Ute Zahn ~ Violin Maker
On our way to South Dakota, Bill Scott and I spontaneously burst into a collaborative agreement -- I was to help and motivate him to get some pending violas made. I duly made a rib structure for his Gasparo da Salo-model, only to find Bill was about to fly the coop -- he, in turn, had been invited to help out with some restoration work in Taipei. So while he is off gallivanting around Taiwan, I'll be getting the da Salo front ready, too.The scroll cast is for a different instrument, if you haven't spotted that already.
Our time at the National Music Museum was short, but intense. We were lucky to be able to have almost two days nose to nose with some truly fine instruments -- a lovely Nicola Bergonzi viola, and two Andrea Amati violins. The staff and faculty at the NMM proved to be very accomodating; seemingly nothing was too much trouble! This despite the fact that they were having a big weekend: They were about to dedicate a new exhibit, Elvis' guitar. The party included a Southern barbecue, held in the amphitheatre in front of the museum (despite rather frigid temparatures), as well as a visit from Elvis' baby-blue motorbike.
What with the press swarming the place, and hectic last-minute preparations, they could have been forgiven for not being too thrilled about having two nerdy violin makers cluttering up their space.
We had a fruitful time, taking measurements, photos, and outlines, and squabbling over fractions of millimeters (measuring actual wear, for istance, as opposed to facturing wear into the written measurements -- all matters of grave import to a luthier). There is nothing that quite inspires me to try to make a really fine violin as handling a really fine violin.
Too, I now feel so much more competent talking to next year's students about the work of Andrea Amati. I'm afraid I have rather tortured this year's lot with my refrain of "Next year, everything will be better!"
Which, of course, it will be.
You can find some pictures of our visit on the NMM's facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/NationalMusicMuseumUSA
Detail of the Nicola Bergonzi viola at the NMM