Monday, January 30, 2023

Feel good story of the month

I received this link via an email list by Alan Jacobs. Delightful story. Here's a snippet to whet your appetite, but do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.
There are other luthiers with expertise in instruments from the Italian craftsman’s golden period, from 1700 to 1725, but master violin restorers are rare — around 20 worldwide now — and Becker is widely regarded as the best. At 64, he has worked on more than 120 Stradivarius violins — likely more, he says, than any other living person. David Fulton, a Seattle-based former software engineer and entrepreneur who once possessed the world’s largest collection of historic Cremonese instruments (named for the city where Stradivari and other renowned Italian luthiers worked) with 28, including eight Strads, entrusted Becker to care for them. (Fulton has since started selling off the bulk of them.) “He’s probably as fine a woodworker as lives on the planet today,” says Fulton. “Without men like him, these things would have decayed into splinters long ago.”

People travel from all over the globe to hand-deliver their instruments to Becker’s office, across the street from Grant Park. (When it comes to multimillion-dollar instruments, FedEx doesn’t cut it.) Once, says Becker, Nigel Kennedy, one of the most famous solo violinists of the 1980s, flew in from England for a day just so Becker could make him a new sound post, the small dowel that sits inside the violin and transfers vibrations from front to back. “He’s like a great surgeon,” says Bell. “His work is so meticulous. It’s like constructing a sailboat inside a bottle. There’s a reason I fly here to bring him my fiddle. He’s the master.”

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