An unbylined article in Thursday’s (12/17) Economist says that the past two decades have “seen a renaissance of string-instrument-making (violins, violas and cellos) by luthiers across the world. They can learn their trade at renowned violin-making schools …. Those with the most distinguished connections are in Italy: in Milan, Parma and especially in Cremona, home of the most fabled of the 16th-18th-century violin-makers: the Amati, Guarneri and Stradivari families.” The article explains that the number of hours required to make each instrument is high—luthier Gaspar Borchardt takes up to 250 hours per violin. “Carrying out high-class repairs can be financially more rewarding than making new instruments. Violins are quite fragile and most will need repairing sooner or later, so there is always a demand. If the instrument is worth a lot, the quality of the repair can make a big difference to its value, so a skilled restorer can set his price.” Though Frances Gillham of Beare’s, a London dealer, says in the article that “some Italian violins from the 1900s are now beginning to improve noticeably as they age,” the article concludes that “the best of the old Italian masters will probably still outdazzle them.”

Posted December 22, 2009