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Turning Back the Pages

Unknown ladies at the old Warren County Fairgrounds racetrack in Warrensburgh in 1923, waiting for the horse racing to commence.

Unknown ladies at the old Warren County Fairgrounds racetrack in Warrensburgh in 1923, waiting for the horse racing to commence.

Violin out of the closet

John K. Witzemann, the Philadelphia violinist who gave a concert in Glens Falls on Sept. 12, 1912, played on a genuine Amati violin valued at $2,000 which has a romantic history. The instrument was made in Cremona, Italy and is believed to be 208 years old. The violin was secured by Witzemann last year in 1911 while he was spending his summer vacation in Schroon Lake. It was owned by Fred E. Pitkin, a store clerk who had it for about 10 years and who sold it to Witzemann for a moderate figure. An expert in Philadelphia later assessed it at $2,000. The instrument was owned by various people in the vicinity of Schroon Lake for about 25 years and at one time it was sold for $15. In its travels, the violin met with many vicissitudes and considerable repairing was necessary before its original beauty and tone were restored. Amati violins are highly valued and genuine specimens are very rare and valuable.

(Note: Andrea Amati, violin maker extraordinaire and teacher of the greats, plied his trade with his two sons, Antonio and Hieronymus in a shop in Cremona Italy. Hieronymus died in 1630 of the black plague as did several other members of his family and it was his fifth son, Nicolo Amati, born in 1596, who became the world famous violin maker in the family, producing amazing instruments and training several other violin makers well-known in history. When business reached an all time high, Nicolo took on apprentices in his shop. The origins of Antonius Stradivarius were found in the Amati shop and Nicolo is often held to be his teacher. If that Schroon Lake violin were to be sold today, the price would be in the millions. It would be interesting to know if at the age of 308 years it exists today — and can still produce delightful haunting music from another era that has never since been surpassed in power and richness.)

Readers are welcome to contact Adirondack Journal correspondent Jean Hadden at jhadden1@nycap.rr.com or 623-2210.

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