|Rare & Fine Instruments
The Ifshin Collection of Fine Violins
We at Ifshin Violins have always been proud of our extensive collection of fine string instruments and bows. We currently are fortunate to have an unusually large selection of fine violins. If any of these fine violins are of interest to you, please give us a call. We will be delighted to give you more information.
Jean Baptiste Vuillaume is widely recognized as one of the finest 19th century luthiers, leaving an indelible mark on the French tradition and influencing generations of violin makers and dealers throughout the musical world. His career is marked by a relentless drive to construct the perfect instrument, combining the classical Italian tradition with contemporary French style. He had access to one of the largest caches of old Italian instruments, which he studied assiduously to recreate the great masterpieces, at an affordable price. He was so successful in fact that he counted among his many prizes at World’s Fairs and International Exhibitions, the Cross of the Legion of Honor, the highest honor in France. Never satisfied to rest upon his laurels, Vuillaume unceasingly strove for superior quality throughout his career, constructing together with his talented staff of luthiers nearly 3,000 superb instruments.
When Vuillaume moved his shop to 3 rue de Ternes in 1858, at the age of 60, his intention was not to retire, but to focus his energies on constructing the finest instruments for concert musicians, collectors, and European nobility. After working in the heart of Paris for 30 years, Vuillaume had fashioned a flourishing business through careful attention to clients of all incomes, brilliant innovations in the craft, and a unique synthesis of contemporary French elegance inspired by the old Italian masterworks of Stradivarius and Guarneri del Gesu. His customers included great musicians like Piatti, Servais, and Paganini, great pedagogues like De Beriot, Savart, and Dancla, and nobility from Spain to Russia. He brought this international fame with him to his new workbench in the outskirts of Paris.
He set up his private studio in the attic of his atelier. It was here that he personally finished and varnished all the instruments that were to bear his flamboyant signature. Not satisfied with allowing an instrument of merely competent quality to go forth from his workshop, he guaranteed that the archings would facilitate the silky power desired by Europe’s best musicians, that the scrolls were masterfully conceived and sculpted, that the purfling was perfectly laid- in short that his instruments were up to his highest of standards both tonally and aesthetically. He took particular pains to ensure his unique varnish recipes and application techniques were not copied by competitors. He not only varnished each and every instrument produced in his atelier, legend has it he stuffed his apron with aromatic herbs to cover up the scent of individual ingredients.
Made in 1873, this violin is one of the last instruments constructed in Vuillaume’s workshop, and the accompanying sales receipt and certificate show it was last sold by the important Parisian firm of Roger & Max Millant in the 1950’s. The scroll is well balanced, always elegant. The turns on the volutes are harmonious and easy, spiraling fluidly toward a softly rounded eye. The purfling is perfectly set with ebony, gracefully framing the instrument. The one-piece back is of a magnificently flamed piece of maple. The top is of a typically wide-grained piece of dense spruce, ideal for a glowing, soaring sonority. Ever the perfectionist, Vuillaume selected all the wood for its’ aesthetic as well as tonal properties. The instrument is modelled on the work of Guarneri Del Gesu and is dressed in a rich golden red varnish with a soft rose colored hue. Like many Vuillaume violins, this nimble instrument is possessed of a powerful response, giving the player total musical control. The tone is nuanced in color and rich in resonance, perfect for a concert violinist or chamber musician.
Article by Raphael Gold
All photographs by Richard Ward
Giovanni Baptista Ceruti
Giovani Battista Ceruti was the finest and most influential Cremonese maker of his generation. He linked the glorious years of Cremona’s Golden Age with the Cremonese renaissance that he helped instigate. Considered by many to be the last echo of Cremona’s glorious Golden Age of violin making, he was also the first of a new dynasty of Cremonese luthiers. Together with his son, Giuesppe Antonio, and grandson, Enrico, the Ceruti family was to revitalize the Cremonese tradition. This lineage continued through the Antoniazzi and the Bisiach families, and beyond. Despite beginning his career as a luthier nearly four decades after his birth, G.B. Ceruti was surprisingly prolific, and gained considerable notoriety in and around Cremona. His instruments were wildly popular amongst the musicians of Cremona’s Teatro. As the masterpieces of the Cremonese luthiers steadily found their way to wealthy centers of music like London and Paris, the need for locally constructed instruments, possessed of a certain austerity, grew. G.B. Ceruti responded to this need in kind, producing well crafted instruments, frequently using plain, inexpensive woods. The absence of flashy imported materials in his work notwithstanding, his instruments are much appreciated by today’s connoisseurs and concert violinists.
