By David Wiebe | From the January-February 2022 issue of Strings magazine
Strings magazine recently asked luthier David Wiebe: “Of all the violins that have passed through your hands, which one do you most wish you could have kept?” Here’s what he had to say.
Andrea Amati looms as the Great Father of the modern violin. His design is so complete, so elegant and advanced, it continues to defy understanding how he arrived at it. Or could “divine intervention” have been involved? The lack of evidence of any development process to explain how his model may have evolved from others perpetuates the mystery of its apparent sudden arrival.
Maestro Andrea must have had some sort of powerful inspiration.
In the violin world, we often tend to focus primarily on Antonio Stradivari’s overwhelming achievements, as well as the breadth of contributions from the Guarneri family. But I previously lived near the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota, which provided an opportunity to study numerous works of the Amati family in some detail. It was there that I became strongly influenced by the Brothers Amati: Antonio and Girolamo. In that collection, among other Amati instruments, is the Brothers’ violino piccolo, which I confess to having coveted. I craved just having it so I could hold it every day—it is such a remarkable, tiny nugget of compressed beauty. Since then, I have had the opportunity to copy two different cellos by the Brothers, one from 1616 and another from 1622. From those experiences, it felt as if I were being taught and schooled by them.
The works of my heroes, the Brothers Amati—with their elegant outlines, gorgeous corners, sleek, refined archings, and beautiful scrolls—continue to be my primary source of inspiration.