For about a quarter of a century, Volodymyr Ivanovych Solozhuk has been engaged in manufacture of violins – the craft that is disappearing.  The sound of 180 musical instruments can be heard all over the world thanks to the skill of the luthier.

We met with Volodymyr and his pupil, friend and experienced master Volodymyr Antonyuk in a small workshop, where time seemed to have stopped…

Violins were everywhere there: on the tables and walls, in drawings and photographs, billets and strings.

And so we talked, accompanied by the sound of producing of the melodious instrument.

First violin

He made his first instrument as a complete amateur, gaining knowledge from books. Two violins can be considered as his first experience. One was remade out of the small one, disassembled by him to see what is inside.  Then assembled again, re-varnished, that was more likely a major repair. But this practise marked the beginning that he`ll remember forever. Later on he made his first instrument with his own hands and… traded it for wood.  Workers with wood that is intended for producing instruments gave him three ash tree logs (the lower surface of sound boards is made of it) and two spruce logs (for the upper surface of the sound board).

Interest in violin

Perhaps journalists have contributed to it.  Being in somewhere around the 9th or 10th grade, he saw a film about the violin maker who was whittling the upper surface of the sound board with the small plane.

He was impressed with what he has seen so much that he made the plane for himself, out of a chair leg. Here it is, still exists.

This was followed by army service, marriage, studies at the university, work at the factory.  In the early ’90s he started working in the organ hall. It was there, where he thought of his small plane, while fixing some instruments.

That`s when he disassembled that first violin.  And after making the 15th, he went to study in Cremona (Italy), where all of the great violin makers had been living and creating their masterpieces. He studied there for two years.

The secret of the violin

Violin has a long, centuries-old history with many people and much of their knowledge and experience behind it.

The sound most closely resembling human voice is provided by its convex shape and properly manufactured arches (violin viola-cello). In the Italian language you “suonare” (play) any musical instrument, but when talking about violin you “suonare il violino” (sing).

It consists of 54 items with nothing being redundant, where everything works to provide precisely that sound.

For example, if you slightly pull the bow across the string even of an untuned instrument, the amplitude attenuation will provide a higher-pitched sound, which is the first characteristic of a good quality of the instrument.

The most difficult and the most valuable is the proper production of an arch.

It is made by ear, already knowing how it should sound, while being still at the production phase. And the secret of a good-quality violin is in hard work every day.

Text and photo by Vasyl Salyga 

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