When Ceruti’s first violins appeared around 1795, Cremona’s zenith had long passed. The greatest makers died even before Ceruti was born: Antonio Stradivarius in 1737, Guarneri del Gesú in 1744, and Carlo Bergonzi in 1747. Only Stradivarius and Carlo Bergonzi had children who worked in the craft, but their production did not reach the artistic heights of their forebears. A weak local economy may explain the stagnant industry. The descendants of the great masters frequently opted to work in other industries in order to make ends meet, as was the case with Nicola Bergonzi. With fewer active luthiers there was less competition, and the tradition fell into decay. Because these instruments lacked the aesthetic qualities of the past, the wealthy clientele dwindled. Among Stradivari’s clients were European nobility, Kings, and Counts, while makers after 1750 were far less exclusive. Finally, by 1776, virtually all the great instruments had been sold to other parts of Italy or abroad, as had all the tools and forms of the old dynasties. The situation was not all bleak. There were still makers with knowledge of how instruments were made in past generations. Such was the state of events for Cremona’s great luthier tradition when Ceruti began to establish himself as a builder of instruments.
Though pundits had for years proclaimed G.B. Ceruti to be a pupil of Lorenzo Storioni, recent research has cast doubt on this claim. On the surface, the claim is reasonable. In the late 18th century, Storioni was the most prolific fabbricatore di violini in Cremona, even training an apprentice, Giovanni Rota. There is an unmistakable similarity of Ceruti’s instruments to Storioni’s work, particularly in the choice of woods. Moreover, Ceruti’s shop gained importance just as Storioni ceased operations in Cremona. All these clues led many to believe a natural teacher-student relationship between these two important makers. Yet when Ceruti started studying violin making Storioni was not in Cremona. And when Storioni returned to Cremona, Ceruti was already well-established, having taking advantage of the absence of a violin shop in Cremona. At the end of his life, Storioni was destitute and did not have much of a shop to pass on. In all probability, Ceruti, like Storioni, was largely an auto-didact.
Born in a village near Cremona, Ceruti was registered as a weaver, only drifting into violin making when he was about 40 years old. His earliest training may have come in the person of an amateur violin maker and local nobleman, Count Alessandro Maggi. Though his earliest lessons in violin making were from a hobbyist, Ceruti may also have been influenced by the Bergonzi brothers, Nicola and Carlo II. The brothers were not prolific, but they had the guidance, if not the finesse, of their illustrious family. The Bergonzi’s were deeply interwoven with the Golden Age. Carlo Bergonzi, the grandfather of the abovementioned brothers, worked closely with the Rugeri and Stradivari families. Though the skills of the youngest generation were inferior to that of their ancestors, much of the accumulated knowledge of the craft remained and could be passed on. Moreover, experts including Dmitry Gindin note a similar style between G.B. Ceruti’s first instruments and those of the Bergonzi brothers, indicating some professional relationship between them.
Ceruti’s personal style developed quickly, exhibiting a unique touch far surpassing the quality of the contemporary Bergonzi family after a few short years. This violin, from 1802, is a classic example of his maturing personal artistry. Made about seven years after his earliest instruments appear, the woodwork is masterfully conceived, confidently and quickly sculpted by a seemingly experienced hand. The scroll is deeply carved, the edges of the turns sharply defined by a thin ridge. The overall aspect of the scroll is striking and charming, at once singular in style while reflecting some Storioni influence. He uses large, conspicuous pins to secure the upper and lower blocks, not attempting to hide the structural necessity of crafting an instrument. The purfling is well laid, and rather close to the edge, giving it a delicate yet robust appearance. The wood of the back is of local extraction, chosen for its tonal qualities. Contrasting sharply with the tightly flamed wood of the scroll, the back appears even plainer. The upper bouts are quite round, lending the corners an almost diminutive look. Covering the instrument is dark golden-brown varnish, flashing the spirit of Cremona’s Golden Age. The condition of the varnish is remarkable; it is at once translucent and radiant, showing off the wood’s simple beauty. Just as the outer condition is superlative, the violin still bears the original label from 1802. It is always exciting to see the original label inside a Cremonese instrument. The tone is rich with depth, giving the player the feeling that the instrument has more to offer should it be needed. It projects powerfully with nuanced warmth and responds with equal quality.
Article by Raphael Gold
All photographs by Richard Ward
Fermo, mid 19th Century. Postacchini spent his entire career in Fermo and was mostly self-taught. This wonderful violin was made in the maker’s best period. The tone is superb, powerful, resonant and responsive. This would be an excellent choice for a soloist and is tonally one of the best violins we have had in recent years.
Carlo Giuseppe Testore
Milan, 1697. Carlo Giuseppe is generally considered the most important maker of the Testore family, despite his limited production of instruments. Born in Novara, he moved to nearby Milan in 1683 where he worked with Grancino before setting up on his own. He was focused primarily on tonal qualities in his work, selecting woods for their superior acoustic potential. Today, collectors and concert musicians alike praise his instruments for their sonorous qualities.
This instrument has a wonderful, warm tone, a great deal of depth and rich overtones- a real joy to play. It is a particularly fine example of his work, in a good state of preservation, and comes with certificates from W.E. Hill & Sons and Kenneth Warren in Chicago.
Milan, 1702. Members of the Grancino family are generally considered the best makers in 17th and 18th century Milan. Tonally, this fine violin is exceptional. It has that "old Italian" sound with clarity, brilliance and a great deal of power and projection. This would be a wonderful violin for a professional or soloist.
