Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Hampshire violin maker wins award for his craft

Christoph Gotting holding a violin he made
Image caption Christoph Gotting's instruments are used by violinists around the world

A Hampshire-based violin maker has won a National Masters of Crafts awards for his specialised skill.

Christoph Gotting, 63, of Romsey, spends more than 140 hours on each violin. He and his assistant produce around 10 a year by hand.

He has trained since he was 17 and spent years researching the varnish on classical violins, an art which has been lost over time.

Now his skill has been recognised with the Balvenie Master of Craft award.

Mr Gotting's work harks back to a golden age of violin making, which ended abruptly in the 1780s when Europe was in revolution turmoil.

Top musicians still depend on antique violins from the 17th or 18th centuries for their superior sound, with Stradivarius the most highly regarded.

Delicate elements

Mr Gotting, who was born in Germany, spent 21 years restoring old instruments in a Bavarian workshop and studying the old crafts, including the old varnish and grinding techniques and the surfaces of the wood.

"These disappeared in around 1780. Nothing was written down," he said.

"To understand and to get close to it, you have to understand what went on before Stradivarius' time."

The wood for a violin arrives in sections, which are formed into delicate elements such as the scroll.

Only the best wood, grown at a high altitude, is selected, with maple used for the back and sides and spruce for the table, or upperside.

However, it is the chemical composition of the varnish that is critical to making a beautiful sound.

Persuade professionals

Mr Gotting said his love for music was developed by the "many, many classical concerts" he was taken to as a child.

Two decades ago, he moved to Hampshire, converting an old granary near Romsey to serve as a base for his independent business.

His challenge has been to persuade professionals to use his new models.

About 70 violinists around the world now own his instruments.

The co-leader of the Berlin Philharmonic, one of the greatest orchestras in the world, owns a Gotting violin.

Mr Gotting recalled: "He phoned to say he had just played a concert on my violin."

The Balvenie Masters of Craft awards were launched this year.

They are intended to celebrate the heritage of handcrafted skills around the UK.

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