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.




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


Musical Missions of Peace

Golden Music gives five clarinets to Meg York to take to Turkey.

Musical Mission of Peace champions a non-violent way to peace worldwide through the power of music.   They believe:

1) People who have learned and sung each others' popular love songs together are less likely to war with one another than those who have not.
2) Music fosters sincere, heart-to-heart communication which goes beyond treaties or political agreements.
3) Musicians make ideal international diplomats and ambassadors because they know how to work together in unifying and intuitive ways.
4) International cross-cultural sharing of popular songs easily dissolves fear-based perceptions.
5) Musical sharing promotes a healthy spiritual life, replaces materialistic orientations and is available to all, including children.
6) Musical proficiency opens the door to creating deep and trustworthy friendships across language and cultural boundaries and can heal the wounds of war.

Stories of Change Through Music
His dream has always been to travel the world and tell stories of change through music. Cyrus of Raw Music International went to Kurdistan, a semi-autonomous region in the north of Iraq, because few places in the world are changing more rapidly.

He’d read about a rich musical tradition carried out under the most brutal conditions. Singers traveled on foot and kept the Kurdish language and culture alive despite the best efforts of Saddam Hussein. During that regime, the very act of singing in Kurdish was political, and many musicians caught doing it were punished with death.

But in the Kurdistan of 2014, I found a musical void. The old musicians were gone. They were dead, or living abroad, or they had simply taken other jobs and forgotten how to play. The ouster of the old dictator came with the side benefit of new oil money. Those who once sang sad songs of the Kurdish past now found themselves preoccupied with more capitalist pursuits. The Kurds may be ignoring the music of the past, because for the first time in recent history, they can afford to imagine a future.

He traveled mountain villages and dusty cities and found almost no one who could play an instrument. In Kalar, a conservative, religious desert town, 18 year-old Mohammad described his situation to me: “I crave art, but my family says make money. My mother burned my books. They don’t understand.”

He met Helly Luv and Iraj, two amazing artists from opposite ends of the socio-economic scale, trying desperately to make it in the new Kurdistan. "I may have arrived too late to meet the legendary singers of old. But I was just in time to meet the young musicians shaping a new nation"    NBC News story on Cyrus:  http://www.nbcnews.com/news/mideast/ground-kurdistan-musicians-shaping-new-nation-n157901
Kosener in Muenster
We traveled a couple hours northeast to Munster, Germany. Again, I researched and found a few music stores to check out. We found a beautiful campground outside of the city. Munster is a bicycling haven! There are hundreds of people out riding everywhere! This was a stroke of luck, because we pulled our bikes out of the RV and Siobhan’s Chariot and set-off to town. It was about 15 minutes on nice bike paths and we were to the town center. We checked out one of the addresses, but they were closed. We had some lunch at a beautiful outdoor café, then rode about 10 more minutes and we found Our destination, Kosener Violin. Amazing coincidence, but below Kosener's workshop was Vishner Music Store, and they had a beautiful collection of violins for sale.
We started looking at the Vishner ones first. This was an active music store, with a lot of focus on print music. The owner of the store, Vishner was who we talked to. His grandfather founded the store. He gave us a lithograph of his grandfather. His violins were also restored and set-up. Three were very high grade and 3 were a bit more like old student violins. We enjoyed meeting him and seeing his store. They were quite busy that day. They had toys for Siobhan to play with which she still talks about the music store that had toys. Vishner had some marbles that ran through an obstacle course and he offered Siobhan one to take with her, and, just like her dad, she fired back at him, two? Of course, he couldn’t resist and he said that felt a little like negotiations with Alex.
Meanwhile, I had gone upstairs to visit Kosener. He had a large two room workshop on the third floor of the building. I ran the bell and he opened the door formally and invited me in. A Cellist had arrived at the same time, so I mentioned to Kosener what we came for and he said he had some violins for sale, then while he waited on the Cellist, I ran downstairs and told Alex to come up and help me with negotiations.
Alberti in Gelsenkirchen

I had met Alberti at the Frankfurt trade show, as he has his own booth there to sell violins. The quantity and type of instrument we were looking for is not what he brings to the trade show, so we decided we would come by his place. It seems I’d seem him a couple of times before at other trade shows. He is a buyer and seller of violins, a professional violinist himself, not a luthier. He was playing, the very week we were there, in one of Wagner’s symphony’s in the orchestra. He kept talking about how hard the music was and he had rehearsal the next day. He lives in a nearby city, Gelsenkirchen. We had arranged to meet him at 4, but we ended not getting there until 6 pm! We met him at his house, a beautifully appointed three story apartment on a busy street. He welcomed us into his sitting room.

His wife, daughter (who was acted as translator) and mother and granddaughter were all home. They were having snacks in the living room and watching TV. The daughter went and got Siobhan some toys and the wife entertained her in the living room while Alex and I looked at violins. Siobhan really liked it there; she still talks about Alberti's house, and enjoys watching the videos we took there.