Francois Louis Pique
Before Pique set up his workshop in Paris, in 1777, French luthiers constructed instruments on homegrown, Stainer inspired models. Pique changed the course of French violin making by adopting the Stradivari model for his violins, giving them more projection than those of his predecessors. His workmanship was also more exacting, giving his instruments a more sophisticated aspect in addition to tonal superiority. Over the centuries, great violinists such as Louis Spohr, Ysaye, and Ole Bull owned and performed on a Pique.
This violin is a good example of his mature work, at once Stradivari inspired and highly individual. The instrument is full of tonal colors, giving the player expressive freedom. It would be ideal for a concert musician and is accompanied by a certificate from Vidoudez.
Milan, 1900. Bisiach was probably the most important figure in Italian violin making of his era. His instruments dating from 1900 and before are considered by experts to be his best. This is an exceptional example of his work, in wonderful condition and a superb tone. It is one of the finest examples by this maker we have ever had.
Georges Chanot was not only one of the most important dealers in Paris but also one of its greatest violin makers. Especially prized are his violins (like this one) modeled after the work of Giuseppe Guarneri. In fact, his reproductions were so masterful that they fooled a number of experts. This is an exceptional example of Chanot’s best work. The tone qualities are superb, as we have come to expect from this master’s violins.
Florence, c 1800.
Vincenzo Carcassi was the son and pupil of the great Tomaso Carcassi, one of the best and most important of Florentine makers. He also worked with his uncle, Lorenzo. Vincenzo’s instruments, like those of his father and uncle, are well crafted on a full model. This violin has rich, dark tone and is accompanied by a D’Atilli certificate.
Carlo Antonio Testore
Milan, 1764 (7/8). Instruments of the 18th Century Milanese makers are always in demand because they represent excellent value in a fine old Italian violins. Their clients were not as wealthy as those from Cremona and Venice, so they had to use plainer wood and work more quickly, yet the tone quality of their instruments ranks with the best of the great old Italian masters. This violin has a wonderful "old Italian" sound. This is an excellent choice for the professional musician looking for a slightly smaller instrument of quality.
Charles Adolphe Gand
Like so many of the finest luthiers, Charles Adolph Gand grew up in a family with a long lineage of important makers. His pedigree can be traced back to Nicolas Lupot of Orleans, arguably France’s most influential maker. After studying with and working for Francois Pique, the first of the French makers working in the “modern” style, Lupot set up in Paris in 1798. His accolades include an appointment to the Imperial Chapel in 1813, luthier to King Louis XVIII in 1816, and a commission as luthier to the Paris Conservatory of Music in 1817, to whom he would make an instrument for the winner of the annual competition. In 1802 he hired Charles Francois Gand, known as Gand Pére, as apprentice.
Charles Francois Gand, the father of Charles Adolph Gand, was himself a first rate luthier. Having learned the “modern” style from his master, Gand Pére constructed instruments on the Stradivarius model rather than the Stainer or Amati models. In other words, he preferred instruments with a flatter arching which achievied a powerful sound fit for contemporary concert halls. In 1820 he acquired the shop of another influential Parisian maker, Koliker, building a large atelier of international importance. Though he was considered a rival to the thriving businesss of Vuillaume and Lupot, he maintained a good relationship with Lupot. When Lupot retired in 1824, he passed all his official appointments to Gand Pére.
Charles Adolph Gand, also known as Gand Frére, took over his father’s shop in 1845. Steeped in a rich tradition of France’s best luthiers, Gand flourished as one of the finest makers of his generation. Working with his brother Eugene, he won 1st prize at the Paris Exhibition in 1855, receiving the prize directly from Napoleon III, the emperor of France. In 1862 he was made Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, the highest honor in France. A source of national pride, he was also the official luthier to the Paris opera and to the Emperor. Because he was an acclaimed expert of old instruments he had limited time to make instruments. Yet his entire production is of the highest quality, and is sought after by collectors and professional musicians alike.
This violin is exemplary of his production. All the woodwork is exquisite and elegant, the varnish a rich red with a touch of antiquing. The tone is clear and fresh with plenty of power. It is in exceptional condition and would be fit for a collector or professional musician.
Milan, 1926. Musicians from all over the world flocked to Bisiach’s shop. At the time it was one of the most important shops anywhere. The quality of the instruments produced there were the very best. This is an outstanding example with a responsive tone with depth and character.
Mantua, 1951. Gaetano Gadda was the only student of the great Stefano Scarampella and his instruments show many of the qualities of his master. This fine violin was made during his best period after he had broken away from his master's style and had found his own way. The tone is brilliant and quite responsive and is in superb condition.
Florence, 1921. A student of his younger brother Serafino Casini, Lapo was mostly known as an expert restorer in his native Florence. He built instruments on his own model. He was particularly interested in classical varnish recipes, later publishing a book on the subject. This violin, made in 1921, is a fine example of his unique style. This violin is accompanied by a Dmitry Gindin certificate.
