figlio di Iseppo di Michele Deconet

1773 - nascita di Pietro Santo, figlio di Antonio Deconet

1775 “Antonio ed Iseppo Deconet” - Lista Sonadori in Giustizia Vecchia b.210

1780, 26 Febbraio Girolamo Zanchi, cameriere: “ saranno quindici anni che incominciai a praticare alla Bragora, e

che li conosco ( Michele Deconet e Maria) andando frequentemente dal detto Michiel a studiar di violino in casa del quale praticò da sempre detta Maria…”

1780, 6 Marzo - III° matrimonio di Michele Deconet con Maria Briganti

1792 “Antonio ed Iseppo Deconet” - Lista Suonadori

1793 ,11 Marzo - matrimonio di Teresa Deconetti di Michele e Gasparo Soranzo. Testimone Angelo Deconetti,

figlio di Antonio Deconet

1799, 18 Giugno - morte di Deconet alla Bragora , “di anni 88 infermo da 4 mesi”

1799 - “Antonio ed Iseppo ed Angelo Deconet” - Lista Suonadori

1801 - “Antonio ed Iseppo Deconet” - Lista Suonadori

1803 - “Antonio ed Iseppo Deconet” - Lista Suonadori

1804 - “Antonio Deconet ( muore 1804) ed Iseppo Deconet” - milizia da Mar b.608 c.149

Anagrafe 1805 - “Giuseppe Deconetti anni 54 sta in Castello s Martino, suonator di Violino”

Anagrafe 1805 - “Catterina Deconetti del fu Michele anni 60 impiraperle”

If I well remember the existence of a member of Guadagnini family gas been questioned with very less arguments and instruments available than what is today available on Deconet. It seems to me that Deconet can not be the object of a logical and scholar discussion.

Coming to Dilworth and his articles on Deconet, I had with him some years ago an interesting and scholar discussion via e mail which conclusions seems after that have been forgotten by him in his following article published in Brompton. I also remeber Stewart Pollens replay on Dilworth Strad article on Deconet in the Strad. I invite the readers to go and read it (Strad Soundpost, one month after Dilworth article...)

I have just finished my third book on Venetian school of makers in the XVI century and I have to say that even the Cicilianos, reputed Venetian viola da gamba makers, were not probably existing in Venice on those years.....

I invite people also to read the interesting article appeared on Strad October 1972 written by Maurice Youngman on the discoveries of Mr. Paul that was at the time investigating in the Italian archives . I quote an his passage: "One intriguing discovery was that Deconet , who has always accepted as a maker of violins, was in fact a street singer who was also a hawker of violins.These violins bore Deconet's label but were made for him by contemporary Venetian makers. This may account for the fact that experts have noted a resemblance between his violins and those of Montagnana, Guarneri, etc..."

This passage written in 1972, poses, according to my opinion, a serious question on what afterthat has been said on Deconet, as also on the succesive expertize on the instruments attributed to him,

I conclude saying that my 3 books (more than 1000 pages with data on venetian makers 1490 - 1870) costed me 12 years of my life. I have been glad to do this work, sharing the results with the violin comunity without profict (I covered only expenses for printing).

Stefano Pio

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@Stephen - If you have an argument re the existence of Michele Deconet you should take it up with Chris Reuning. It was his firm what was selling the Deconet viola I mentioned earlier for $450K.

Oh no worries (and no argument - I'm not qualified for argument as my knowledge base is far too limited; I'm just an enthusiast). It's just an intriguing topic worthy of further study IMO. Sometimes it seems the business aspect and the research aspect of topics like these don't always happily co-exist. The link I cited is but one point of view on a nuanced issue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for furthuring my argument. Given limited time and apparently limited experience, he must have been quite the talented guy to make a violin that today performers are willing to pay $$$$...$ to acquire.

You've quoted me out of context. Neither their time nor experience would have been any less than most working luthiers, they would simply have been very talented players (and so getting gigs) and more motivated than most luthiers to go play gigs after their day jobs instead of sitting idle guzzling chianti and listening to the music.

...

It seems a very tall order to do equal justice to both violin playing and violin making simultaneously.

Granted, such genius is rare. I would compare the feats of certain well documented composers such as Herschel, who built telescopes, published scientific papers, and discovered Uranus, or the Russians such as Rimsky-Korsakov who were research chemists and professors. Successful polymaths always astound specialists.

