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Russian violin by A. Leman 1908.

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I would like to share some pictures of a really fantastic violin made by Anatoly Leman in S.Petersburg circa 1908.  The violin sounds just great and it looks very fine, beutiful outlines, rich varnish. I took quick photos using whatever light I had at the moment. Sorry the quality of these pictures isn't very good since I own a simple compact camera and don't have photographic skills. This instrument looks far better life.

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 Sorry the quality of these pictures isn't very good since I own a simple compact camera and don't have photographic skills. This instrument looks far better life.

 

And I thought you worked for "Vogue". :)

 

I think you have serious photographic talent. 

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I, too, would like to know if the violin is authentic.  But not because I doubt it.  I have never seen one, so I'm not passing judgement one way or another.

 

I find the violin pictured to be very nice and it makes me happy to see a noted "experimenter" producing something that good.  Leman is one of those guys who makes the mistake of saying things like, "If Stradivari were alive I should be his teacher."  That always puts a burden on a maker, because we expect too much and are usually disappointed.

 

Vigdorchik took him seriously and writes that Leman analyzed over 4,500 instruments and wrote 15 books on the subject.  He also states that while Leman's instruments don't stand up well against the greatest makers of the past, they "compare favorably in many respects with those of the lesser Italian makers of the 18th century.  Occasionally one finds examples that are so fine in tone quality that one can almost believe that he had mastered the art of Italian violin making."  Also according to Vigdorchik Leman was the most important Russian maker at the beginning of the 20th century.  

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How do you know that it is a Leman?

 It's very tipical work for Leman. I have seen 12 violin made by Anatoly. 5 instruments in US, several in France and Italy. No question about originality of this fiddle.

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I, too, would like to know if the violin is authentic.  But not because I doubt it.  I have never seen one, so I'm not passing judgement one way or another.

 

I find the violin pictured to be very nice and it makes me happy to see a noted "experimenter" producing something that good.  Leman is one of those guys who makes the mistake of saying things like, "If Stradivari were alive I should be his teacher."  That always puts a burden on a maker, because we expect too much and are usually disappointed.

 

Vigdorchik took him seriously and writes that Leman analyzed over 4,500 instruments and wrote 15 books on the subject.  He also states that while Leman's instruments don't stand up well against the greatest makers of the past, they "compare favorably in many respects with those of the lesser Italian makers of the 18th century.  Occasionally one finds examples that are so fine in tone quality that one can almost believe that he had mastered the art of Italian violin making."  Also according to Vigdorchik Leman was the most important Russian maker at the beginning of the 20th century.

I am afraid that I am not familiar with your source Vigdorchik, but he seems to have copied from Lütgendorff, leaving a lot of detail out. Lütgendorff would have (roughly) been a contemporary of Leman, and it is important to know how his lexicon was written pertaining to makers of his epoch. He simply wrote to these contemporaries and asked, with the rather unreliable result that he received, and reproduced (normally uncritically) the marketing pitch from all of this generation, true or otherwise. A good example would be Georg Gemünder, who we discussed here once before. Since much, if not most of the literature we rely on today is plagiarised unacknowledged from Lütgendorff, and presented as self- ascertained fact, one should go back to the source (Lütgendorff) and realise that it is only the advertising pitch of the maker concerned.

For those not familiar with the German language - Lütgendorff writes that Leman was born (1.7.1859 in Moscow) as the son of a doctor/amateur musician/composer and a pianist. He became a soldier, an officer in the Royal engineering corps. Afterwards he studied dentistry. His violin making training was from the books of the time, with trips to Italy, France, Germany etc. (remember; his marketing spleen, a bit like Viola d'Amore learning from Google?) along with the legend that he was the Messiahs of Violin making, and that Strad, were he still alive, could have started with him as an apprentice. This has always left me wondering if he was a talented amateur, or a fruit- and nut case and curious to see some of his work. Since one cannot pin him down to a particular “school” he would seem pre-destinated for label gluers in, faking up any sorts of violins. To know if it is authentic, one would have to see at least a second one (preferably a third, forth etc.), and I only disagree with you, in so far as I think one should always doubt everything :rolleyes:

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It's very tipical work for Leman. I have seen 12 violin made by Anatoly. 5 instruments in US, several in France and Italy. No question about originality of this fiddle.

Sorry missed this post!

Can you point to where one might see one?

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I attached a picture of a Label. The violin has a name, as all instruments made by this, in my opinion, great artist. The name says "Isis". (That's how the owner translated it)  I just googled the name. Isis is a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the patroness of nature and magic.

