Golden Music Center Blog
The Szasz Friderich Line at Golden Music

Featured Violin - the Szasz Friderich line exclusive to Golden Music; we have been visiting Romania and buying the "fritzy's" since 2007. At an affordable price for a single maker master instrument, the Fritzy's are hand crafted in Reghin, Mures, in the heart of Transalvania, population 33,000.  The industry of Reghin is closely related to the traditions of the medieval trades, starting with the resources in the close vicinity, rich in wood and farm produces, the goods of the private producers from Reghin are in the market all over Romania and abroad.   Reghin is well known for the industry of the musical instruments, especially of violins. There are many companies that produces instruments using the famous resonance wood from Calimani and Gurghiu forests. The violins made in Reghin are used abroad.


Szasz (nickname "Fritzy") began his work in a violin factory in 1977.  He left the large factory for a small workshop in 1990, where he was an apprentice to Ciurba Nicolae.  He perfected his technique alongside a master with his guidance and experience.  In 2003, Szasz opened his own workshop.  Hemakes instruments for people all around the world.  

Here is an example of one of the Golden Music "Fritzy's (click here)"    Right now we have several in stock including product number 4579 and 4580.


This picture is from our first trip to Reghin in 2006.  It is the owner, Mary and Fritzy.




More about violins as an Investment


You can play your Strad to your heart’s content, or rent it out to violinistJoshua Bell. Just be sure not to drop it.

Not much has changed in the field of violin production and dealing since Antonio Stradivari set up shop in Cremona, Italy, during the late 17th century. Dukes and queens coveted the craftsman’s creations back then; today, the instruments sell for wild sums to a comparable group of wealthy amateurs.

Of the 1,100 violins that Stradivari is believed to have made during his lifetime, only 650 are known to remain. Although there were other noted violin makers in Stradivari’s time—such as Guarneri and Amati, whose works now fetch great sums of money—the surviving Strads are more numerous, more famous and more expensive.

Even the most successful and celebrated luthier of all time might have been surprised to learn that his “Lady Tennant” violin was sold last year byChristie’s for more than $2.03 million, the highest amount ever paid for a musical instrument at a public auction.

In 1998, Christie’s auctioned a very similar Strad (crafted in 1698, oneyear earlier than the Lady Tennant) for $880,000. One could infer, then, that certain Strad violins more than doubled in value in this seven-year period, says Kerry Keane, the musical-instrument department head at Christie’s.

In private, they may go for even more: The Stradivari Society, a private Chicago-based organization that purchases rare violins and loans them to promising young musicians, values some “golden era” (post-1700) Stradivari violins at $6 million each.

Stradivari (born 1644, died 1737) is believed by many to have built his finest instruments as an older and consequently more skilled craftsman. An early-period (pre-1700) Stradivarius, therefore, may sell for less. However, “such examples represent excellent values for musicians, as sound does not precisely follow price,” write Stradivari Society founders Robert Bein and Geoffrey Fushi in their essay, “The Masterpieces of Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù: A Market Perspective.”

According to the Stradivari Society, the value of Stradivari and Guarneri violins has tripled since 1990.

“As institutions and museums hold an increasing percentage of the great violins, the competition intensifies for the remaining instruments when they do become available, and the continued increases in violin prices of the current decade dramatically reflect this fact,” say Bein and Fushi.

What gives this particular fiddle its unrivaled appeal? Some scientists have suggested that Stradivari used alpine spruce that had grown during an era of uncommonly cold weather. This may have made the wood abnormally dense and contributed to the brilliant sound quality of his instruments. Others insist that no instrument maker has ever worked harder.

Perhaps the answer lies closer to the fact that instrument connoisseurs, like stock investors, are drawn to a great story. Strads are undoubtedly beautiful in sound and design, and many have been passed down through the hands of generations of great musicians, from 18th-century master Nicolo Paganini to 20th-century virtuoso Yehudi Menuhin.

The allure of rich provenance may also explain how rock legends can turn cheaply-made guitars into million-dollar purchases. While violins still top the list of the most expensive instruments, their fretted cousins are quickly catching up, especially those attached to celebrity names.