Edit-- One example known to me personally is a quite accomplished violinist locally who balances his playing with a successful medical practice. He performs on the violin at times the other sawbones are off bashing little white balls with a club or busy frightening seagulls with a Kevlar sheet. :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that what may be lost sight of, in the electrically lit and climate controlled conditions where most of our posters are sitting, is that 17th/18th Century luthiers couldn't work 24/7/365.

This hardly seems out of context to me. In contrast to today's workers, luthiers in the 18th. century certainly had a lot less "time on their hands", and that fact alone makes Peter's exceptional work all the more interesting. As has been said in this thread just today, he made few violins, yet they were exceptional instruments. This, for me, is the point that needs addressing.

In fact, if that is truly the case, it gives support to the theory that he employed a specialist, and only did the detail work himself, inserting his own lables into the finished product.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

. I hope these new books can produce at least one document stating Deconet was a violin maker.

In the meanwhile I prefer to believe to Deconet personal declarations (several) where he says ( handwritten declarations) he was a violin player and not a violin maker.

http://www.cozio.com/Instrument.aspx?id=5016

Label: "Michele Deconet fecit Venetiis Anno 1764". I render that as " Michele Deconet made [this] [in] Venice [in the] year 1764". Everybody please forgive my ignorance, but in historical research generally, a document is any written or printed material, e.g., in the Smithsonian Air & Space collection documentation on the some projects such as the V-2 include scrawlings on dinner napkins, parts invoices, notes on envelopes, etc. In Roman archaeology, conclusions have been drawn from obscenities scrawled on sling leads excavated at battle sites. What in the area of string instruments specifically makes a statement in a marriage record acceptable testimony, but a statement on a label found inside an instrument itself negligible testimony? I realize that some documentation is more acceptable and some less, but from where I sit, either, neither or both could be questioned. To me the label, if genuine, is a personal statement by the maker. Granted, we all ignore the darned things generally, but here we are not talking about a mass produced forgery of an 18th. century label stuck in an 1880's dutzenarbeit, but a contemporary statement by the person who claimed to have produced the violin. I sense an impasse here..... Like someone observed in another thread about a similiar ambiguity "It can't be Schrodinger's cat", but in that case it turned out to be as good as. Maybe we're looking at a "both and" here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What in the area of string instruments specifically makes a statement in a marriage record acceptable testimony, but a statement on a label found inside an instrument itself negligible testimony?

The obvious answer to your (retorical?) question, is that getting married involved a priest, civil servants, parents (if alive) and witnesses, whereas I have never heard of a public notary witnessing the glueing in of a label.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The obvious answer to your (retorical?) question, is that getting married involved a priest, civil servants, parents (if alive) and witnesses, whereas I have never heard of a public notary witnessing the glueing in of a label.

Ummm, my theory is that Deconet was avoiding the workshop tax. Struggling people in poor neighborhoods never lie to public officials, right? (now there's a rhetorical question :lol: ).

Edit-- The gentleman in question was an expat, a former merc, and perilously close to being what carnival people are generally esteemed as by the more fortunate nowadays. I would estimate that he and his associates who testified for him had about as much respect for the laws of the Venetian Republic as Casanova did.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Without wanting to veer of subject; It was fashionable back then for young German gentlemen to do a several year long “tour“ abroad, which they often wrote up and published. The most famous of these was of course Goethe, although there were many others. I found an interesting passage in one such “Reisebericht” of a Herr Maier, who recorded his experiences of a three year stay in Venice in his publication:

Johann Christoph Maier, Beschreibung von Venedig, Leipzig 1795 (2. Auflage) Band II, Saite 340-341

Hier zu lande werden wenige oder gar keine gute Instrumente verfertiged. Klavier und Flügel lässet man aus England oder Deutschland kommen, und zieht alljährlich eine Menge Geigen aus Tyrol die ein bischen eingerichtet, und dann für Kremoneser verkauft werden……..

Which I would translate as:

Johann Christoph Maier, Description of Venice, Leipzig 1795, 2nd. Edition, Volume II, Page 340-341

In this country, few if any good instruments are made. One has upright and grand pianos sent from England and Germany and, every year has a load of violins sent from Tirol, which are finished a little, then sold as Cremonese….

So much for labels as archival documents :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In this country, few if any good instruments are made. One has upright and grand pianos sent from England and Germany and, every year has a load of violins sent from Tirol, which are finished a little, then sold as Cremonese….

So much for labels as archival documents :)

As amusing as the result would be, I'm not going to follow that line of reasoning to the obvious false conclusion. Very interesting, though. Thank you.

