For as long as I can remember, music has occupied an important place in my life – so has tinkering with small objects.
One day, just after I turned 20, while visiting a violin shop in New York to have my bow rehaired, I suddenly realized that I wanted to be a violin-maker. (The workshop, full of tools, wood and pieces of violins really struck a chord.) I went to Paris with the hope of finding a master craftsman from whom to learn the trade.
Sure enough, I became apprenticed to Bernard Prunier, a remarkable self-taught luthier, who taught me the essentials of stringed-instrument making, from rebecs to harpsichords to viols.
Later on, I continued learning through the study of old instruments in museums and private collections and by listening to musicians. To this day, I continue to make discoveries.(It’s a never-ending process.)
My principal activity is building viola da gambas, based on historic instruments that I have studied carefully and in some instances, restored. I am always interested in discovering « new » models.
“Nursery school”, 1954 (Maryland): off to a great start!
My first bass viol, 1972
My first violin, 1976 (Paris)
In the workshop, 1976 (Paris)
Grandma and tree (Chautauqua, New York, USA): This photo could explain my connection to wood.
From my Renaissance and baroque vantage point, my work follows the course of history in both directions, back to the Middle Ages (fiddles and rebecs) and forward to the modern violin family.
I work on commission for musicians, both amateur and professional, promising young students and well-regarded players, all around the world.
Some of my orders come from conservatories (Geneva, Lyon, Paris) or from research groups (the Scola Cantorum and the Music Museum in Basel).
In addition I do restoration and set-ups of old viols.
Since the year 2000, I have participated in bi-annual meetings with a group of European viol-makers, organized by Bernard Michaud, who runs the specialized sawmill « Bois de Lutherie » in the Jura mountains of France.
We spend a week at the sawmill, collaborating on research projects and exchanging ideas, before returning to our individual workshops, full of new ideas.