Fine old French labeled J.B.Vuillaume
Caressa & Français
Paris, 1920. For many decades, the firm of Caressa & Français was perhaps the most important and respected violin dealers in Paris. Many of the most important makers worked there. Musicians and collectors from all over the world came there. This beautiful violin is in wonderful condition and is one of the finest examples from these makers we have ever seen.
We are pleased to offer this superb violin by Paul Blanchard of Lyon, one of the great 19th century violin makers. Born in Mirecourt, the cradle of French violin making, he began his studies at the age of 15. He subsequently trained with and worked for some of France’s most prominent luthiers, including Darte and Silvestre. At the fresh age of 19 he established his own shop in Lyon, where he had a long and storied career. The most prominent instrument maker in Lyon during his lifetime, he was appointed official luthier to the Lyon Conservatory, the Lyon theaters, and the Lyon orchestra. This particular instrument represents the highest grade of Blanchard’s violins, and is signed on the label as having been exhibited at the World’s Fair of 1889 in Paris. It is in near mint condition, with richly translucent varnish covering a gorgeous wood selection. The tone is superb, the instrument easy to play. It would be ideal for a collector, orchestral musician or chamber musician.
Paris 1881. After studying with Galliard, Paul Bailly worked with the great J.B.Vuillaume in Paris. He then worked in other major cities in France, Belgium, England and even in the U.S. He won numerous medals at important competitions. After his travels, he settled in Paris where he had a successful career. His work is esteemed and highly sought after. This beautiful violin would be a great choice for the musician looking for an instrument with a full, warm tone with great richness.
Venice, 1938. Despite passing away at the young age of 38, Iginio Siega was an important maker of the modern Venetian school. He studied with his father, Ettore Siega, who was a student of the great Eugenio Degani. Even before Iginio took over his father’s workshop he won several prizes in competitions including Rome in 1920 and 1923. He also won the prestigious Vermeil medal in Padua, 1932. This violin is characteristic of his work; spontaneous in craftsmanship and silky in tone
Pieve De Cento, 1946. Nullo was the third son and student of Carlo Carletti. A talented violin maker, Nullo was also an electrician and mechanic, even patenting an electric guitar prototype. Because of economic struggles he made only about 200 instruments, all of high quality. His work is best known in this country due to the family's relationship with Joseph Settin in New York. This violin is a classic example of his work and has a clear, singing tone.
Bordeaux, 1900, no. 99. Resuche worked for famous shops both in Paris (Gand & Bernardel) and Lyon (Diter) before establishing his own shop in Bordeaux. This beautifully made violin has a full, rich tone.
Gennaro De Luccia
Miami, 1976. Gennaro De Luccia came from a large family of violin makers that spanned three generations. He came to America in 1951 and worked at the famous Rembert Wurlitzer shop along with his brother Vincenzo plus some of the best makers of the mid 20th. century. This violin was dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi, according to the maker’s internal inscription.
Turin, 2006. Ada Quaranta’s instrument are in great demand because of their great quality. She studied at the Cremona school beginning in 1990 after receiving her diploma in violin performance. After graduation, she worked in some of the most important shops in Germany and France. She has won numerous awards for her work. We are pleased to be able to offer this fine example of her work.
Ravenna, 1976. Cavalazzi was a student of Domenico Veggi and established his workshop in the late 1920’s. A highly respected maker, he also did extensive research in varnish chemistry. This violin has a full, warm tone of great quality.
Buenos Aires, early 20th century. Rovatti studied with Enrico Ceruti before emigrating to Buenos Aires in 1885 where he joined many other fine Italian makers who were encouraged to move to Argentina. This violin has a brilliant, responsive tone.
Possibly by George Gemunder
Lucca, 2003. Michel Eggimann has become noted for his exquisite copies of the work of Giuseppe Guarneri. Born in Switzerland in 1963, Michel made his first violin in 1982 and graduated from the Cremona violin making school in 1986. He worked with Bissolotti and Curtin & Alf before opening his own workshop in the Tuscan town of Lucca in 1991. This beautiful violin has a rich, warm tone.
Bologna. 1984. Magrini has become one of the most important makers of the Bologna school and this violin displays the best of the elegance and craftsmanship of the Bologna makers. This violin is a reproduction of a violin by Ansaldo Poggi.
Stentor, Nicolas Vuillaume
Mirecourt. The Stentor violins were made in the workshop of Nicolas Vuillaume to be sold in the shop of his brother, J.B. Vuillaume, in Paris, as well as other shops. The demand for the Stentor instruments has been increasing dramatically in recent years due to their excellent workmanship and tone. This example has a powerful, highly responsive, vibrant tone.
Cremona, 1998. Conia studied with Pietro Sgarabotto, G.B. Morassi and Francesco Bissolotti in Cremona. Since his graduation in 1972, he has worked not only as a master luthier, but also as a professor at the International Violin Making School in Cremona, specializing in varnish and restoration techniques. He has also served as a judge in several prestigious violin making competitions. This violin is characterized by a rich, translucent red-brown varnish and a tone to match. With great playability and projection, this instrument would be ideal for a fine violinist.