“Musical instruments have been great investments, such that I now consider them to be far superior to money in the bank, especially at today’s interest rates, or in most stocks or mutual funds,” says George Gruhn, a guitar dealer based in Nashville, Tenn., who has sold Fenders and Les Pauls to Paul McCartney, Johnny Cash and Eric Clapton.

In fact, Gruhn suspects that Clapton’s “Blackie” guitar—the most expensive ever sold publicly, at $959,500 in 2004—was assembled from guitar parts purchased in part from him in the 1970s for, oh, maybe a few hundred bucks. (Read Forbes FYI’s 2005 article on collecting rare guitars, “While My Guitar Gently Reaps.”)

Unlike the stock market, with its booms and busts, the musical instrument market has only periods of growth and periods of plateau, Gruhn postulates. Some guitars in his collection that would have brought in $50,000 one year ago now go for $150,000, he says.

But is this kind of growth sustainable? “Only if one does [one's] due diligence,” cautions Christie’s Keane. He cites six fine-instrument value determinants:

1. Attribution (who made it)

2. Quality

3. Condition

4. Provenance (who played it)

5. Freshness to the market. An instrument brought out of 200 years in hiding incites “an air of discovery,” Keane says.

6. Fashion. For example, “classical guitars are hot right now.”

Once you’ve done your homework and put in your winning bid, don’t closet your new acquisition or display it on the mantle under your Picasso. Like wine or art, fine instruments need to be stored in a carefully monitored, semi-humid climate to maintain their worth.

As for the most expensive instrument ever sold—”The Lady Tennant”—it could fetch up to $3 million today in prime condition, Keane estimates.

Not a bad return for an old piece of wood.



The Kirschnek Violin Line at Golden Music



The Kirschnek Violins - This company was established in 1880 in Erlangen/Bubenreuth, West Germany.  It is still run by the family.  The owners of Golden Music have had many lovely visits with this family, including a tea party in their heavily treed back yard of their house which is next to their workshop.  We carry a full spread of different models that you can see here and on our web page. 

The company was established by Joseph Muller, born 1850 in Schonbach.  He was the great grandfather of the owner today, Ilse Fischer.  Since the beginning, he was well known for his fine workmanship and best tone quality.  He won many awards and even exhibited his instruments at the world exhibition in Paris in 1900.  In 1922, his grandson-in-law, Franz Kirschnek, established his own company under his name and the label, Franz Kirschnek.  He began exporting his instruments to other European countries and to the US.  They moved after World War II to the present location.  The family states "We feel obliged to continue making violins, violas and cellos of fine quality.  We are proud to say that we still do not import any parts from other countries.  Each one of our instruments is entirely made in Germany."   

We have several models in stock from the Kirschneks and plan to have more in the future. 

Kirschnek Arnoldus master

Kirschnek Conradus master

Kirchnek Knoblach master

Kirschnek Gesang master


The European Influence in our Violin Workshop... in Colorado...

The violin emerged in its present form in Italy, France and Germany in the mid 1500s. The richness and true knowledge base of the art of violin building is embedded in Europe and the makers trained in the schools in those countries. From traveling worldwide, Golden Music has befriended many of the journeymen in this craft and hosts these violin dignitaries in our Golden shop year round. This influence not only assists our Luthiers in learning the depth of the European tradition, it steeps our Music Product Specialists and owners in this knowledge.  Moreover, every instrument provided for you at Golden Music gives you this tradition as much as possible fused in it at many different price points and styles of instruments.  Hence, for every instrument, we want to create the highest value of the European tradition and stylings in your price range.  On the left below is Ferenc Borosi from Hungary and on the right is Carlos Roberts from Italy.  Both recently spent part of the year at Golden Music in our shop, teaching our Luthiers, as well as time with our Music Product Specialists and the owners.  The third picture, is the Owner, Mary, her friend, Nancy, and Thomas Hummel, a Master Luthier from Stuttgart Germany who has been to Golden Music every year for the last 5 years.














