Christian Urbita Cello 1993. Based on models of the 17th Century, Andreas Guarnarius & Montagnana’s Sleeping Beauty
Christian Urbita studied science (physics, chemistry and technology) at the University Paul Sabatier in Toulouse. His long-standing passion for music, drawing and sculpture led him to Stuttgart where began a years apprenticeship in 1975 with Bernhard Franke, master violinmaker, at the same time attending theory classes at the School of violin making in Mittenwald, Bavaria (Germany). He continued his “European Tour” in Lübeck with master Rudolf Masurat, violinmaker. In 1980 he Moved to England to join the workshop of Celebrated W.E.Hill and Sons, where he gained rich experience in the restoration and the adjustment of old Italian instruments from the 17th and 18th centuries (Amati, Stradivari, Guarneri etc.) and became familiar with the acoustic principles of these exceptional instruments.
In 1984 he opened his own workshop in Cordes-sur-Ciel, in order to focus on the making of new instruments. During this period he took over the running of the festival “Music of Heaven” and created the “European Workshop Luthiers and Bow Makers” (European Association of Violin and Bow Makers). A new design in the making of a violin was born, thanks to a productive interchange with the composers in residence during the festival “Music of Heaven”;Olivier Greif, Henri Dutilleux, Philippe Hersant, Gyorgy Kurtag, Thierry Eschaich, Thomas Adès, chritian Lauba, Michaël Levinas and performers Such As Augustin Dumay, Renaud Capuçon, Laurent Korcia, Sarah Nemtanu Julien Chauvin, Matthew Trusler.
“The contacts with composers and interpreters is essential in the making of a new instrument this can last and go beyond the mere aesthetic innovation and thus create the violin of the 21st century for today’s musicians, based on the design of the old Great Masters”.
In 1997 he received the “Musicora Prize” and in 2009, he patented with INPI (French institute of Patents) a new bridge model. Nowadays he devotes all his time to the making of violins. His instruments are much sought for their wonderful sonority.
This cello was played by Alexander Kok.
Alexander Kok, the cellist, who has died aged 89, was a founder member of the Philharmonia Orchestra, a prominent chamber musician and a popular session player; he is credited alongside Ringo Starr, Elton John and Eric Clapton on George Harrison’s album Cloud Nine.
Kok lived a colourful life, with three marriages and a series of romantic liaisons. Two of his cellos were burnt beyond repair in a car accident and he was declared bankrupt after receiving poor advice when attempting to expand his music school in Cheltenham. None the less, he loved life in general and a hearty meal in particular, and was rarely downcast for long.
Kok’s brother, Felix, a violinist, became leader of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and they occasionally performed together, including, while they were still students, in Brahms’s Double Concerto under Sir Henry Wood. Later they formed the Beaufort Trio with the pianist Daphne Ibbott. After Kok’s solo debut at the Wigmore Hall in 1960, one critic wrote that his “tone was of a very appealing, mellow quality, and his musicianship was sensitively sympathetic and sincere”.
Alexander “Bobby” Kok was one of four brothers born at Brakpan, a mining town near Johannesburg, South Africa, on St Valentine’s Day 1926. His father, a Boer farmer-turned-miner, had a lovely baritone voice; his mother was an accomplished violinist and pianist. Bobby, who was head chorister at St Mary’s Cathedral, Johannesburg, was nine when a local carpenter presented him with his first cello, which was too big for him to play.
Felix had been encouraged to pursue his violin studies in London, so in 1938 their mother brought all her sons to Britain. Bobby joined his brother at Haberdashers’ Aske’s School, where he shone at rugby and boxing, but upset the headmaster by winning a scholarship to follow Felix to the Royal Academy of Music. He joined Ensa, performing for British troops, and played with the Boyd Neel Orchestra.
Walter Legge set up the Philharmonia in 1945 and Kok was a member from the very first concert (conducted by Thomas Beecham), sharing his love of classic cars with Dennis Brain, their horn player, and Herbert von Karajan, who conducted in 1948. During this time he took lessons with Pierre Fournier in Paris and Pablo Casals in Prades, developing a deep affection for France.
In 1957 he joined Dartington College of Arts, in Devon, lecturing in music history, and the following year set up the Dartington String Quartet with Colin Sauer, Peter Carter and Keith Lovell. Within three years he was back in London, as principal cellist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, but by 1965, having found himself disagreeing with the BBC’s music policy, he had moved into the commercial world. Groups such as the Beatles needed backing musicians, while film, television and advertising work provided a steady income.
Kok was a founder of the Cheltenham Music School in 1971.
Alexander, or Bobby, studied with Pierre Fournier in Paris and Pablo Casals in Prades. He became a founder member of the Philharmonia Orchestra when he was 19 and was subsequently principal cellist at the BBC symphony orchestra. He played on a Testore earlier in his career and commissioned this cello in the 90’s: it is a big and lovely French cello made by Christian Urbita. It was built in 1993 and is based on models of the 17th Century (Andreas Guarnarius & Montagnana’s Sleeping Beauty).
The back in two pieces of maple of irregular light medium curl descending across the back in the upper half and running horizontally across the back from the centre joint in the lower half.
The ribs, peg box and scroll similar.
The front in two pieces of spruce of medium grain in the centre becoming finer towards the flanks.
The varnish of a rich orange-brown colour on a yellow ground.