Bordeaux, 1909. Résuche worked in Paris with Gand and Bernardel and at Lyon with Justin Diter before settling in Bordeaux in 1897. This attractive violin has a big, full bodied responsive tone.
Mozzani was a guitar prodigy as a youth who began constructing plucked instruments. He opened up a successful workshop making plucked and bowed stringed instruments. The workshop employed several talented luthiers, and received instruction on violin making from the renowned Carletti family. This violin was made after moving to Bologna, where the business thrived. It has a sweet tone.
Cento, 1918. A guitar prodigy, Mozzani opened up a successful workshop producing plucked and bowed stringed instruments. The workshop employed several talented luthiers, and received instruction on violin making from the renowned Carletti family. This violin was made during their best years, while the workshop was still in Cento. It is very easy to play and has a clear, singing tone.
French, labeled Nicolaus Amatus
From the workshop of N. Vuillaume, Mirecourt.
Nicolas Vuillaume, borther of Jean Baptiste, made fine instruments for his brother as well as for others.
Rome, 1922. Trained as a cabinet maker, Aureli began his activity as a luthier in 1910, when he was 40 years old. Working in Rome, his native city, he won medals at competitions in 1917 and 1919. He produced about 60 violins. This attractive violin is in excellent condition and has a warm, sweet tone.
Robert Beyer’s shop in Berlin employed several top master craftsmen and was one of the most important in that great music capital. Over the years he won a number of awards and medals for his instruments. This unusually beautiful violin has a very full, powerful tone.
Ravenna, 2007. Marco Minnozzi has been making violins for over 25 years. He trained with Renato Scrollavezza in Parma and has worked with V. Nigogosian, Horacio Pineiro, and Rene Morel in New York. His work is sought after all over the world. This beautifully crafted violin has a full, warm tone.
Ashtead, Surrey, 1958. Hardwick was a pupil of George Wulme Hudson. This violin has a brilliant, powerful tone.
Carlos Funes Vitanza
San Francisco, 2006. Carlos Funes studied violin making in Cremona at the violin making school and worked in Cremona for a period before returning to San Francisco. Even after many years away from Italy, his instruments show many characteristics of the Cremona School.
Brussels, 1925. After apprenticing with Chevrier in Mirecourt (from age 13) and working at major shops in Paris, Bourguignon went to Brussels and worked with G. Mougenot. He took over his shop in 1910. During his career, he won numerous medals for his work. This violin is in superb condition and has a powerful, brilliant tone.
Los Angeles, 1977.
A violin prodigy in youth, Frosali graduated from the Florence Conservatory in 1908. He learned violin making from Giuseppe Scarampella, and proved to be an excellent student. He moved to New York where he was employed at the important Emil Herman shop, working with Simone Sacconi. He moved to Los Angeles in 1939 where he worked for Wurlitzer. He also managed the Brown violin shop before establishing his own workshop in 1954. Frosali is undoubtedly one of the finest luthiers in California’s history. He made about 75 violins, all of very fine quality, inspired largely by Guadagnini, but also Guarneri Del Gesu. This violin was made when he was 91 years old, and is his personal model. Despite his advanced age at the time, the violin sounds bold and quick, with a fresh resonance. It is ideal for a young, upcoming musician.
2011. With maker’s certificate.
Cremona, 2012. Since graduating from the school of violin making in Cremona fifteen years ago, Daniele Tonarelli has distinguished himself in a number of competitions around the world. This beautifully crafted violin is in the classic modern Cremona style. The tone is even, warm and clear.
Kleinsendelbach, 2014. We are very enthusiastic about Haensel’s work. He first worked with several important makers as well as graduating from the Mittenwald school. Since then he has done an extensive study of varnish. This violin has a powerful, vibrant and responsive tone. This past October, Andreas won top honors for two instruments (gold and silver medals) at the prestigious ANLAI competition in Italy.
Milan, 2007. Rossi graduated from the Parma school headed by Scrollevezza and has also studied with Greg Alf, Guy Rabut, and Carlos Arcieri in New York before opening his workshop. We have just received this violin and were immediately impressed with the beauty and elegance of the workmanship as well as the tone.
Cremona, 2007. Pedrini began his studies in violin making at the age of 14 in Cremona, winning a prize as the school’s best student in 2000. After studying with Giorgio Cé at the school, he apprenticed with the renowned luthier, Giorgio Grisales. In 2008 he established his own workshop in Cremona. This instrument is easy to play, and has a clear, fresh sound.
Alessandro Commendulli worked with some of the most important Cremonese makers at the International Violin Making School before graduating in 1995. His work is of the finest quality, both tonally and aesthetically. Since 2001 he has shared a workshop with Daniele Tonarelli in Cremona. This violin is a copy of the “Lord Wilton” Del Gesu and has a silvery, robust tone.
