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Cremona-based International Violin Maker Eric Blot on Opening a New Showroom in New York City

A fine and modern Italian instruments specialist, Eric Blot will be offering sales and certification

 

The Violin Channel recently sat down with violin maker and expert Eric Blot as he opens a new showroom in Columbus Circle, in the heart of New York City.

 

Can you tell us about yourself, your journey and career milestones as a luthier and instrument dealer?

I was born in Paris, and after my normal studies, I went to the violin making school in Cremona in 1974, with G.B. Morassi as my teacher. At that time, the school was very small. I was lucky that after only one year of school, I started to make my own instruments. After that period, it was clear to me that this was the world for me. After 4 years, I returned to Paris, where I was making new instruments but also started to learn repairs and bow rehairing. Three years later, I decided to come back to Italy and settled in Perugia in central Italy. For 15 years, I was here repairing old Italian instruments and also making new ones. This is when I got to see a lot of instruments from the 19th and early 20th century instruments. This was a very important period for me to learn about almost unknown makers (at that time), as well as more famous old makers.

A few years later, I understood that many dealers out of Italy didn’t understand these “modern” Italian makers, and I had an idea for a first book which was then published by a small publishing company from Cremona named Turris. At that time, even the publisher himself didn’t believe that these books could have any success. This is why, to save money, he only wanted to have a few instruments in the books and we decided to divide them by region.

Later on, essentially for family reasons, I came back to Cremona where I opened my shop in 1996. In the beginning, I was still working on making new instruments and repairs, but soon I was too busy to do all the work by myself. Today the shop has 3 restorers in the workshop and 3 people in reception helping to organize and write certificates, and to show violins for sale. My son Mael is also learning about expertise, taking pictures, and organizing our archive, but he also makes fantastic new cellos and violins.

 

What drew you to the string instruments world?

In my early years, I was attracted to this world, even though the only person in my family who understood it was my grandmother who was a musician. Then a casual encounter with a harpsichord maker encouraged me to do it. After asking violin makers/dealers from Paris, it was clear that they would never hire an apprentice and that I was also too old for the violin maker school in Mirecourt (France). I was very disappointed, but then I went to the Cremona school and everything started.

 

What are your specialties?

After many years of studying modern Italian makers, I became specialized in recognizing them. I published several books about modern Italian makers and also organized many exhibitions. For this purpose, I have done research in several historical archives to find the real data. And of course, I was still studying the evolution of the knowledge of the old Italian as well. Thanks to research in many archives and recent discoveries of the lives of our famous makers, expertise has changed significantly in the last decades.

Today, even though I am still more known for the “modern” Italian makers (19th and 20th centuries) I also make certificates for the old Italian instruments. I participated for many years in the important exhibitions held in Cremona, about the Amati family, the Bergonzi family, and the “1730-1750” Cremona exhibition with several Stradivari and Guarneri instruments. In most of those known exhibitions of those years, I was part of the “scientific committee.” I was also one of the organizers of the famous exhibition in Brescia about the old Brescian instruments of Gasparo da Salò, Maggini, and Rogeri’s family. I also published the book of this exhibition.

I have given several lectures around the world for many different associations of violin makers, about modern and old makers.

 

Are there some instruments in your career you particularly enjoyed working on as a restorer?

As a restorer, I was always interested in receiving special old instruments to restore, as it is the best way to understand the way they were made. Emotions are overwhelming when an old instrument is still in its original condition, which is quite rare today. Of course, the emotion is bigger when it is a Stradivari, Amati, Guarner, or other rare makers, when they are all untouched. It is always something that you will remember, and you learn a lot from those experiences.

But of course, if I have to nominate some instruments that especially impressed me, among several others I can nominate for sure the Stradivari 1717 “Tyrell” (also known as “Eck”), the small pattern Amati 1668 ex “Cozio di Salabue”, the 1743 Guarneri del Gesù “Brussilov” or the c. 1742 “Saiton”, the wonderful Carlo Bergonzi 1733 also ex-Tarisio, an incredible and unusual S. Seraphin 1733 violin still in baroque condition- all instruments that I was lucky to know well.

The ethics and the new techniques of restoration have changed the way we look at what you can do and what not, and this is also a constant challenge and a joy to learn about new things all the time.

 

What do you love the most about your profession? What are you most passionate about?

After many years of experience, and I think it is the same for most of us, the violin making world is still fascinating because you always learn something new, even about the most well-
known makers. Behind all the fantastic instruments there is always a person with his history, a private life, and evolution that is reflected in their making. So all of the makers had their evolution that we have to discover. This life is never-ending learning and this is fascinating indeed.

 

What are the main characteristics, for you, of a truly fine instrument?

A truly fine instrument…well it is of course the one that is really nice looking, maybe for its craftsmanship, nice varnish, or a fantastic sound…

But all this is subjective, depending on your taste and your education about instruments.

Some instruments impress everybody deeply, they literally “speak” to our soul. It is exactly like some paintings, except that they also have this magical sound, a quality that is mostly found in the good old Cremonese instruments.

 

You are opening a new showroom here in New York City this month, that is very exciting news! What prompted you to make this decision?

I am quite well-known in Europe and not that much in the USA (except for the dealer world). I would like to offer my services here. What strongly helped my decision is the number of very nice instruments that are here in New York. They were massively imported in the past decades, and there are still a great number of them here in the city, this is not true in most of the big cities in Europe. Several dealer friends asked me to come here because they need to have an expert in town to examine and write certificates for Italian instruments.

 

Why did you choose New York?

New York boasts a large number of professional and amateur musicians, enriched by top music schools and a vibrant array of musical activities. It is close to Europe and I have many friends here. And I love the energy of this city!

 

What can people expect to find at the showroom?

At the moment in our small showroom, we receive musicians and dealers by appointment to examine their instruments for authenticity and eventually to issue certificates of authenticity. We can take professional pictures directly there. We also have Italian instruments and French bows from Europe for sale by appointment. You can make an appointment by calling +1 646 598 1768.

 

upcoming events

july 2024

16julAll Day27Johann Sebastian Bach International Cello & Baroque Cello Competition(All Day) Thomaskirche Leipzig, Thomaskirchhof, Thomaskirchhof 18, 04109 Leipzig, GermanyEvent Type :competitions Event TagsBaroque Cello Competition,Cello Competition,Johann Sebastian Bach International Cello Competition

august 2024

19augAll Day24Tibor Varga International Junior Violin Competition(All Day) Ferme-Asile, Promenade des Pêcheurs 10 1950 Sion SuisseEvent Type :competitions Event Tagscompetition,Tibor Varga

22augAll Day01sepKloster Schöntal International Violin Competition(All Day) Schöntal Monastery, Klosterhof 6, 74214 Schöntal, GermanyEvent Type :competitions Event TagsKloster Schöntal International Violin Competition

26augAll Day30London Classic Violin Competition(All Day) Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Rd, South Kensington, London SW7 2BS, United KingdomEvent Type :competitions Event TagsClassic Violin Olympus International Competition,violin competition

30augAll Day01sepBanff International String Quartet Festival(All Day) The Banff Centre, 107 Tunnel Mountain Drive Box 1020 Banff T1L 1H5 Canada Event Type :Other Event TagsBanff International String Quartet Festival,string quartet

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