Dmitry Gindin: Expert and consultant in fine stringed instruments


The Deganis

Domenico Degani, patriarch of the Degani family, lived and worked in Merlara, a commune of fewer than 3,000 inhabitants in the southwest corner of the province of Padua, some 100km from Venice. Domenico's slightly older contemporary, Gaetano Chiocchi, worked in Padua, halfway between Merlara and Venice, producing good but large and flat Maggini-modelled instruments. Although Chiocchi must have had some influence on him, Degani appears to have been self-taught.

Eugenio began his life and career assisting his father Domenico in Merlara but, destined for greater professional achievement, he did not long maintain this arrangement. When the family moved in 1867 to the larger neighbouring village of Montagnana, Eugenio opened his own premises there. Eugenio remained in Montagnana for much of his career, sending his instruments to numerous national and foreign exhibitions, where he received awards that included a bronze medal in Milan in 1881 and a diploma of honour in London. Sadly, very few of his instruments dated prior to the early 1880s survive with original labels intact.

Eugenio's son, Giulio Ettore, and his siblings Rosina, Marina and Melia, were all born in Montagnana, but after the death of Domenico in 1887, the family moved to Venice proper. Eugenio's nephew Giovanni Schwarz, who had already apprenticed in the Degani workshop, relocated with them.