Chaumont,1924. Vautrin was a composer and violinist in addition to being a fine luthier. He trained with Chipot-Vuilaume, later heading the workshop of Emile Germain. In 1894 he set up his own shop in Chaumont, France, where he remained until his death in 1937. This violin is typical of his production, with its dark red varnish and Stradivari inspired model. The tone is quite potent, full and warm. It is also in an excellent state of preservation, looking like it just left his workshop.
Mattia Paolo Riva
Varese, 2008. We recently met this gifted maker and were very impressed with his work. This striking violin has a lustrous red-orange varnish. The tone is also impressive, powerful, brilliant, and tremendously responsive.
Scrollavezza & Zanré
Parma, 2007. Elisa's father Renato Scrollavezza founded the famous violin making school in Parma so she was deeply involved in the world of violin making from childhood. In 2002, Elisa formed a partnership with Andrea Zanré, also a Scrollavezza student. In their workshop in the historic center of Parma, they concentrate on making new instruments along with training the next generation of violin makers. Mr. Ifshin just chose three violins from their selection and we are delighted with them. We also chose two of the violins made in their Parma workshop under their direction which represent an excellent value.
Cremona, 2008. Borja comes from Madrid, but started his training in violin making in the U.S. He moved to Cremona to study at the violin making school. After graduation, he worked with Silvio Levaggi and Alberto Giordano before establishing his own workshop. In 2006, Borja won two silver medals for a violin and viola at the Violin Society of America competition in Baltimore.
Andrea began his career in violin making with his father in Moscow and was already an established maker when he began his studies at the violin making school in Cremona, graduating in 1995. He has won numerous awards at international competitions.
Madrid, 1967. Fernando Solar is considered one of the most important Spanish makers of the 20th century. His instruments are known for their full, rich tone. This violin is a fine and characteristic example of his work.
Cremona, 2014. Ferrari graduated from the Cremona violin making school ten years ago and has worked with Massimo Negroni and Elio Severgnini. He works both in Cermona and Madrid. We picked this violin from our last Cremona exhibition.
A few years ago, Mr. Ifshin met this gifted maker in Europe and was most impressed with his work. He is clearly one of the most talented makers of his generation. He studied with Scrollavezza at the school in Parma. We currently have a selection of Marcello's violins.
Cremona, 2000. Nolli, like many of the top Cremona makers, was fortunate to have been at the school when Stefano Conia and Giorgio Scolari were teaching there. Since graduation, he has won numerous medals at competitions all over Italy and has launched a very successful career. This violin is now a few years old and has been "played in." The tone is smooth, clear and responsive.
Canossa, 2006. Virgoletti is the son of a woodworker and lute maker and was introduced to violin making by Ferdinando Garimberti. After making several violins, he began a ten-year apprenticeship with Sesto Rocchi. Starting in 1993 he began working with the Bisollottis (both father and son).
Labeled Martinus Mathias, Vienna, 1747
Very typical of 18th century Austrian making, this instrument was constructed on the Stainer model, with high arching and dark varnish. The William Lewis and Son certificate accompanying the violin states that it is characteristic of the Johann Georg Thir School, one of the greatest luthiers of the mid-18th century. Indeed, this old instrument is a good example of Austrian violin making of that time. The tone is dark, warm, and mellow.
Ernst Heinrich Roth
1923. Guarneri, 1732 model.
Possibly Stockport, England, latter 19th century. Craske was a very prolific maker who worked anonymously for much of his career. After he died, W.E. Hill & Sons purchased and labeled all of his instruments. None of these instruments are dated. The workmanship of Craske's instruments can vary a great deal. This is one of the best examples we have seen. The tone is warm and rich.
Saeid & Shahram Rezvani
Over the last 25 years the brothers Rezvani have made more than 500 violins, violas, and cellos. They began their studies in Iran with Ibrahim Ghambari Mehr, ex-student of the Parisian master, Etienne Vatelot, and later in Vienna with Johann Rombach. They continue perfecting their art as members of the Violin Society of America, working with such masters as Joseph Curtain. Now based in Los Angeles, they produce excellent instruments. Their work is very characteristic, resonant and sweet, easy to play, rich in tone color. We are very fortunate to have several of their instruments at this time, perfect for a young musician.
Mangenot worked for several important luthiers in France, including Justin Derazey, Collin-Mezin, and Hel. In 1888 he took over the Derazey workshop, which owned the rights to the D. Nicolas ainé and Honoré Derazey labels. After 1920, Mangenot only made instruments with his own label, including this one. This violin is one of the best Mangenots we have seen, and is in superb condition. The workmanship is elegant with a rich orange-red varnish. The tone is sweet and enticing, ideal for chamber music
Cremona, 2010. A talented young maker, Fanfani studied with Angelo Sperzaga at the International School of Violin making in Cremona. After graduating in 2003, he worked in the shop of Sperzaga. In 2011 he opened up his own shop in Piacenza. This violin was made while working with his master, and has a clear, even, ringing tone.
Fabrizio Di Pietrantonio
Livorno, 2004. Born in Livorno in 1964, Pietrantonio worked with several important makers who trained him in the traditions of the Bisiach family and especially Igino Sderci. This violin is a reproduction of the model of J.B. Guadagnini and has a wonderful, rich tone of great character.
