This adaptable instrument's origins date back centuries. Celtic legends amuse us with mystical stories describing the creation of stringed music, but practical history recounts that the modern birth of the violin occurred in Italy as early as the sixteenth century. The skilled craft of hand production was renowned in France as well, but it is the British classic type and its history that W. Meredith Morris writes about in British Violin Makers .
This classic, comprehensive reference to violin making, reprinted in 1920, features a biographical dictionary of craftsmen, along with many of their signatures and marks. Twenty-six photographs of selected makers and their instruments help place the contemporary reader in the style of the period. Reverend Morris's second edition improves upon the first 1904 edition by adding more than 150 names to the list of makers who produced six violins or more. A new foreword by music scholar Benjamin Hebbert explains the important role British violin makers played in the development of the instrument.
From Morris's narrative, one gets a feel for the importance of the craftsman and his materials. He explains the various types of wood and varnish used, and how they, along with the arch and contour, work together to produce a specific tone. Speaking with fervor, the way a wine connoisseur does when describing a certain vintage, Morris compares and
contrasts the quality of British instruments to that of other nations.