Alberto Giordano

Alberto Giordano was born in Genova in the 1960s and was raised in the era when rock and roll ruled the air-waves and wild colors and long hair ruled the fashion scene. In spite of this, Alberto chose to embark on his journey to learn violin making. He studied at Cremona Violin School with Vincenzo Bissolotti, Wanna Zambelli and Stefano Conia Sr., trained further in Sesto Rocchi’s laboratory and continued his apprenticeship in the workshop of Joseph Curtin and Gregg Alf. He returned to Genova to establish his own workshop in 1987, partly because of the Paganini legacy, but partly because of a most beautiful Genovese girl, Patrizia, who he married, and they now live and work together happily in vibrant and fascinating old part of the city. Genova hasn’t changed much over the centuries thanks to its geographical location, wedged into the foothills of the mountains that frame the Gulf of Genova where river Bisagno meets the Ligurian Sea. You still walk through narrow alleyways and cobbled streets, surrounded by tall buildings that have stood on this spot for centuries.

You can forget about wearing high heels or using Google Maps on the smartphone when you wander this district, but ask any shop owner around the via Garibaldi where is the ‘Maestro Liutaio’s’ workshop and you can rest assured that they will point you to Alberto’s shop. In this setting Alberto creates his own instruments, but also continues to provide the upkeep and ongoing preservation of the famous ‘Il Cannone’ Guarneri ‘del Gesù’.

This violin, once owned and played by the great Niccolò Paganini and now the property of the City of Genova, has since 1851 been housed nearby in the beautiful Palazzo Doria Tursi. Alberto also continues his own personal development and education, not only within the world of violin making but also in the fields of art and philosophy. In March 2015, he was awarded a Master’s Degree with Honours in the History of Art at the University of Genova, Faculty of Letters and Philosophy. He also continues the never-ending researches in documenting the rich history of Genovese violin making, in such works as his book on the life and work of Cesare Candi as well as the book on the nineteenth century violin makers of Liguria that he published with Eric Blot.

You would probably not be surprised to know that Alberto has collaborated with many players over the years, including the late great Ruggiero Ricci in his 2001 ‘The Legacy of Cremona’ project, in which maestro Ricci included one of the Alberto’s ‘Cannone’ copy in a recording featuring fine contemporary violins. However, it might come as a surprise to know that Alberto also collaborated with the Czech choreographer Jiri Kylan for the opening of the Norwegian Opera and Ballet Theatre in Oslo in 2008, creating a series of musical instruments for the opening ballet “World Beyond”. You will be pleasantly surprised on playing Alberto’s own instruments at their rich sound which surrounds your whole being with the warm depth and powerful voice in the upper register, not unlike that of ‘Il Cannone’ itself! But, when you consider Alberto’s warm character and kind and generous nature, it is no surprise that his personality is reflected in their sound.

Felix Krafft

Based on just his geographical location and his family heritage, Felix would be called a German instrument maker. Once you have the pleasure of knowing him, though, you begin to realise that he is an amalgamation of the many different cultures from which he has drawn upon from his knowledge, absorbing the experience of getting to know different people from many distant places, and learning from past and modern history, all of which have shaped his persona throughout his lifetime.

My first meeting with Felix was in Cologne, where he was giving the presentation called ‘Faszination Streichinstrumente’. Now, if you find yourself at an event where you do not fully understand the language, you might start looking for the nearest exit, thinking of how to politely sneak away. Luckily for me, the room was packed and Felix started his presentation before I could leave! I stayed glued to my seat right to the end of it. Even though I still don’t know the full English transcript, I vividly remember the images of the old masters’ paintings portraying musical instruments from the XV-XVII century, through which Felix illustrated so beautifully the evolution from medieval instruments to the now classic and pivotal Amati violin shape. You did not need to speak the language – the images spoke for themselves.

I would like to think that Felix’s ‘faszination’ with stringed instruments started in a childhood in which he studied the cello in Germany, in the day when the Berlin Wall still stood and Checkpoint Charlie was a real place and not just a Museum and tourist attraction. His path of becoming a violin maker started in 1989 in Gubbio, in the province of Umbria, Italy. During the three years that he studied to obtain the diploma “Maestro Liutaio”, Felix also conducted his own researches into the history of violin making throughout Italy. This was also a very important time in his personal life, as it was while in Italy that he met his soulmate (and now his wife of many years), the lovely Maria, who is originally from South America.

The story continues in Berlin, where Felix worked in a master’s shop for the next six years and obtained the official German instrument making status of ‘Geigenbaumeister’ in 1998.  The following year, Felix opened his own shop in Berlin, where he can now be found along the lushly green and leafy Beerenstrasse, in the beautiful south-western district of Zehlendorf. He continues his never-ending journey of discovery, both acoustically and aesthetically, in his making of new instruments, following the schools of old Italian masters, but continuing to expand his knowledge of today, drawing on his wide network of contemporary violin makers who gather every year at the Oberlin College Workshop in the USA.

However, once you have the opportunity to see, hold and play on one of the Felix’s instruments, you do begin to wonder how he can possibly better himself further! The moment you start tuning it in, the powerful sound of the violin begins to resonates through your body, and you are taken on the journey by which the instrument responses perfectly well to wherever you wish to go musically. The beautiful balance across all four strings leaves you gliding through different positions effortlessly, and if anything, once you start playing on it, you just want to keep exploring to reach the next level, held back only by your own lack of practice and technical excellence. That sense of ‘faszination’ that Felix as the maker has about his craft is fully embedded in the instrument and transferred to the player who, in the same manner, in turn continues to be fascinated and inspired by the sound it produces.