Fomrhi comm. 1951 Roberto Regazzi The story of Giuseppe Fiorini – appeal for assistance

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FoMRHI Comm. 1951 Roberto Regazzi
The story of Giuseppe Fiorini – appeal for assistance

Born in 1861 in Bazzano, Giuseppe Fiorini was the son of a violin maker and took up the normal route of an apprenticeship in the workshop of his Father Raffaele. In 1885 he opened his own workshop in Bologna. Keen intelligence and an intuitive spirit and the need for a less constrictive atmosphere, led him to move to Munich in a time when the whole city was a hive of artistic ferment and new possibilities. Giuseppe married the daughter of Andreas Rieger who was a renowned luthier and business man from Mittenwald and quickly became his successor in the Bavarian capital. Between 1895 and 1910 he emerged as one of the most highly regarded luthiers of Central Europe, especially in respect of the construction of violins and expertise in the trade of stringed instruments of quality. In 1904 he became a founding member of the German VDG, the oldest and most long-lived associations of European violin making-still-active. In these years he formulated his workshop to accommodate an increasing number of students and from these premises he served some of the best musical artists of his time. With the outbreak of World War I political considerations forced him to take refuge in Switzerland and here he thought seriously about returning to practice violin making and dealing in Italy, an aim that took eight years to bring to fruition. In the meantime he concluded the transaction of a lifetime: the purchase, from a Piedmontese aristocrat, of all the tools, designs and models that Antonio Stradivari had used in his life to build his famous masterpieces. Fiorini knew this material intimately, having studied it for 40 years, and had already drawn inspiration from it for his very successful career. This episode marks a further leap in the quality of his training and it was the ability to study the material in depth that finally opened the last period of his life in Italy when he moved to Rome in 1923. Here, he took on fresh students and pursued the idea of establishing a real school, a place where he might be able to use the treasures of Stradivari to their utmost benefit. Though he was ready to donate the material in order to achieve his purpose of reviving the art of the great Italian violin makers times were difficult and his failing eyesight and ill health from an incurable disease put this aim out of reach. Eventually however Cremona accepted the donation of the Stradivari material in 1930, only four years before Giuseppe Fiorini’s death in Munich, Bavaria in 1934.

In life he served a great number of artists and was much loved and respected, gathering around him a large number of German Italian Swiss and other students. His personal and professional charisma and its influence on the culture of the modern violin has reached far beyond the expected consequences of the donation of the Stradivari material to Cremona. Witness the successful career of at least two luthiers who were his acolytes during the years of his maturity: Ansaldo Poggi and Simone Fernando Sacconi, the latter the founding father of the modern American school of violin making and restoration. The presence in the early formative years of the last century of a student, a member of the Hill family of London proves the high regard that the Master had been able to earn within his artistic milieu from the outset. He was a friend of all the fine arts and his writings speak to us of his great erudition, subtlety and intelligence. Today his instruments have stood the test of time and have begun to be played regularly by the most demanding of musicians. The fact that his successors could not be blood relatives made his persona active in attracting a large number of students of kindred spirit.

A book about him is in preparation, and if you have any material that might assist with research, such as autographs, pictures, letters, invoices, pictures or instruments, the research committee would be very pleased to hear of it: contact: Roberto Regazzi, Fine Violins, via Angelo Musco 1, I-40127 Bologna, Italy  +39 051 501807 / +39 328 3157756

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