In fall 2012 I attended the Violin Society of America meetings in Cleveland. Several dealers brought interesting examples of significant maker’s work and had them on display. The violin that caught my attention was an A & H Amati grand pattern instrument. Its simple elegance and refined taste made me feel at home with it, and the one-piece slab back was just like a batch of wood I cut in 1983.
I have enjoyed going back to a small Brothers (Antonio and Hieronymus) Amati violin model I had taken from an instrument owned by Blanche Moyse — a neighbor and one of the founders of the Marlboro Festival — and immediately started thinking how the intriguing tonal characteristics of that model would work on a slightly larger pattern. It was typical for makers, such as Stradivari, to have several basic sizes of patterns to be fitted to the physical limits and tonal desires of a particular client.
Antonio and Hieronymus were the sons of Andrea Amati, one of the early innovators of the violin. They refined the often inelegant and rough proportions of their father’s work, and avoided the overworked fussiness of Hieronymus’ son Nicolo who took over the business and was the kingpin of Cremonese making in the generation before Stradivari.
Thus was inspired my opus 802. For the rib pattern I found in my collection a form taken from a Grancino violin with all the right dimensions and curves. The wood selection was made while inspired in Cleveland, and the styling of the construction was based on my notes and photos of Blanche’s violin.
The results are fully satisfying with the highly textured, high quality tone color the arch and design provide, with a large, open quality provided by the larger size and slab maple of the back. While the tone is not quite as big and bold as my preferred Guarneri work, this violin will sing sweetly.
The violin bears the facsimile label “Antonius & Hieronym Fr. Amati, Cremonen Andreae fil F. 1613”. It also bears on the treble side the label “Douglas C. Cox, Brattleboro, Vermont, 2013, #802” and is branded and initialed on the inside. It is patterned after a violin by the “Brothers Amati” dated 1613. It is built of well aged North American grown wood. The back is cut on the slab from one piece of New England maple with spectacular medium-narrow flames descending slightly from the bass side. The ribs and neck are of maple similar to that of the back. The table is of two pieces of Engelmann spruce from British Columbia of regular medium growth. There is a wing of similar growth added to the lower bass bout. The varnish is of an orange-brown color over a golden ground and is shaded and imitated. The fittings are of boxwood.
The principal dimensions are:
Body Length: 357 mm
Upper Bout: 165 mm
Middle Bout: 110 mm
Lower Bout: 204 mm
Rib Heighth: 30-32 mm
String Length: 327 mm