Three Ways to Become a Much Better Violinist


From Violinist.com

Over the years it has seemed to me that there are,  in the case of many players,  three basic, uncomplicated things they can do to become seriously better players.  Here they are:

1)  Learn the even numbered positions.  If I could have a dollar for every player even up to and beyond intermediate level who is not comfortable in the even positions I would be able to buy up the applecorp.  What an earth is going on dudes (especially teachers!)?  Why are you not learning /teaching this fundamental thing?  If you don`t know these you don`t know the fingerboard. Yes,  you don`t actually know where certain notes are on that long black thing in front of your nose.   Do you realize how much better an orchestral player you would be with this simple knowledge?   How much better your sight reading would be? You could stop posting about sight reading....;)  How many more musical and expressive possibilities would become available?  Material:  Kreutzer no2 in 2nd/4th and 6th position everyday for a year;  the relevant sevcik;  Schradieck;  Paginini Barucaba Variation in 4th position etc.  

2)  Learn to play at the heel.

Admittedly this may be a little different (but not really) for the Russian bowing school, but most people use Franco Belgian type these days and it`s never been an excuse anyway.  My main teacher`s teacher,  Albert Sammons said `Master the heel and you`ve mastered to bow.` He may have had a point.   Don`t compromise!  Move under the thumb.  You are using six inches too short a bow. It`s just not good enough. 

BTW the heel does not automatically equate with `loud.` Some of the most delicate ,  refined and musical touces can only be done at the heel or in the lower third of the bow,  not faffing around at the point because that is supposed to be `the quiet part of the bow.`

Materials:  Kreutzer no2 and the f major separate bows and various combinations. Sevcik bowing exercises.  Casorti etc.  Scales!

3)  Handle your instrument like your loved one.

The way people handle instruments often makes me sick.  A month back a semi professional player asked to try my violin and took it from me by the bouts leaving sticky fingers on the violin.  I make a very harsh judgement about players based on this simple thing.  If you can`t  respect the beauty and elegance of your violin to the extent you are happy to smear oil on it you probably don`t have that last 0.1 percent of dedication necessary to be a pro.  Respecting,  indeed loving your instrunment is fundamental and it should be the first things teachers teach.  In the same way I have amateur students who put expensive instruments on the floor,  hang bows down so the point touches the ground while at the same time fumbling in their case for this weeks scores and my pay packet.  The same players leave instruments unattended almost anywhere during rehearsal breaks.  The big differnce between a pro and an amateur (in the judgmental sense rather than the regular employment distinction):  an amateur behaves in an amateur way towards their instrument irrespective of how good they are.

Materials: half a brain,  commonsense,  respect  and a teacher who insists on this from the beginning.

A Brief History of the Violin
The violin is a descendant from the Viol family of instruments. This includes any stringed instrument that is fretted and/or bowed. It predecessors include the medieval fiddle, rebec, and lira da braccio. We can assume by paintings from that era, that the three string violin was in existence by at least 1520. By 1550, the top E string had been added and the Viola and Cello had emerged as part of the family of bowed string instruments still in use today.
It is thought by many that the violin probably went through its greatest transformation in Italy from 1520 through 1650. Famous violin makers such as the Amati family were pivotal in establishing the basic proportions of the violin, viola, and cello. This family’s contributions to the art of violin making were evident not only in the improvement of the instrument itself, but also in the apprenticeships of subsequent gifted makers including Andrea Guarneri, Francesco Rugeri, and Antonio Stradivari.
Stradivari, recognized as the greatest violin maker in history, went on to finalize and refine the violin’s form and symmetry. Makers including Stradivari, however, continued to experiment through the 19th century with archings, overall length, the angle of the neck, and bridge height.
As violin repertoire became more demanding, the instrument evolved to meet the requirements of the soloist and larger concert hall. The changing styles in music played off of the advancement of the instrument and visa versa.
In the 19th century, the modern violin became established. The modern bow had been invented by Francois Tourte (1747-1835). Its weight, length, and balance allowed the player to produce power and brilliance in the higher ranges. It was Louis Spohr’s invention of the chin rest around 1820 that made it possible for the player to hold the violin comfortably and play in the higher positions. Spohr’s chin rest also resulted in the significant advancement of playing technique and allowed the violin repertoire to reach its virtuoso level. The advent of the shoulder rest (no known date) was also an important contribution to the ease of playing.
Players in Bach’s day held the violin by placing a chamois on their shoulder so the violin would not slip, but stay in place by gentle pressure from the chin and shoulder. The instrument was angled towards the floor constricting movement of the arm underneath the neck and thereby prohibiting playing in the upper positions. The Bach E Major Violin Concerto was composed at a time (ca. 1720) when the violin had no chin or shoulder rest, had a shorter fingerboard, and was strung entirely of gut strings. Players also used little or no vibrato. All this combined with the bow in use (shorter and lighter than the present day Tourte bow), made for a soft, muddy, rough sound. Today’s performances sound louder in volume, but softer in texture. The sound has a brilliance and clarity to it that would not have been possible in Bach’s day. Despite the fact that violins in Bach’s time were not “modern” by today’s standards, his solo string instrument compositions are some of the most challenging repertoire for any serious student of the violin, viola, or cello.    from the Lancaster Orchestra.com
June Master Sale - Featured Violin - White Bros Luthiers