I think we've reached the impasse I was speaking of earlier. Something is falsified in the history of M. Deconet. If you follow the argument from authority (meaning here, the official records), the census and other records are true and the evidence of the violin labels is false. If you "follow the money", Deconet had nothing to gain from mislabeling violins, because the attribution to himself, if it followed him back to Venice would have made him liable to be investigated for back taxes from running an unlicensed workshop, whereas his claiming to be a sonadore instead of a luthier would have hopefully put him "under the radar" for the taxes levied on violin workshops. For some reason, people historically tend to cheat on their taxes, so I find the latter more likely. There is, however, no unimpeachable evidence either way. Believe what you want to, the buyers and sellers are going to :D .If I find myself having to write about this (as I may), I'll give both sides and call it unresolved.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Mr Pio,

Thank you very much for your facinating post on Maestronet earlier. You say (amongst much else):

"I invite people also to read the interesting article appeared on Strad October 1972 written by Maurice Youngman on the discoveries of Mr. Paul that was at the time investigating in the Italian archives"

I have every Strad magazine here, since 1925, and have looked through the whole of 1972 without finding this article.Is it possible that you could have given the wrong date?

Many thanks

I`m looking forward to your new book

Best wishes

Jacob Saunders

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Mr Pio,

Thank you very much for your facinating post on Maestronet earlier. You say (amongst much else):

"I invite people also to read the interesting article appeared on Strad October 1972 written by Maurice Youngman on the discoveries of Mr. Paul that was at the time investigating in the Italian archives"

I have every Strad magazine here, since 1925, and have looked through the whole of 1972 without finding this article.Is it possible that you could have given the wrong date?

Many thanks

I`m looking forward to your new book

Best wishes

Jacob Saunders

Dear Sir

I have sent to your e mail the full article . Probably i did a mistake : it should be in Strad August 1972 and not October

best regards

Stefano Pio

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Sir

I have sent to your e mail the full article . Probably i did a mistake : it should be in Strad August 1972 and not October

best regards

Stefano Pio

Many thanks Mr Pio, your Mail just came, before I turn to that, I found a lovely "letter to the Editor" p.159 of "The Strad", Sept. 1972, which reads:

I was interested to read the letter from Maurice Youngmann in the August (1972!) edition of the Strad, and am glad that he recorded his freindship with Mr. & Mrs. E.M.W. Paul. In his letter, however, he says that it is doubtfull whether Paul’s work will ever be published, and I am writing to say that, on the contrary, his book is alive and well.It is only the preasure of other work that has slowed its progress, but in fact it is more than half completed and publication should not be very long delayed.

The scope of Paul’s researches covered Venetian instrument makers from about 1500 to the time of Napoleon, and he did indeed discover many interesting facts about their lives – not only the violin makers, but also the more numerous lute and guitar makers who worked in Venice. I hope that the eventual production will be worthy of Paul’s efforts. – CHARLES BEARE, 179 Wardour Street, London W.1.

I'm glad I didn't put a deposit on a subscription copy! :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The fame and value attached to Deconet instruments is attatched to the builders craftsmanship, whether Deconet was the actual builder or not, a lot of great makers had their violins made by their workers and apprentices, they still have their value

What Deconet is famous for now is his instruments and their quality, the instruments arent going to get any worse if we find out he was more of a dealer than a maker

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To me, the only importance of the question is historical accuracy. However they got here, the quality of the instruments is obviously unaffected, though the prices would be. The market (any market) is an exercise in social psychology and the upper two thirds or so of the violin market is particularly based on intangibles and perceptions, which IMO is why we discuss it so much and often so heatedly. I refer you to the continual arguments here about "true value" and the like, which often seem to me to be as little bounded by rationality and decency as many other discussions of the subjective (e. g.: religion).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For those Maestroneters without access to all old Strad magazines, I reproduce the "Letters to the Editor" here:

The late Mr. E. M. W. Paul’s researches

I am grateful to Mr. Charles Beare for his assurance that some progress has at last been made towards the publication of Paul’s book on the Italian makers.

It is true that Paul’s researches covered the lives and works of the Venetian liutai, but the scope of his researches covered a much wider area than that of Venice alone. Research work was also carried out in Bologna, Brescia, Cremona, Florence, Mantua, Milan, Piacenza, Rome, Turin, etc.

The unique value of Paul’s work lies not only in the photostat copies of the records but also in the fact that he was able to translate the “old” Italian in which they were written into English.

The value of this accomplishment will not be appreciated unless it is realized that it is comparable to an Italian being able to translate the English of Chaucer into modern Italian.