Otto Paulus was one of the finest luthiers of the long established Paulus family of Markneukirchen. He studied with his brother, Albin Ludwig Paulus Jr. before setting up on his own in 1904, passing his master’s examination in 1914. This collector’s quality violin is pictured in “Vogtländscher Geigenbau” by Zoebisch, the most important book on violin making in the Markneukirchen area. The tone is brilliant, nuanced, and responsive.
Neufchâteau, mid 19th Century, labeled Gaspar da Salo. A great violin for the musician looking for an instrument with a full, dark, rich tone.
Branded “E.H.Superior”, Emil Herrmann workshop
Berlin, early 20th century. Emil Hermann was one of the most important violin dealers in Berlin, later opening a shop in New York in 1924. Among his clients was Jascha Heifetz, who purchased his famous Guarneri Del Gesú in 1922. Among his employees were great luthiers like Simone Sacconi and Mario Frosali. Hermann acquired fine violins from the best luthiers in Germany to sell in his shop. This particular instrument was made for and sold by Hermann, and is in new condition, looking as if it was recently made. It has an exceptional tone, full and powerful.
1999. After studying at the violin making school in Mittenwald in his native Germany, Kapfhammer moved to Salt Lake City and taught at the violin making school there in the mid 70’s. He has worked primarily in Salt Lake, but also for a number of years in the Bay Area. The tone is powerful, responsive and brilliant.
Kurt R Zöphel
This violin is pictured on p. 377 in the important book on violin makers of the Markneukirchen area by Zoebisch. Zöphel Is considered one of the best Markneukirchen makers of his generation.
San Jose, CA 1915. Although born in California, Lanini studied in Italy, first with Romeo Antoniazzi and then with Farotti in Milan from 1911 to 1914 before returning to San Jose. This violin is in almost new condition and has many characteristics of the maker's masters.
El Cerrito, 2012. Over the last several years, Haide Lin, who oversees both our repair and restoration workshop and our Jay Haide workshop, has won numerous medals and awards at the Violin Society of America competitions. This exceptional and beautiful violin is modeled afte the work of the great J.B.Vuillaume. Tonally outstanding, this violin has a responsive tone with great depth and complexity.
Giustino Dal Canto
Castelfranco di Sotto (Pisa), 1959.
Cremona, 2010. Sperzaga graduated from the school of violin making in Cremona in 1986 and set up his own workshop in 1990. He has won a number of awards at competitions around the world, including the Violin Society of America. Since 1998, he has taught varnish technique at the Cremona school.
Neufchâteau c. late 19th Century. Over the years we have been able to offer several violins from the workshop of the Caussin family. As with this fine example, they are usually reproductions of the classical Italian masters and have excellent tonal qualities.
Pisano (near Milan). We have several examples by this maker. See more detailed information.
K. Lothar Meisel
Owatonna, MN 1969. Kurt Lothar and his father came to this country from Klingenthal, Germany in the early 1950's. They were raised in a famous family of violin makers going back to the late 1700's. Their work has always been highly respected all over the country. This fine example of K. Lothar's work has a powerful, brilliant tone.
Caussin workshop, labeled Januarious Gagliano
Gustave Villaume was born in Mirecourt and studied with Mougenot and Jacquet Gand before going to Paris to work with Caressa & Français. After moving to Nancy, he won numerous awards for his work.
Bad Brambach, 1988. Werner learned violin making from his father Walter an continued on in the workshop. He has won numerous awards for his instruments in international competitions, both in the East and the West. Both Werner and Walter are noted for thier exceptional workmanship.
Markneukirchen, 1927. Dürrschmidt founded his workshop in 1887 and it became famous all over the world, especially in this country. This excellent violin has a full, warm tone.
Znaim, Czechoslovakia, 1936.
There were at least eight members of the Kreutzinger family who worked both in both the Schönbach area and over the border in Markneukirchen. This violin is beautifully made and shows the high quality that the best Bohemian makers were capable of and has an excellent tone.
Salt Lake, 1989. Paul Hart is considered one of the key figures in American violin making. In the 1970’s he taught at the Violin Making School of America in Salt Lake. In his classes were those who were to become some of the most important American makers of their generation. He continues to teach violin makers today. This violin shows his exemplary craftsmanship and skill in varnish work. The tone is brilliant and powerful.
Catania, 1923. This violin by Puglisi is an excellent value in a quality Italian violin. The tone is warm and surprisingly responsive.
Markneukirchen, c.1920s. Although there are still violins being sold today under the Andreas Morelli name, the best ones were made in the Karl Herrmann workshop in the 1920s. This is one of the nicest Morelli violins we have seen and is a very special reproduction of a violin by Allesandro Gagliano. The tone is powerful and responsive.
Fine old German
Labeled Joseph Guarnerius Saxony c. 1890
1927. This beautiful violin represents Gütter's best work. It is in exceptional condition and has a wonderful tone.
French, early 20th century.
Heinrich Th. Heberlein Jr.
