NAC instrument collection

Posted on | May 18, 2010 | No Comments|

The players in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre Orchestra are fortunate to have access to a collection of string instruments and bows from the ‘Zukerman Musical Instruments Foundation’. This collection was begun by the orchestra’s musical director Pinchas Zukerman.

I was asked by the NACO to appraise the collection in order to update their insurance values. So I headed downtown to look over the instruments.

A few quality examples stood out:

Hill viola from London about 1810
Nicolas Lupot viola from Paris 1806
R & M Millant violin from Paris 1957
J.& A. Gagliano violin from Naples 1785
And two English bows from W.E. Hill surprisingly stamped with the same year (1950)

While there, I was also asked to check them over for any repairs and general upkeep they may need.

Some of the instruments  I had maintained in my workshop and were in very good condition. A  few needed minor seams glued but one was in quite poor condition. This instrument labeled Gio. Dollenz was on loan to the very fine violinist, Donnie Deacon, principle of the second violins.

The ‘Dollenz’ violin had an open crack in the back under the soundpost. The crack had been repaired with a poorly fitted wooden patch glued inside. The repair had failed and wasn’t able to hold the crack closed. The violin also needed the fingerboard planed, new bridge, soundpost and a complete clean.

Below is a photo of violin with the strings removed, before I started work on it.

donnies-violin-before.

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I removed the back and made plaster casts to support the fitting and gluing of a new maple patch. The patch was inlaid into the back to reinforce the crack and strengthen the back so it could support the downward pressure from the soundpost and strings. The repair also involved cleaning, gluing and varnish retouching of the crack.

The back had distorted over time from the previous poor repair, so one goal was to improve the shape of the back, before gluing the patch in. I used a process of making plaster casts of the back, which I reshaped. Then carefully I pressed the back into the final cast to improve the arching shape.

Once the back was restored it was reglued to the violin and the fingerboard was planned and a new bridge and soundpost fitted. The violin was given a careful clean and restrung. The sound of the violin was vastly improved and is now back in the orchestra with D. Deacon.

The violin after the restoration looking far more healthy.

donnies-violin-after

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    About

    Guy Harrison Violin Maker
    792 Gladstone Avenue
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1R 6X9
    Tel: 613 569 4803

    1997 Silver medal for viola in the Mittenwald International Violin Making Competition, Germany.

    2010 Bronze medal for violin in the Mittenwald International Violin Making Competition, Germany.

    2014 Workmanship award for violin in the Mittenwald International Violin Making Competition, Germany.

    2016 Silver Workmanship medal for cello in the VSA Violin Making Competition, USA.

    Member of the American Federation of Violin & Bow Makers and Violin Society of America.

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