jan 13

del Gesù: The Plowden

This post originally appeared on the ‘fiddlefish.com’ blog. It’s here for archival purposes only.


Jan Spiden, a wonderfully talented Czech maker, communicated to me over the weekend that he is going to be modeling my commissioned violin after Del Gesu’s “Plowden.” This came as really great news as I know the Plowden to be both powerful and stunning. If Jan can come close to finding spruce wood for the back that resembles the original, I will be blown away. The single-piece diagonal and deeply flamed back which this violin possesses, is simply jaw-dropping. A little bit of digging on this 1735 Del Gesu revealed that it has mostly been owned my private collectors and violin houses for its entire life-span; never home in the humble hands of musicians on more than a couple of occasions. I think this is testament to Del Gesu as “True Master.” His 150-or-so existing examples are so sought after, many of them only pass from collector to collector, millionaire to millionaire. Jan is a busy guy these days; it seems after winning the 2003 Triennale violin maker’s competition in Cremona Italy, conferencing and panelling symposiums and competitions is taking him all over the place. I am certain that this unique vantage point for all things novel in this renaissance of violin making will continue to further his abilities in the years that come. Premysl Spidlen, Jan’s late father, was how I was first introduced to this incredible family of Czech makers. I was in a shop, penniless but doing a bit of pseudo-shopping nonetheless, when after playing on a Strad and a Pietro Guarneri for a while, the owner of the shop said: “But… I much prefer this here violin…,” handed me a gorgeous violin by Premysl. I was floored. I am just glad to have found the Spidlens at such an important time in my life.