Markneukirchen, 1926. A very nice example from the Heberlein workshop, this violin is in excellent condition and has a big, powerful tone.
Ernst Heinrich Roth
Bubenreuth-Erlangen, c.1964. This is an unusually fine example from the famous Roth Workshop and is in very fine condition.
Fine old French, branded Thouvenel
After graduating from the Violin making school of America in Salt Lake, Erich Schweiger joined Michael Becker Violins in the Chicago area, soon becoming shop foreman. The year after this violin was made he moved to the Seattle area where he continues to make string instruments. This beautifully made violin has a powerful, brilliant tone.
Ernst Heinrich Roth
Bubenreuth, 2003. One of the best known names in the violin world is that of Ernst Heinrich Roth. Beginning in the early 1920's, this workshop produced some of the best workshop violins to be found. Today, they maintain two workshops in Markneukirchen and Bubenreuth. With only five makers, they concentrate on high quality instruments. Jay Ifshin purchased this beautiful violin directly from Ernst Heinrich Roth IV.
Denver, 1924, #316. Born in Sweden, Hennig worked in Miami, Denver (1920-1928) and Seattle. His work is highly respected for workmanship and the quality of his varnish.
Julius Heinrich Zimermann
Zimermann worked in many locations, including Moscow, St Petersburg and Riga as well as Markneukirchen beginning in 1908. This attractive violin is in superb condition and has a powerful, brilliant tone.
Budapest. Horvath is an interesting young maker who has had success in various international competitions. This violin has a brilliant, responsive tone.
Oakland, 1914. The Aschow family were the most important makers and dealers in the San Francisco East Bay area for almost 70 years, closing in 1969. John was born in Denmark and studied at the violin making school in Mittenwald before coming to this country at the beginning of the last century.
Frankfurt an der Oder, 1890. Julius Altrichter had an important workshop making fine violins and bows for many years. This violin is in excellent condition and has a big, brilliant tone.
Oakland, 1915. The Aschow family were the most important makers and dealers in the San Francisco East Bay area for almost 70 years, closing shop in 1969. John was born in Denmark and studied at the violin making school in Mittenwald before coming to this country at the beginning of the last century.
Markneukirchen, 1922. Made for William Lewis and Son, Chicago.
Made for Rudolph Wurlitzer, Chicago, 1913
French, Labeled J.B.Vuillaume
French, Labeled Jean-Baptiste Colin
Labeled Georges Chanot
Later Mirecourt. Labeled Georges Chanot, Paris 1855
Ernst Heinrich Roth
Markneukirchen, Amati model.
Model 66, Bubenreuth, 2008
Labeled Spiegel of Budapest
“Primiata Liuteria Italiana”
Cremona, 2014. This beautifully made violin represents an exceptional value in a handcrafted Italian violin.
Labeled Antonius Stradivarius
Aubert workshop, Vuillaume model
Mirecourt. This violin is in excellent condition with a big, bright sound.
German “Concert Violin”
German c. 1900, branded "Concert Violin"
German, latter 19th Century
Forcheim, 2012. Model 703
Jay Haide, á l'ancienne
Jay Haide, à l'ancienne. Our latest reproduction in the à l'ancienne series is of a Tomasso Balestrieri from the Ifshin collection. These instruments are enjoyed by advanced students and have recently become possible as a nice sounding alternative for professional players that do not want to travel with more expensive instruments.
New! We have an exciting addition to the à l'ancienne collection. This is our "Special Model" made with aged European wood.
(Click here for further information on our Jay Haide instruments.)
The Monza, Bubenreuth, Germany. This newly introduced model from the famous Heinrich Gill firm has an excellent full warm tone.
Bulgaria, model VP1.
The Kremona workshop has been in operation in Bulgaria since 1922. These instruments have been popular with our customers in recent years. We feel that they are among the best and most affordable violins available from Eastern Europe.
The popular Jay Haide 104 model is an excellent choice for an intermediate to advanced student.
Bulgaria, model VP3.
Jay Haide, Model 101. This fully handmade instrument is an excellent choice for a promising player on a budget.
(Click here for further information on our Jay Haide instruments.)
Wernitzgrün, Models 93MT and 98AP.
For the past 25 years, we have been offering the Alois Sandner instruments from Bubenreuth Germany and have always been delighted with the quality.
"Alosa" model #8120.
The Alosa from Alois Sandner is the best value we have ever found in a well made European violin.
The Borceto is our most affordable violin. Hand made in our workshop and set up here in El Cerrito, this violin offers a wonderful value for the beginning violinist.
We also have a fine selection of violin bows by such makers as: Victor Fetique, Emile Ouchard, W. E. Hill & Sons, Cuniot-Hury, Roger Gerome, Vidoudez, Morizot, Marcel Lapierre, Albert Nurnberger, G.A., H.R. and F.C. Pfretzschner, F. Daugin, Morgan Andersen and many more. Please see our Fine Bow page for a full listing.
Of course, our collection of fine violins is always changing. We strongly recommend that you call before you come in, to see what instruments are available for you to try.