We asked violin luthier Christopher Germain which historical violin maker’s work is closest to his heart and why. Here’s what he had to say.
I wish that I could come up with a surprise answer on this, but I can’t. Antonio Stradivari is the man and that’s that! Stradivari was as dominant in his field as Beethoven, Bach, or the Beatles were in music. He was the Michael Jordan of violin making with the genius of Einstein added in. Stradivari’s instruments are always superbly crafted, displaying his masterful technique, which never wavered—even during an eight-decades-long career.
No detail of a Stradivari instrument is accidental. He sweated the details and it shows. The carving of the wood—whether it’s the beautiful, flowing arching, f-holes, splendidly sculpted edgework, purfling, or scroll—there is always an artistic unity and beauty beyond words. He is one historical figure that I would most like to meet. Judging by the uncompromising character of his work, he was probably all business and not much fun to be around at times!
In addition, Strad was an innovator and was always experimenting with a slightly different model or design idea, without compromising his artistic identity. Even after his death in 1737, his legacy continues to inspire both makers and musicians around the world to seek the very best in their craft and art.
—Christopher Germain, luthier