Alberti was ready for us and he had about 30 violins to wade through. We ended up buying 17 of them. His were in perfect condition, mostly ready for a player, as he has several luthiers from Poland that does the restorations and set-up for him. Alberti is from Poland and, while he didn’t say where he got his violins from, it sort of seemed he got them from there, as he spoke of many friends and contacts in Poland.

After a couple hours of looking and selecting the instruments we wanted, it seemed we were on our way to a great lifetime friendship. Alberti and his family are very warmhearted and just a joy to be with. Well, we were now way past dinnertime, so we headed out on foot to a nearby restaurant called The White House. Their specialty was meat from South America. It was very nice. Alberti and his wife came with us to dinner and we managed to converse somewhat, although their English was not fluent. Alex still thinks this was the best dinner of the trip!

Alberti's daughter, Patricia and her daughter, left to drive home as they lived an hour south of Alberti. Patricia also was at the trade show acting as Alberti’s translator there.

By now, it was very late and we decided just to sleep in front of Alberti’s house in the RV. It was a very noisy night although a bit less in the wee hours of the night, but as morning came we were awakened by the street train and a lot of traffic. We awoke and started driving at 6 am toward Aachen. We had arranged to meet Alberti in Koln, right across the street from the Sonatina shop, to finalize the transaction (pay him) as he had business near there and knew of the place. Alex told him we needed to go to the Sonatina shop the next day, so it was all arranged.

In Aachen, we tried to find mineral baths to take Siobhan to, but none would admit young children. Aachen is famous for their healing mineral baths. We had read and heard about this, but none of the stuff we read mentioned any age cutoff. Turns out, the water is too harsh for a child’s skin. We were discouraged, but we managed to have some fun and found a beautiful park that we had all to ourselves for a couple hours. Then we headed back to Koln to pick up the violins.

Clemente in Koln, Cologne

We left Wetzlar on Tuesday, April 12th. On the final night there, we slept for our first night in the RV, parked in the beautiful river area next to old town Wetzlar. We were only footsteps from our third story flat above the old town jewelry store. We had grown to love the area. It was very peaceful.

We drove north west to Cologne, or Koln in German. It was less than two hours drive. I had researched the music and violin stores in the area and one came up in particular that seemed to have promise, as it seemed large and I felt they might have some fine and rare violins for sale. It was Sonatina Music.

This workshop specializes in bow making and well as bow and string instrument restoration. We arrived there during the lunch hours (most European businesses close between 12-2:39), so we walked nearby to what happened to be the train station and had lunch. The train station was right next to the magnificent cathedral of Koln.

From Wikipaedia:
The cathedral is a World Heritage Site, one of the best-known architectural monuments in Germany, and Cologne's most famous landmark, described by UNESCO as an "exceptional work of human creative genius". It is Germany's most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day.

Construction of Cologne Cathedral began in 1248 and took, with interruptions, until 1880 to complete. It is 144.5 metres long, 86.5 m wide and its towers are approximately 157 m tall. The cathedral is one of the world's largest churches and the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. For four years, 1880-84, it was the tallest structure in the world, until the completion of the Washington Monument. It has the second-tallest church spires, only surpassed by the single spire of Ulm Minster, completed 10 years later in 1890. Because of its enormous twin spires, it also presents the largest façade of any church in the world. The choir of the cathedral, measured between the piers, also holds the distinction of having the largest height to width ratio of any Medieval church, 3.6:1, exceeding even Beauvais Cathedral which has a slightly higher vault.

Cologne's medieval builders had planned a grand structure to house the reliquary of the Three Kings and fit its role as a place of worship of the Holy Roman Emperor. Despite having been left incomplete during the medieval period, Cologne Cathedral eventually became unified as "a masterpiece of exceptional intrinsic value" and "a powerful testimony to the strength and persistence of Christian belief in medieval and modern Europe".

We ate at McDonalds – not exactly adventurous, but sometimes food that is familiar (not to mention faster service and cheaper) is needed on a long trip like this. There was a large model train display running in the train station which Siobhan really liked.

Sonatina's shop was just 5 blocks from all this magnificence!

We walked back and rang the bell on the huge wood doorway. The owner himself came to great us. We explained who we were. He thought a moment, then invited us in. We climbed the cold stairway into his second story complex and we were in the shop. His English was pretty good and we managed to communicate. Siobhan watched a movie on the IPad. Alex and I stepped into the adjoining room and Alfredo started bringing violins out. It was funny, because at first he thought he wouldn’t have anything for us, but then he kept finding things. There were two luthiers working in the next room adjacent to us. He brought out 20 in total. We bought 17 of those. They were all very beautiful! One of the interesting pieces was one we call the Red Violin, as its finish was a rich dark red. There was also a beautiful ¾ violin. We ended up coming back the next day to finalize the purchase and pick up the instruments as we had an appointment that evening that we were late to.