As the holiday break approaches, we take a look back at some of the amazing instruments and quirky repairs that have come through the workshop over the year.
We’ve come full circle as we have just finished working on a very fine Italian instrument by the venetian maker Giulio Degani that first came into the workshop in January. He had distinctive features in his making including heavily carved f holes resulting in a border around the wing, fluting on the outside of the pegbox and the unusually shaped original fingerboard. He was the son of Eugenio Degani who is often cited as the founder of the Venetian School of violin making. This instrument we are setting up for sale if you are looking for a last minute Christmas present for a VERY special person!
As well as restoring this very fine violin for a professional player, January also got off to a busy start with a rush on student instruments for the new term. Pictured here was Steve’s ‘to do list’ on the first day back – setting up student instruments to optimise them for a great playing experience. The instruments were all part of our flexible hire scheme for student instruments enables the student to move up to the next sized instrument at no extra cost as they grow. https://bridgewoodandneitzert.london/hire/
February saw three Viols and a Lute in the workshop for repair for the Viola Da Gamba Society and The Lute Society. We run hire schemes for both societies that enable members to hire instruments. This can range from beginner instruments right through to full time students who want to hire a professional instrument to support their development.
In March we were in major repair mode as this Saxon cello was brought into us, literally in bits after some terrible accidental damage. We were very proud to return it to its owner, back in one piece and sounding great.
As Tung was fixing the Saxon cello, Andy had his work cut out working on two contrasting and interesting English violins in the workshop by London makers from the 18th century. The first was a fine violin c.1750-60 from John Johnson, pictured here in the middle of a repair of an f-hole wing crack. Johnson was a big figure in London’s music world at the time, with workshops at the ‘Harp and Crown’ in Cheapside, and York Street in Covent Garden. Like Bridgewood and Neitzert, his music shop offered instruments and accessories and employed craftspeople. The other violin is from a lesser known London maker Remerrus Liessem. Liessem was primarily a Cittern maker. This violin of his was from 1733 and still had the original neck and bass bar.
It was the turn of the cellos to receive some TLC in April, with wonderful instruments from Thomas Perry and Georges Apparut. The first cello from was from 1785 by the great Dublin maker Thomas Perry. Another luthier who followed the family trade, Perry took over his father’s shop in Dublin in 1766. He worked by himself until going in to partnership with William Wilkinson in about 1781 with the firm Perry and Wilkinson. This cello needed significant work to mend rib cracks and fix 234 years of historical repairs!
The Georges Apparut (1877 to 1948) cello was made in 1929. Georges began his apprenticeship with his father Léon at the age of fourteen and left to join the workshop of Paul Blanchard, Luthier at Lyon’s Conservatory of Music at nineteen. Following work with Georges Mougenot in Brussels, Marc Laberte in Mirecourt and Pouzolle in Avignon he took over the workshop of Victor Joseph Charotte at 6, Sainte Cécile Street in Mirecourt. Over his career he won several honours and awards including silver and gold medals at the international exhibitions in Nancy (1909), Brussels (1910), and Gand (1913).
May saw a wide range of instruments and repairs coming through the workshop from a fine Charles Jacqot cello in need of a new fingerboard and bridge, and probably the worst wear pattern on the neck of a violin that we have seen in 36 years of trading! We also undertook a restoration of an unusual violin c1775 from English maker Joseph Collier and were absolutely delighted when the owner brought in this photograph of the Grandmother holding the instrument.
June took us back into the world of fine violins with a pair of violins in the workshop that really got our luthiers’ pulses racing. Both were by the maker known as the ‘English Amati’; Benjamin Banks of Salisbury (1727 – 1795) and had distinguishing features of Bank’s work including the stamp below the button and a small ‘triangle’ left at the base of the pegbox where the termination of the fluting isn’t blended.
We went back a few hundred years in July with the preparation of a violone to go out for hire with the Viola da Gamba Society. It was made by amateur maker Holden in the 1960’s and belonged to Eph Segerman, founder of Northern Renaissance Instruments, scholar and founder member of the Fellowship of Makers and Restorers of Historical Instruments. The instrument was been donated by his family and its great to know it will be played again by a passionate early instrument aficionado.
An August highlight was undoubtedly two cellos that came in within a fortnight of each other by the highly esteemed Chicago based luthier Bronek Cison. Born the son of a farmer in the small village of Krauszow in Poland, Cison trained under Andrzej Bednarski and ran his own shop for ten years before taking up residence with William Harris Lee & Co in Chicago. His instruments are known for their rich tone and projection and are played by members of the leading American symphony orchestras and it was great to see the craftsmanship first-hand.
September saw Ed undertaking a delicate set of repairs to a 1828 cello by W. Fryer from Aiskew, Yorkshire. It had very thin ribs which had been scraped back in a historical repair due to woodworm. Ed took off the front, removed the heavy studs and replaced with linen to reinforce the delicate areas. It made the instrument sound miles better and gave it a much better chance of still being around in another hundred years.
In October we welcomed back one of our old ‘favourites’ to the workshop. The instrument is an Amati composite violin with original back and ribs and later front and head which is likely to be the work of John Frederick Lott II. This violin first came into Bridgewood and Neitzert eight years ago for a ‘neck conversion’ from a modern pattern back to a baroque neck which was done by owner and founder Gary Bridgewood https://bridgewoodandneitzert.london/thats-amore-owner-and-founder-gary-bridgewood-describes-the-neck-conversion-that-was-the-start-of-an-eight-year-relationship-with-an-amati-composite-violin/
November saw two cellos come in representing London’s rich instrument making history. The first was by Richard Duke (1718 – 1783) who was one of the most prolific English luthiers of the 18th century. The cello was in for a new baroque bridge, seen here part way through setting the string heights. The other cello was by John Betts (1752 – 1892) who apprenticed with Duke and eventually bought the business from Duke’s daughter. This cello was in for a repair where the bow went through the rib and also for crack repairs. It was great to have these instruments from London makers here in our workshop some 300 years later – playing our part in a fine tradition of craftsmanship.
And that brings us back round to December and our lovely Degani (the perfect Christmas present for your favourite concert violinist!). It’s been a wonderful year throughout which we’ve worked on some amazing instruments, supported the next generation of players through our hire schemes and played our part in keeping the wheels on London’s musical community by providing strings, mutes, cases, humidifiers and repairing precious instruments. A big thank you to all our customers and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year.