Cox Violins Blog

A Special History: Violin Opus 157

“Ginn” 1691 Long Pattern Strad copy

I had built two violins patterned on Marylou Churchill’s very large long pattern Strad before making this violin. One went to one of her students and the other she used as a back-up instrument, and for situations where she did not want to travel with her Strad.

Violin #157 "Ginn" StradIn 1989 Marylou’s Strad was having persistent problems with the table seam under the left hand coming open.  It was determined that the liner had been worn from repeated gluing and that removing the top and replacing the liner would be necessary.  Doing that work gave me an opportunity to study the violin in detail and take interior measurements directly from the plates and ribs.  The natural next step was to apply what I had learned to a new instrument, and this violin is the product.

The violin is built with much, but not all, of the wear of the original.  I remember Mary Lou complaining that my first copy, built as the violin would have been as new, did not feel comfortable or familiar in her hands.  She said she often rests her chin on the scroll of her violin during extended rests in her principal second violin chair with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  She wanted me to soften the scroll to make it feel more like her beloved Strad.

The maple for the back, neck and ribs of this violin came from a tree that had been struck by lightning in 1981 in Quaker City, NH at the home of Windsor chair maker Dave Sawyer.  I happened to visit as Dave was cutting the tree for firewood.  Seeing the attractive figure of the wood, I loaded as much of the wood as the springs of my car would allow.  This wood became my standard for the dozen or so copies of this violin I have made over the years.

The immediate inspiration from the open Strad, the years of its ownership and use by Marylou make this a special violin.  As often happened, Marylou loaned the violin to one of her students in need of a better instrument.  Amanda Burr convinced Marylou to sell this violin to her, and she used the violin professionally until her death in 2011. The violin is now available for sale, as is Amanda’s Baroque Violin, my #11. To see more photos and a description, visit the website.