As an example: among the mementos I have of Paul is a photostat of the records of the Venetian Guild to which the liutai had to belong. The entry relates the appearance before the Guild of Peter of Venice.

I asked several language experts including the Italian Institute of Belgrave Square to translate it for me, but without success. Here is Paul’s translation:―

11th (Paid)

“Appeared Master Pietro Guarnieri (who) is a lauter in his house (at home) and gave notice to be here within a month in order to pay his entrance fee”.

I. Piero Guarnieri, Lauter.

A reader of The Strad has written to ask me what other important discoveries were made by Paul besides the details I gave of the dates of Goffriller’s birth and death.

One intriguing discovery was that Deconet, who has always been accepted as a maker of violins, was in fact a street singer who was also a hawker of violins. These violins bore Deconet’s label but were made for him by contemporary Venetian makers. This may account for the fact that experts have noted a resemblance between his violins and those of Montagnana. Guarneri, etc.

By far the most important discovery made by Paul was the identity of the Cremonese maker to whom Stradivari was apprenticed. It has been assumed that Stradivari was the pupil of Nicola Amati, but the only documentary proof of this assumption was said to be one single label on which are the words “Alumnus Nicolai Amati Facebat Anno 1666.”

Paul gave me his word that in the archives of Cremona he had discovered indisputable evidence that Stradivari was apprenticed to Francesco Rugeri.

This is one reason why I have been anxious to see Paul’s book published, or this discovery alone will give to him, posthumously unfortunately the fame he so richly deserves.

I regret that Mr. Beare did not answer my query about the alteration of the certification of the cellos from Carlo Bergonzi to Matteo Goffriller. I had hoped he would have been able to provide the answer, for Paul discovered many interesting facts about the life and work of Goffriller, but when his book is published many mysteries will be solved.―MAURICE YOUNGMAN, Illingworth, Halifax.

The late Mr. E. M. W. Paul’s researches

I was interested to read the letter from Maurice Youngman in the August edition of the Strad, and am glad that he recorded his friendship with Mr. and Mrs, E. M. W. Paul. In his letter, however, he says that it is doubtful whether Paul’s work will ever be published, and I am writing to say that, on the contrary, his book is alive and well. It is only the pressure of other work that has slowed its progress, but in fact it is more than half completed and publication should not be very long delayed.

The scope of Paul’s researches covered Venetian instrument makers from about 1500 to the time of Napoleon, and he did indeed discover many interesting facts about their lives―not only the violin makers, but also the more numerous lute and guitar makers who worked in Venice. I hope that the eventual production will be worthy of Paul’s efforts.―Charles Beare, 179 Wardour Street,

London, W.1.

Matteo Goffriller

I would like to add my name to the tribute Mr. Youngman (Letters, August 1972) pays to the late E. M. W. Paul, whose research in Italy was so tragically interrupted. His valuable contribution to our knowledge of Goffriller and the Venetian makers should certainly not remain unknown. However, this contribution also included work in Britain and, in addition to his writings, Mr. Paul’s keen interest in Italian instruments produced over the years some rare finds. Among his discoveries was a hitherto unknown Goffriller violoncello passing under―at that time―a more illustrious label of Andreas Guarneri, one of the three or four names most frequently found in Matteo’s instruments, and pre-dating it by some twenty years. Together with that acknowledged Goffriller expert, Mr. Wurlitzer, they were able to pinpoint the instrument to the early period of the master. Goffriller’s violoncellos before 1700 are rare and greatly sought after, not only due to the fame of the Casals Bergonzi- Goffriller but also because, as Mr. Youngman points out, almost all would have acquired a Cremonese label at some time or another while the name of their creator remained relatively obscure well into the twentieth century. It is even conceivable that Goffriller himself would have put some of these labels into his early creations, a though it is generally accepted that in a number of instances his work remained unsigned. There is no doubt however that he has not received full credit for many of these instruments even now when his stature, especially as a violoncello maker, is greater than those he may have copied or sought to emulate.

His early instruments were invariably large like the old Stradivari and Amati patterns before him, though the majority were of course reduced in size since. This particular example shows signs of considerable wear and tear but in spite of this possesses immense strength and resilience. The arching of both tables is quite pronounced and it is interesting to note that one of the most typical features are the beautifully cut f holes. Although now of great appeal to collectors, Goffriller’s cellos stand out firmly as players’ instruments. Over many years of close association one’s admiration grows with the realization that they are not temperamental, sound well in any hall, with any strings, under any atmospheric conditions, and can always be relied on to produce their best.―R. B. Vocadlo, London, N.W.6.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...