For me, the fine craft of violin-making is an extension of my early work as an artist.
I was born in New York City in 1953. My father was a civil engineer and my mother was a classical pianist, so it was natural for me to be involved with both music and craft from an early age. By the time I was 18, I had learned to play ten different instruments and worked in a few different crafts, making instruments, silver jewelry, leather sandals and bags, furniture and linoleum cut prints.
My formal training began at the age of 12, when I started studying with the sculptress Bronka Stern, working in terra cotta and then advancing to stone. After working with her for five years, I went to study at Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. It was while attending Tyler that I was given my first violin to repair. I consulted with Adolph Primavera, Philadelphia's old master violin-maker, on some of the problems dealing with this instrument. During our conversation, I asked if he knew of any violin-making schools. He recommended the Scuola Internazionale di Liuteria di Cremona, the International School of Violin Making in Cremona, Italy--a free, state-run school established to secure the traditional skills for the craft of making violins and other string instruments. I studied there for three years with Maestros Pietro Sgarabotto, Gio Batta Morassi, Francesco Bissolotti and Pier Luigi Galetti. And at the end of 1975--with my wife, our son, my dog and a few instruments-I came to New York to set up shop.
Among my earliest clients were composer and cellist Alan Shulman; violinist John Dalley, from the Guarneri String Quartet; and cellist Fred Sherry. In 1988, I moved my studio and family to Philadelphia, where I continue to work today, creating (and repairing) string instruments for musicians around the world.
I try to incorporate art into the craft of violin making; form with function. I spent years refining the hundreds of technical details that go into the construction of an instrument, while at the same time working to create the highest quality of sound for today's player. Now these processes have become intuitive, allowing me to create instruments that are visibly and audibly successful at the highest level.