I don't have the violin at my home any more, so can't take more pictures, sorry.

 

Usually people take out original labels in Leman's violins and put some italian names there. O well, that's what happens often to many great instruments. Some Bergonzis were attributed to Del Gesu, lately they have been recertified.

As far as sound, I played Mozart, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Bartok, Brahms, and this violin seems to be a true concert instrument. I asked owner if he would tarde it for some other violin, but he wouldn't even want to listen about it. He told me that he played on a Strad from some kind of Foundation and he owns a Testore violin, but always prefers A.Leman violin as his full time "tool".

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I attached a picture of a Label. The violin has a name, as all instruments made by this, in my opinion, great artist. The name says "Isis". (That's how the owner translated it)  I just googled the name. Isis is a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the patroness of nature and magic.

I don't have the violin at my home any more, so can't take more pictures, sorry.

I omitted to say in my reply to Will L, that Lütgendorff goes on to report (remember, based on his own correspondence with Leman) that Leman was an industrious writer, philosopher and occultist, which I suppose might explain antique goddesses and the like, quite apart from being an officer in the Royal engineering corps and a dentist. Thank-you very much for posting the pictures. I would still be curious to see a second one should there be the opportunity

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Isaak Vigdorchik is probably well known to many on MN.  He was a Russian, and later American, maker and experimenter.  His major work was "The Acoustical Systems of Violins of Stradivarius and Other Cremona Makers," (1982, About Face Press).  At least one well known American maker has supposedly gotten good results from his ideas.  Having grown up in Russia at a time shortly after Leman's death (1913), Vigdorchik could have obtained a great deal of information independently of Lutgendorff.

 

V. definitely saw at least some Leman instruments, and was very complimentary;  but it is unclear if "I regret that I was unable to examine any other examples of either Leman's work or that of his pupils." meant he didn't see very many, or didn't take apart and study very many.

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Thanks, I have looked up Vigdorchik now. A plate tuner, no wonder he wasn't on my radar :). He was born on 17th April 1929, and studied violin in Moscow 1944-53 and only then started as a violin making autodidact, hardly “shortly after Lemans death”, so I don't see what Lütgendorff-independent head start he might have had. Should you understand German, I would be perfectly happy to copy and send you Baron Lütgendorff's write up, if you would like to compare the information

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Thanks, I have looked up Vigdorchik now. A plate tuner, no wonder he wasn't on my radar :). He was born on 17th April 1929, and studied violin in Moscow 1944-53 and only then started as a violin making autodidact, hardly “shortly after Lemans death”, so I don't see what Lütgendorff-independent head start he might have had. Should you understand German, I would be perfectly happy to copy and send you Baron Lütgendorff's write up, if you would like to compare the information

I expect your father would have crossed paths with him at the VSA.  

 

The point about being in Russia and interested during the time he was there is  that there would have still been people who would have known Leman and talked at length about him.  I consider that "shortly" for my purposes.  But I can't argue that the information he offers can also be found in other sources.  

 

I have my own opinions of "plate tuners" which are no doubt similar to yours, but by the time Vigdorchik wrote his book, he'd been around some very fine instruments, and if he was STILL impressed with what he had seen of Leman's violins, then his opinions can be given some weight.  It's not like Lemans were the only violins he ever saw. 

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We flew to California to purchase a concert level violin for our daughter and found an Anatoly Leman 1910 at Ifshins in El Cerritto, California.  We spent 2 days there and auditioned over 50 violins before she fell in love with the Leman.  We were concerned that the violin is over 100 years old, but we were advised that 100 years is entering prime time for a good violin.  Our daughter loves the violin and Ifshins provided us with provenance.  It beat out everything else except a 200 year old violin that cost much more and would require more TLC than we were willing to assume.

Our investment in the Leman was well worth it.  Our violinist took 2nd place in a statewide contest for 15 year olds.  Her prior forays resulted in two 3rd place and one honorable mention using a modern violin from a fine Pacific Northwest luthier.  Her American violin is now her backup.  The judges commented on the tonal quality she produced with her violin.

Edited by Violinist Dad
Update

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I'm puzzled by the claim that these pictures were taken quickly with a compact camera?  The photographs clearly have the resolution of a full frame SLR or medium format camera.  Pro quality studio lighting too. 

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On 10/15/2019 at 1:24 AM, Violinist Dad said:

We flew to California to purchase a concert level violin for our daughter and found an Anatoly Leman 1910 at Ifshins in El Cerritto, California.

Each Leman violin has its own name. Could you reveal the name of this violin? I would be grateful if you'll post a photo of this splendid instrument.

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