Karen Brown of Brooklyn evokes her Scottish homeland on a nice JTL Medio Fino

Karen eventually chose this violin after a strenuous search through my collection. “Frenchie” as she fondly calls it spoke with all the clarity and power that she demanded and made her sound beautiful on the pieces of her home land. Karen is deeply connected to the Brooklyn music scene in her own right and also through her husband John, who is the leader of the Indie band “They Might be Giants”

A nice JTL Medio Fino c. 1910

These works are the lesser instruments coming out of the famed Mirecourt shop of Jerome Thibouville-Lamy. They are made with mostly plain maple,have incised rather than inlaid purfling and have a rugged quality to their workmanship. However they offer a robust sound and a complexity that is hard to beat at this modest price level. They also afford the great patina and  character of a genuine antique violin. This example has the characteristic deep red varnish.  I have gone over this violin thoroughly both inside and out to bring it up to its highest level.

Richard Weichold Cello c. 1900

Richard Weichold was a bowmaker and violin dealer working in Dresden during the latter half of the 19th century.While probably not making this instrument himself, he obviously employed great makers and had them working up to a very high standard in this instance.This fine cello shows all he crisp, powerful beauty of “big city”  German violin making at its best. The instrument is filled with strong,graceful details that show an aesthetic precision: from the delicately cut F-holes and outline to the care” to the artful resolution at the back of the scroll, to the great arching ,edge work and corners of the back. This finely modeled cello also has a deep  red varnish of striking beauty. This cello is now in the hands of the talented young prodigy Bihn Park. He works it hard to get all he can and keeping it looking and sounding as beautiful as it can is a challenge, but well worth the effort to insure future players the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful cello

Principal Viola of the Phila Orchestra

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CJ’s great,early Italian viola with its robust arching, beautiful inlaid work and powerful F holes is always a treat to have on your bench. The sound of this instrument has matured so dramatically in the time he has owned it. No doubt that some of this effect stems from all the work we did on it at Moennig’s, but also his strong playing has really opened it up. Its a completely different viola from the one that was once owned by a member of a Canadian symphony. C J has an uncanny knack for knowing when his instrument is open and senses right away that he is losing power (exactly like the previous principal Roberto Diaz).

Antonio Cavalazzi 1935 Ravenna

This beautiful, charming violin has come to me for ,among other things, a new fingerboard. It was made by a little known maker  who was born in 1905, worked in Ravenna and was the pupil of the maker Domenico Veggi. There is so much to like about this fiddle. The bold S curve of the scroll. The artful, unfussy fluting of the lower tabs of the F-holes. The beautiful back with its lovely,soft, transparent orange varnish, handsome wood and stylish outline make this violin a treat to have on my bench. This violin has everything that I find is so special about Italian violinmaking- (and its even magically present in a maker that you don’t know)- You feel the human hand, the beating heart and that artistic leap where spirit animates the labored object. Finally, a shot of it surrounded by so many other inspiring instruments – I’m truly a lucky man to be immersed, through my late nights, with such things

The Grande Dame of the cello world- Metta Watts

“Billie” Watts was  Orlando Cole”s assistant for decades. Together they were a dramatic force shaping many of the most talented cellists of our day. She continues to be a tremendous teacher and influence on countless young musicians.Her  energy and passion are an inspiration to me as I’m sure they are to her many  students. I’m proud to build on our long association at Wm Moennig & Son and continue to work on her cellos and also her student’s cellos in my own shop. Whether bringing out the best in a cello, solving a problem or helping a student find  a cello at the next level, I will constantly work to continue to earn that trust.

One vivid memory of the last day that Moennig”s was open: Billie came in to say goodbye and while reminiscing thought back to when she first set foot in the shop to buy her first cello and said  very matter- of- factly that it was “over 70 years ago”. That said it all

A beautiful,rugged viola by C.A Testore 1756

This great viola is part of the world  famous string sound of the Philadelphia Orchestra. It made the arduous trek with the Orchestra on their recent tour in China and the far east and now needs some careful gluings ,varnish attention and a thorough going over to make sure all is well. This instrument has all the charm and style you look for in Carlo’s work The distinctive small,meager turns of the scroll and the narrowing peg box give real  personality.On the back Carlo dresses up the plain maple with hand painted flames and  saves time in the making by scratching on the purfling and you can see the remains his brand which depict the initials C A T in an eagle design that was the pattern of the sign in front of his shop in Milan of the second half of the 18th century      The bold, openly cut F-hole shows him working rather quickly and the photo hints at the strong,robust arching that gives this viola such power . Also evident is the tight grained spruce with the typical clear, yellowish varnish for which the Testore family are justly  renowned for. Taken all together it is a wonderful example of bold instrument making, made efficiently for working musicians by artistic hands with personal and local style with ,above all , real life in its grain

Powerful 17″ Moennig Jr viola

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A big,beautiful William Moennig Jr. viola dating from 1943. Made originally for Samuel Lifschey,principal violist of the  Philadelphia Orchestra, it is now now in the hands of a talented young player who brings out all its color and resonance. Although not easy to play physically it produces a depth in the lower register that,once you get used to, you can’t live without.

An interesting autographed photo of William Moennig Jr accompanies the photos of the viola. It is a photo taken on Dec 17th 1955 backstage at the Academy of Music after a performance by the famed violinist David Oistrakh.  In the photograph Mr Oistrakh is shown in the mirror of his dressing room signing autographs,whlie Bill Jr in the foreground holds up the Strad he used for both the concert and in his recording of the Brahms violin concerto. In the mirror are also some burly men that were part of a KGB detail that followed Mr Oistrakh around the states to keep him from defecting during that tense Cold War time. Mr Oistrakh’s  words translate to: “To an oustanding violin maker and an excellent gentleman,William Moennig- with respect and best wishes, David Oistrakh.”

Irv Ludwig

Irv Ludwig -member of the Philadelphia Orchestra for decades and conductor of the Lansdowne Symphony stops by to play through the collection looking for a suitable fiddle for a student. In this image he is enjoying getting to know a violin by H Blaise made in Mirecourt,France c 1920. He is always great to have in the studio – a wonderful raconteur with a long view of time. He is the father of another long term client, Michael Ludwig (both going back to the Moennig days) who was also once of the Philly O – but now concertmaster of the Buffalo Symphony