Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/299

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


world was by this time amply provided with instruments of the best class, and that the de- mand for them declined in consequence. Good instruments, however, were FI. 15.

made by some of the second- rate makers of the latter part of the century. One of the best of the Italian makers, Pressenda, worked at Turin in the present cen- tury.

The violin-makers of South Germany form a distinct school, of which some account will be found under KLOTZ and STAINER. Mu- nich, Vienna, Salzburg, and Nuremberg, produced many fiddle-makers. The makers of France and the Low Countries more or less followed Italian models, and during the past century there have been many excellent French copyists of Stradi- vari and Guarnieri ; two of the best are noticed under LUPOT and VUILLAUME: besides these there have been Aldric, G. Chanot the elder, Silvestre, Maucotel, Mennegand, Henry, and Rambaux. The numerous English makers are reviewed under the head LONDON VIOLIN MAKEBS. The oldest English school, repre- sented by such makers as Urquhart and Pam- philon, had much quaintness and beauty of style : but the fame of the Stainer and Cremona patterns soon effaced it. The only English makers of any note now living in London, are Furber and the Hills.

The trade of making viols and violins was en- grafted on the profession of the lute-maker, and to this day the Italian and French languages express 'violin-maker' by Luthier and Liutaro, though lute-making has long been obsolete. In Cremona and some other Italian towns, principally Venice and Milan, the demand for the violin produced workmen who devoted themselves primarily to making bowed instru- ments, and to whom the lute tribe formed a secondary employment : but the earlier violins of Germany, France and England were produced by men whose primary employment was lute- making. Hence the uncertainty and inferiority of their models, though their workmanship is often praiseworthy and always interesting. But as the Cremona violin spread all over Europe, the lute-makers of other countries at first uncon- sciously, afterwards of set purpose, made it an object of imitation. The original violin models of England, Germany, and France, were thus gra- dually extinguished ; andsinceabout the middle of the last century scarcely any other models have been followed than those of the Cremona makers. It was about this time that a change, from an artistic point of view disastrous, swept over the art of violin-making. This change seems to have been the result of a demand for more and cheaper fiddles, and it originated in Italy itself. We know from Bagatella's singular brochure on the Amati model, that 'trade fiddles' (violini dozzinali), cheap instruments of coarse construc- tion, probably made by German workmen, were



��sold by the dozen in Italy in the last century. Such fiddles were soon produced in far greater numbers in Germany and France. In Ger- many the manufacture of 'trade fiddles' was first carried on at Mittenwald, in Bavaria, where it originated with the family of Klotz ; it afterwards extended to Groslitz : early in the last century Mirecourt in French Lorraine became a seat of the trade ; and in recent times Mark- Neukirchen in the kingdom of Saxony has risen to importance. These towns still supply nine- tenths of the violins that are now made. ' Trade ' or common violins can be bought for fabulously low sums. The following is the estimate of M. Thibouville-Lamy, of Mirecourt, Paris, and London, the principal fiddle-maker of our time, of the cost of one of his cheapest violins :

��Wood for back . . .

>, beUy


"Workmanship in neck . . . Blackened fingerboard Workmanship of back and belly Cutting out by saw .... Shaping back and belly by machinery

Fitting-up, strings, bridge and tail-piece

G per cent for general expenses

15 per cent profit .....

��1 2 2 3

i i*



3 7


3 10


1 6

��Ludicrously low as this estimate is, it is certain that one of these fiddles, if carefully set up, can be made to discourse very tolerable music. Vast numbers of instruments of better quality, but still far below the best, costing from i to 2 i os., are now sold all over the world. Mirecourt and Markneukirchen mainly produce them: of late years the latter place has taken the lead in quantity, the German commercial travellers being apparently more pushing than the French ; but the Mirecourt fiddles have de- cidedly the advantage in quality, having regard to the price.

But violins of a superior class to the trade fiddle, of good workmanship throughout, and in every way excellent musical instruments, though inferior to the best productions of the classical age, have been and still are made, not only at Mirecourt, but in the principal musical centres of Europe. London, Paris, Vienna, and Munich, have had a constant succession of violin-makers for the past two centuries. The English violin manufacture suffered a severe blow by the abo- lition of duties on foreign instruments, and it can hardly be said that the musical stimulus of the last few years has caused it to revive. Those makers who carry on their trade in England are chiefly employed in rehabilitating and sell- ing old instruments, and their own productions, too few in number, are usually bespoken long beforehand. At present, therefore, an intend- ing purchaser will not find a stock of new in- struments by the best English makers : but it is to be hoped that, as the demand increases, they will find means to increase the supply. Messrs.

�� �