Dmitry Gindin: Expert and consultant in fine stringed instruments


The Soffrittis

Ferrarese violin making experienced a lull of some 25 years between the last works of Giuseppe Marconcini and the revival of the craft there by Luigi Soffritti, a skilful carpenter from Casumaro, a village 25km west of Ferrara. Luigi, born the year Giuseppe Marconcini died, must have learned the basics from his more obscure predecessor Luigi Meletti, and eventually became an active maker in the late 1860s. He married Margherita Roversi. Their son Ettore was born in 1877; when he was only three, Margherita died.

Ettore was to become one of Italy's foremost craftsmen. As a young child he studied violin at the local conservatory, while also trying his hand as his father's assistant. In fact, it is believed that at age eight, Ettore had made his first violin - a half-size instrument that he then played himself. By the age of 12 Ettore was already helping his father in earnest. A mere three years later, in 1892, he opened his own workshop where he made and restored instruments while working as a carpenter - still his main occupation at the time. He married Giulia Siglieri in 1897 with whom he fathered a son, Silvio, who later briefly aided him in the workshop. Rather than following in his father's footsteps, Silvio was to became a proficient cellist. When Luigi died in February of 1903, Ettore was 25 and by then already one of the finest craftsmen in Italy.