The White Brothers, Ira Johnson and Asa Warren, are described* as "the first Boston master makers of violins".  Both Whites are reported to have been fine woodworkers who taught themselves the craft of violin making by studying instruments from the European masters. Asa and Ira J. were in business together as music dealers, publishers and instrument makers under the name I. J. & A. W. White from 1849 to 1852 at 52 Court Street, and as White Brothers from 1853 until 1863 at 86 Tremont Street.  After 1863, Ira went out on his own relocating just north of the city first in Malden, Massachusetts and then later in Melrose.

Asa Warren White was born in Barre, Massachusetts in 1826. He worked in his young days for Henry Prentiss [dealer and publisher], with a violin maker named Giradol, a quick workman, who worked on all forms of stringed instruments. In 1849 Ira J. and A. W. White formed a partnership and worked together repairing and making different instruments. Asa Warren made his instruments after the Stradiuarius and Guarnerius models. After Ira J. withdrew from the firm Asa W. White was in business alone; he turned out several hundred violins "and about ten 'Cellos, several violas, three viol da gambas, and two viol d'Amors. A. W. White received a gold medal from the Massachusetts Mechanics' Fair." His shop in Boston was a training school for some of the later violin makers. He died in 1893.   Ira Johnson White died in December of 1895 at the age of 82. 

We have two White Brothers violins, the Allegro and the Premier.  

Link to our web page:  http://goldenmusic.co/products/4673




*from Contributions to the Art of Music in America by the Music Industries of Boston, 1640-1936



June Master Sale - Featured Violin - Francois Breton

Francois Breton - France - 1778-1830

Francois Breton was a violin maker who did most of his work between 1778-1830 in Mirecourt, France.  He was the personal luthier to the Duchesse d’Angouleme.  He was a very prolific make and was imitated by many others.  His style was quite refined, generally a little over-sized, with flat arch and clear yellow varnish.  Thousands of factory made instruments were produced in his style after his death.  Breton also made good cellos and bows.  He would often put a brand on the back button and occasionally inscribe on the pegbox “F. Breton.”  His printed label would read F Breton, Musicarius, Mitecurti, anno 1805, F Breton brevete Luthier de S.A.R., Mme, la Duchesse d’Angouleme.  Breton died in 1830.  Link to  web page:  Breton





Here's a link to the sound bite:  Breton Sound

German Violins.... Why they are a good value...

In the early 20th century, there was equality in respect and pricing among violins from Italy, France, UK and Germany, but after World War I, when Schonback became part of the Czech Republic, they became the cheap product of commercial instruments and their neighbor, Markneukirchen, German instruments imported parts and by associate also became viewed as "cheapened." France concentrated on Germany's problems and established inroads in US and Europe markets. As World War II developed, many of the prominent Jewish musicians that had promoted German makers were forced from their positions, which led to boycotts of German goods by overseas Jewish clients. Many German makers' livelihoods disappeared. After war prejudices remained for many years, but by the 1960s, the German craftman's respect began emerging. This leads "Old German instruments as a tremendous investment because they combine quality woods and workmanship in an old (and therefore well played in) package and for an affordable sum." (from The Strad Magazine, March 2014.)

Golden Music has numerous German violins starting at under $1,000 up to several thousand dollars.  Until June 30th, everything is 30% off ($300-$2,500 off!). Most can be purchased on the rent-to-own program for a low monthly amount. The German violin shown here is the Karl Muller copy stock #4730 for $1595 on sale for $1016!

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